The problem from the patient's perspective

Addiction is a complex disease, manifested by the compulsive use of a given substance, despite the knowledge of its deleterious consequences. It establishes an intense focus on the use of a certain substance to the point of the situation taking over the patient’s life. The affected person continues to use the substance, even though he intends to stop and even though he is aware of the problems it could cause. The patient with addiction may suffer changes in his thinking and behaviour, with episodes of intense craving, which can be very difficult to control.

There may be several reasons for consumption:

  • To feel good: feeling of pleasure;
  • To feel better: stress relief;
  • To do better: improve performance;
  • Curiosity and peer pressure.

Over time, the patient develops tolerance, which translates into the need for increasing the amount of substance use to feel the same effect. In the most severe forms, virtually all of the person's daily activities revolve around the substance, whether it is to obtain it, consume it or recover from it.

The consequences of consumption can be dramatic in the different spheres of a person's life - work, social, family. However, treatments are available to help recover and return to a normal and productive life.


The problem from the family's perspective

Addiction can cause problems in the different spheres of a person's life - health, work, social life with family and friends, etc. These consequences can be explained by the symptoms associated with substance abuse:

  • Difficulty in self-control: urgent need to use or consume the substance; desire to reduce and control the abuse and its unsuccessful attempts to do it;
  • Social problems: failure to complete tasks at work, at school or home; a decrease in social or leisure activities;
  • Effects of the substance itself: tolerance (need for higher doses to obtain the same effect); withdrawal symptoms (different for each substance).

There are different ways in which the patients’ families can be affected: concern and psychological stress with consequent damage to their own physical and mental health; problems related to domestic violence; exposure to debt-related threats and violence; financial burden of direct and indirect support for family members with substance abuse; impact on work caused by stress and caregiver responsibility; loss of social life and isolation.

Family members can make a significant contribution to the person with substance abuse, encouraging them to start a treatment process.