The Effect of Substance Abuse on Family and the Criminal Justice System
By: Sharon Bartley
Instructor: Joan Stadora
September 5, 2012
Substance abuse has been a long standing problem in the United States. There are thousands estimated to be abusers of one substance or another for example; alcohol, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and in recent years methamphetamine. Beginning with the presidency of Richard Nixon the United States has declared a war on drugs unfortunately, we are losing. The drug problem has continued to grow for over 40 years. Many of the individuals abusing drugs have underlying issues such as; depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia to name a few. Families have a challenging dilemma because these are their loved ones who are abusing drugs and committing crimes bringing hardships to the family. These individuals are most times arrested and sentenced to lengthy sentences where the rehabilitation is minimal at best. For this paper I will be discussing how substance abuse affects the family unit and how it also affects the prison system as a whole; and what can be done to assist families with dealing with a substance abuser as well as what strategies can be put in place to assist prison employees to better handle the substance abuser who may also; have a mental illness.
Substance abusers are individuals who are compelled to misuse drugs whether it is alcohol, street drugs or prescribed narcotics. This need can be stronger than the need to eat, drink water and in some cases as strong as the need to breathe. The basic text of Narcotics Anonymous (1986) states, “Very simply, an addict is a man or woman whose life is controlled by drugs”. The addict is the person, “whose whole life and thinking are centered on finding ways and means to get more of their drug of choice”. (1986) Individuals under the influence will do whatever they must to consume more drugs for example, steal from loved ones and strangers and sell their bodies. According to, Scott and Dedel (2006) “Street prostitution and street drug markets are often linked”. Scott and Dedel further states, “Street prostitutes are often in some state of personal decline for example running away from abusive situations, becoming drug-dependent and/or deteriorating psychologically. . Substance abusers do not focus on the consequences of their action or how their use affects their families especially their children. Parke and Stewart(2001) “Children whose mothers’ abuse alcohol or other drugs are at increased risk for physical, academic, and social-emotional problems” Family
Family will make excuses for substance abusers because they most times do not want to face the fact that their child, the child they brought up in a loving home with morals and values has become addicted to drugs. Once the family comes to terms with the fact that their child is an addict they can begin to do something about the problem.
Parents may need to apply tough love; refusing to give them money. Quinones and Brozyna (2010) stated in an ABC interview with Barbara Sawyer that “the financial tough love approach is one of the best ways parents can reach out to a child in trouble” yet many parents are afraid to cut off their troubled child. Quninones and Brozyna (2010) further states, “Parents often think they're helping their child by supporting them but; that safety net may actually be hurting their addicted son or daughter”. . Parents must realize that they are the addict’s biggest enablers. Parents will often say that they are not enabling however when the addicted child comes to their home tired, hungry and asking for money if that money is given and, you know what they are going to do with it then you are enabling the user to continue the pattern of abuse. Ford, (2012) says, “The best thing one can do for their self or any addict they care about...
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