Family Dynamics and Xanax Addiction

Family Dynamics and Xanax AddictionAddiction does not happen in a vacuum; addiction occurs in almost all cases within the context of a family environment. Family dynamics critically influence the personal development of every individual, for better or worse. Family dynamics can give a child the strength and resilience to face the challenges of life, but they can also present their own challenges as well. Children who grow up in families that do not provide the foundation for healthy coping skills are at an increased risk of suffering from a multitude of negative effects including substance abuse and addiction.

This is not to say, however, that anyone who becomes addicted necessarily came from a dysfunctional family or suffered from any type of abuse or neglect. Nonetheless, addiction often is rooted in underlying issues that have been impacted by family dynamics.

Children of Addicted Parents

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that 25% of American children grow up in households in which one or both parents abuse drugs and that these children are much more likely to develop anxiety or depression and to use drugs early on in an effort to cope. The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 8.3% American children lived with at least one parent who abuses drugs or alcohol. Children who grow up in households in which one or both parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol typically do not receive the nurturing environment that they need to become healthy, well-adjusted adults. As a result children of addicts (COA) are at greatly increased risk of becoming addicted to drugs themselves as well as of suffering from a large number of other emotional, psychological and behavioral issues.

Children Growing Up with Other Forms of Abuse or Neglect

Suffering from abuse or neglect within the family can traumatize children so that as adults they turn to drugs to ease their pain. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has published the results of a study of patients in treatment for addiction which found that 84% reported instances of abuse or neglect in childhood. It must be noted however that the criteria for abuse and neglect were very broad and ranged from the relatively benign to the truly horrific.

Suffering from abuse or neglect as a child can cause a great deal of anxiety and emotional pain. In addition to causing anxiety, unhealthy family environments can fail to give children the coping skills to deal with the anxiety so that they will naturally be drawn toward anything that will help them cope. Sedatives like Xanax are a natural drug of choice for people who are coping with unresolved emotional pain since sedatives produce feelings of relaxation and calm.

Other Ways That Family Dynamics Can Contribute to Xanax Addiction

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that “a predictable, consistent environment, coupled with positive caregiver relationships, is critical for normal emotional development of children.” Even in relatively healthy families in which drug abuse, addiction, abuse and neglect are not present, family dynamics and issues within the family can contribute to Xanax abuse and addiction in a multitude of ways. For example, any amount of stress experienced by the family as a unit can seriously impact individual members. This could happen if, for instance, an older child is called upon to shoulder responsibility for younger siblings due to a parent’s work schedule. Sibling rivalries can leave one child feeling neglected and feeling like another sibling is the favorite or always gets the attention from the parents. A child witnessing the divorce of his or her parents can experience a great deal of stress that may escape attention at the time and may only manifest itself later in issues such as anxiety, stress and addiction.

Attitudes of parents regarding use of substances, even legal ones like Xanax, can have a tremendous influence on children. Use of Xanax for any number of minor complaints has reached alarming proportions. According to Dr. Frederick Neuman, MD, benzos like Xanax are currently being prescribed, often needlessly for “any sort of discomfort” and “any level of anxiety.” Children learn by example, and parents who set an example of coping with anxiety by using sedatives like Xanax are likely to have children who grow up to do the same.

There are many ways in which family dynamics, even in the healthiest of families, can play a role in the development of addiction in one family member. As stated by Tian Dayton, MA, Ph.D., TED, “each tiny interaction” between parent and child has a profound impact on the overall development of that child.

How Family Dynamics Can Assist or Impede Recovery

Family dynamics and attitudes can have a tremendous impact on attempts at recovery. For example, a family that maintains outdated ideas of addiction as a moral failing or a sign of weakness are likely to blame the addicted family member for using drugs, becoming addicted and causing trouble for everyone else. The family is likely to be hostile and to alienate the addicted member thereby cutting off communication and preventing any opportunities to help. They may be indifferent or even hostile to the idea of treatment insisting that the addicted family member simply stop using drugs. This attitude is likely to affect the addicted person as well, who will then experience a great deal of self-incrimination, causing him or her to avoid treatment and instead sink further into isolation and drug use.

However, a family that recognizes the true nature of addiction as a disease of the mind that requires professional treatment just as with any other disease is much more likely to be a source of support for the addict in his or her recovery efforts. They will understand that addiction can happen to anyone and will not blame or demonize their addicted loved one. They will demonstrate unconditional love without enabling the addiction. They will encourage their loved one to seek treatment and may even stage an intervention. They will become active participants in the recovery process, helping their loved one to find treatment and attending support groups with him or her if they are invited. They will provide a dependable source of support for their loved one during recovery and will always be emotionally available allowing their loved one to express anything that is of concern to him or her.

Family Counseling and Treatment for Xanax Addiction

Xanax addiction is a dangerous disease that can lead to disastrous consequences and must be treated professionally. Xanax withdrawal is potentially life-threatening and must be medically supervised. Following detox individual counseling can help the recovering Xanax addict identify and address all the issues related to the addiction and learn ways of coping without resorting to drug use.

In addition to individual counseling for the recovering addict, family counseling can be an invaluable resource for addressing family dynamics that may have contributed to the addiction and for helping families to learn healthier ways of relating to each other. Again this is not just for families that are considered dysfunctional; no family is perfect, and any family can benefit from professional help with communication skills. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy states that marriage and family therapists can offer great help to families struggling with addiction. The addicted family member, other family members and the family as a whole can receive tremendous benefits from family counseling.

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