26. Ravaged Families
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020. This is the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period. The number for 2020 overall will be even worse!
The opioid epidemic is a complex problem affecting not only those who live with opioid dependence, but also their families. An essential aspect of an individual's recovery is having input from stakeholders’ who are willing to be involved. They can include the individual with substance use disorder (SUD), their family and friends, healthcare providers, members of their community, the state, and the nation; however, “there is limited research that explains the lived experience of individuals with SUD with families and friends.”
This is an area with lots of chicken and egg questions. I like to say that since all chickens were once eggs but not all eggs are chickens then it's probably true that the egg came first. But the facts are families with a member(s) living with SUD are likely families who may be struggling. Pride, denial, embarrassment, fear, limited finances, concomitant family conditions like cancer and heart disease, are just some of the things that make the opioid epidemic a complex family problem. Family members displaying codependency can struggle to cope with the unpredictable behavior of those family members who are struggling to live with their SUD. It’s hard to realize the difference between support, enablement, and good intentions. Misunderstandings and arguments sabotage communication. This can lead to confusion, hopelessness, and despair.
Families can be ravaged.
Legal costs, jail, death - almost half the kids in foster care in America are there related to the opioid crisis. Family support for the family member with SUD is important – but support for family members without SUD is important too.
There is much to be done.26.