On Dec. 3, musician Scott Weiland was found dead in his tour bus due to cardiac arrest. Upon investigation, police found trace amounts of cocaine at the scene in addition to a collection of prescription drugs such as Xanax, Buprenorphine and Ziprasidone. In the following days, critics and peers reflected on Weiland’s life and his tumultuous history with substance abuse. One striking statement was written by the singer’s ex-wife, Mary Forsberg Weiland.
In her words, “The outpouring of condolences and prayers offered to our children, Noah and Lucy, has been overwhelming, appreciated and even comforting. But the truth is, like so many other kids, they lost their father years ago. What they truly lost on December 3rd was hope.”
The children of addiction
According to the national nonprofit CASAColumbia, substance-using parents are quite common. In a 2005 study, the research organization found that in U.S. households with children under age 18:
13 percent had a parent or other adult who used illicit drugs
24 percent had a parent or other adult who was a binge or heavy drinker
37 percent had a parent or other adult who smoked or chewed tobacco
Overall, the results illustrated that approximately 35 million children, which is half the nation’s youth, had an adult in their lives who abused some sort of substance. As a result, these children have a heightened risk of developing substance abuse disorders and mental illness as well as experiencing other problems such as accidents, injuries and academic failure. Furthermore, drug or alcohol-abusing parents were found three times more likely to abuse their children and four times more likely to neglect them than sober parents.
How the effects of addiction spread
In an effort to improve treatment protocols, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration compiled past findings that further detail how the consequences of addiction invade the entire family system:
Many addicted individuals can no longer care for themselves. Once they abandon important responsibilities and spend their money primarily on drugs, their partner may assume the provider role, leading to an unhealthy codependency
Many children of an addicted adult do not behave age-appropriately due to their parent’s inability to fulfill a caregiving role. For instance, youth may offer support and care for the abusing parent in place of a spouse. In the process, children may also develop denial to protect themselves against the reality of their parent’s problem
Extended family may feel forgotten, fearful, frustrated, embarrassed or guilty toward an addicted relative. They may even cut ties with the person if he or she has become significantly unreliable or untrustworthy. Unfortunately, this decrease of needed support only weakens an abuser’s chances at recovery
“Addiction is a chronic, pervasive and equal-opportunistic disease that affects all types of people and even their loved ones. Relatives may often prompt a person to get treatment, but many of these family members do not receive appropriate care themselves. In order to address this systemic problem as a whole, we at Sovereign Health continue to integrate and emphasize family-based programming into all of our treatments,” said Ash Bhatt, M.D., Sovereign Health’s chief medical officer.
Having familial support is one of the most necessary steps towards attaining and maintaining sobriety. If you or someone you love is struggling from a form of addiction, protect everyone’s well-being and contact Sovereign Health to learn more about our effective and intensive family program.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer