Addiction can have a devastating impact on the family unit. Whether it is alcohol or heroin addiction, it is not just the individual who is negatively affected. Sometimes, people with addictions do not realise how deeply their actions can affect the other members of the family, but even if they do, they may still not be able to stop themselves from abusing alcohol or drugs.
When one member of the family is diagnosed with an addiction such as heroin addiction, every other member will be affected. Each family member will react differently to the news that a loved one is affected; some will want to do everything they can to help while others will become confused and can retreat in distress.
It could be that other family members experience feelings of anger or resentment towards the addicted individual while others will be in denial. As the person’s drug abuse begins to take over, the family dynamics will start to change, with some family members adapting to the illness.
It is often the case that, in the beginning, family members will try to beg or plead with the addict, and some will try to manipulate him or her into quitting the drugs. This is very common, but unfortunately, it rarely works.
As the addict starts to lose more and more control over his/her life, the implications for the rest of the family are often devastating; particularly when children are involved.
Many people will have seen twins Kyle and Joshua Brooks appearing on the X-Factor recently (September 2016). These fresh-faced seventeen-year-olds from Wales impressed judges Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger, and Louis Walsh when they performed a version of hit song Runnin’ by Naughty Boy and Beyoncé.
However, the pair were hiding their traumatic past from the judges. The twins subsequently revealed that their grandmother raised them as their parents, Samantha and Daniel Gibbs, could not take care of them due to a crippling heroin addiction.
Kyle and Joshua were just eighteen-months-old when their grandmother Colette took them in. A source told The Sun newspaper, “Josh and Kyle’s parents were ravaged by addiction and incapable of looking after the children. Colette stepped in and has been caring for them ever since. Sam is proud of all three boys, but she is still too sick to be responsible for them.”
Their brother Liam, who is eleven, is also being cared for by Colette.
It has been reported that Joshua and Kyle were causing trouble in the town where they live, with one source saying, “To say they are unpopular with some locals in their area is an understatement. They used to congregate with a large group of boys in the evenings and over weekends and cause residents a headache. The group was regularly involved in street fights, which upset the local community.”
However, Colette hit back at claims that her grandsons were troublemakers, and said, “The boys are not trouble and not tearaways. They are good boys and I’m very proud of them. I don’t know why people are saying those things. They have always been extremely good boys.”
Heroin addiction, or indeed any addiction, can have a devastating impact on children within the family, particularly if those affected are the parents. In the above case, Joshua and Kyle Brooks were raised by their grandmother because their parents were too ill to look after them.
Some children are left within the home with the addicted parent for a long time, which can have long-lasting implications. Children of addicted parents often have to deal with the shame and embarrassment of their parent’s behaviour, and younger children will experience mixed emotions; particularly if they do not understand why their parent is acting in the way he or she is. Kids can feel confused, upset, frightened, anxious and ashamed. They may then feel guilty for feeling ashamed.
People who are living with a heroin addiction, for example, might experience mood swings, and these can be very difficult for children to cope with. The environment in which they are living can be very unpredictable and chaotic, and children are often unsure about what to expect.
In many cases, the atmosphere at home can become akin to a war zone, with one parent squaring off against the other. Unfortunately, children are often caught in the crossfire.
Kids of addicted parents often suffer well into adulthood, and many will go on to develop addictions themselves, which may be a surprise to many people. Nevertheless, to these children, drugs and alcohol are familiar, and they have learned that these substances can be a way to cope with the stresses of life.
Unless children of addicts are removed from the family home or receive treatment for their traumatic experiences, they have a high likelihood of experiencing addiction themselves in later life.
X Factor contestants’ shocking secret: Twins Kyle and Joshua Brooks reveal parents’ heroin addiction forced their grandmother to raise them (Daily Mail)
X Factor hopefuls Kyle and Joshua Brooks raised by their grandmother as their parents battled heroin addiction (Mirror.co.uk)
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