Monday, April 5, 2010

Introduction on substance abuse and it's affect on families.

As many of us discovered in class today through our genealogy projects, substance abuse is not uncommon to have in your family. It used to be a very taboo subject, but now, with the growing popularity of rehabilitation programs and the subject of alcohol and drug abuse all over the media, it has become a more common thing to talk about. TV shows such as Sober House with Dr. Drew and Intervention are showing the world that substance dependence can be dangerous to your own personal health and wellbeing as well as damaging to your whole family system.
If you think back to the 1920’s when alcohol was illegal, and if you wanted to drink at all you had to hide it, have it smuggled into the country, or make it yourself, you can see how much our culture has changed. Now it is the cool thing to do and a normal part of American culture. Being drunk in public is no longer something that is out of the ordinary. Our whole culture tells us through media and cultural norms that it is normal to want to drink and if you don’t drink you are missing out.
But the issue is that people rely on the fun and good feeling that alcohol, and also drugs, give you. And they self medicate with these lethal substances to get through the problems that life throws at them. Good fun turns into a habit and that turns into a serious substance abuse problem. This problem is affecting not only Americans but the whole world. Popular culture such as advertising, rock bands, and many TV shows, for example, are not doing anything to change that.
Even though addicts and alcoholics are hurting themselves and their lives greatly, they are also affecting their family’s lives. When someone with a substance abuse problem is in a family system, this can change everything
Some questions to think about when thinking about substance abuse and the affect it has on families:

  • Does the abuser know that her/she is affecting everyone?

  • How does substance abuse affect everyone else around the abuser?

  • What are some family systems that could be affected by substance abuse?

  • What kind of affect do you think the media has on this issue?

Posted by Casandra Colby


  1. I don't think that the substance abuser fully understands that their actions are effecting others. It can be an extremely selfish disease in that way which I find makes it harder for the people around the addict to give support. I found throughout my family when dealing with substance abuse at first there is a feeling of loss. Like that person is no longer a part of the family because they pull back from interactions. Then there was an enormous amount of rage towards the addict for "putting us" through all these struggles and having to take care of them while they could so clearly not reciprocate or even show love for us at that time. In the end, while it is hard, all we can do is show as much support as we can and make suggestions of steps to take towards recovery.

  2. I think that the media has a significant effect on the prevalence of substance abuse in the US. TV Shows, advertisements, and movies tend to pair alcohol with any type of social behavior. Men watching sports games drink beer, women drink wine on the porch, teens party, etc. Although alcohol can be a positive part of our culture, and many people are able to drink alcohol responsibly, it should not necessarily be shown as such an expected social behavior, particularly for younger people, because many people who become dependent on substances start early. I'm not saying that the media should not show alcohol, but it is an influence on the acceptance our culture has for its use, without education about its moderation.

  3. Im not sure that the substance abuser is aware of the way their actions affect the rest of their family. Drugs and Alcohol tend to skew a persons way of thinking. It affects the family greatly because they all want to help this one person who is overtaken by a very addictive disease. The reason I find it important to mention how addictive it is, is because it comes off as being selfish and this causes a schism between family members when they are trying to help.

    The media has an amazing effect on people (especially teens) when it comes to alcohol and drug abuse. Teens look at celebrities as idols with fast paced lives. When Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and more are out running around partying (and in rehab before their 21st birthday), it sends quite a message to girls who aspire to be like them.

    - Carolyn Kaufman

  4. I believe that people are not always aware of the affect that thier drug or alcohol problems may have on thier families. Or they may be aware of its affect but not know how to stop because they are so addicted. I believe that the media can both have a positve affect on this problem and a negative, it can do some commercials or documentries on people negativly affected by these types of problems. Yet the media can show celeberties that young girls may look at you partying a lot and make young teens believe that is the norm.

    -Laura Hickey