Impact of drug addiction (heroin)

The Impact of Drug Addiction (Heroin) On Spouse in Their Relationship, Economic


Drug addiction is misuse of a medication or street drug. Lack of control in the usage of a drug despite its harmful effects is the starting point of drug abuse. It continues as a person gets intense cravings for a drug and may resort to crime to get hold of it. Heroin is a good example of a drug that is abused on a large scale in many countries where it is made accessible.

It is classified as a narcotic painkiller produced from morphine (i.e. a natural extract of opium poppies) or synthetically processed. The slang terms used by the dealers and abusers when trading are numerous(e.g.smack,big H,brown sugar,mud,blacktar,horse,dope or skag).Heroin's foremost attraction is its ability to act as an antidepressant that influences the pleasure system of the brain and impedes its ability to recognize pain. Heroin can be exploited in different ways depending on the drug's purity and preference of the consumer. It can be injected (i.e. in a muscle or vein), smoked (i.e. using a standard pipe, water pipe, regular cigarette or marijuana joint), inhaled in the form of smoke using a straw or snorted through the nose in the form of powder. Interim effects of heroin abuse are slurred speech, constricted eye pupils, blighted night visualization, droopy eyelids, slow gait, constipation and vomiting. Chronic effects cause damage to the internal organs of the users leading to complications in the brain, kidneys, liver and lungs (Tschacher et al, 2003). The main health dilemmas faced by users are risky (e.g. heart disease, miscarriages, infectious diseases and even death).According to Brezina (2009), heroin abusers do not have full knowledge of the actual strength and ingredients of the dosage they are conferred. This skyrockets their chances of overdosing and even death.

General Discussion

One of the main causes of heroin abuse is the environment in which a person or a group of people are accustomed. The other is the inherited traits an individual may acquire in their genes that make them tolerant to the use of the drug. The family (i.e. Family X) that has moved into my community will be faced with a number of factors that could make its members become heroin abusers. Unemployment is one aspect that could be a driving force for substance abuse. Unemployment is the circumstance in which an individual is willing, available and able to work but does not have work. When this is rampant as in the case study of this family, drug abuse is likely to occur.

Using the 1979 Bronfenbrenner model, Family X can be defined by its social-ecological approach. Urie Bronfenbrenner is an expert on ecological psychology and he expressed his principles to help explain how the environment affects the behavior of people. He explained that the key to development in a person is the environment a person lives and that person's interactions with others. Moreover, a person experiences more than one type of environment (Bronfenbrenner, 1979).The types of environments exemplified are the microsystem (i.e. immediate environment in which a person operates), the mesosytem (i.e. two interacting micro systems), the exosystem ( external environment that a person is not associated with but unavoidably affects them) and the macrosystem which is the larger cultural environment. Family X is new to the community and initial isolation is obvious because adaptations need to be made. The head of any household has the financial obligation to cater to the needs of the dependants. If unemployment plagues the head of family, it will lead to stress. If this person has no community support to assist with their dilemma, it becomes easier for that person to resort to heroin for relieve. Once tolerance takes root in this person's body, any amount of money that this person can get will be used in the acquisition of heroin from the supplier. This overall situation will obviously put a financial strain on the spouse. This is because the spouse will have to support the children and deal with the retrogressive habits of their partner. On the other hand it could be possible that one of the spouses has a drug problem even before they moved into the neighbourhood.In the long run this will prove costly to the family. According to Strang & Gossop (2005), drug addiction is currently costing the global market about $67 billion yearly. This is due to the expenditure involved in the specialized programs and rehabilitation facilities for addicts. If the addicted spouse of family X gets employment, some the effects of heroin abuse (e.g. infections, confusion and violence) could lead to decreased work output, increased business losses and liabilities. This will reduce the family income and cause an economic deficiency.

Assume the presence of a fresh high school and college graduate in family X.The first challenge in the new environment would be social. At these somewhat tender ages, acceptance by friends is critical. For the high school leaver the social pressure to fit into a group that is involved in heroin abuse would be high. Prior to this, isolation would make the pressure to fit in soar because the individual knows how it feels to be alone and worse still, lonely. For the college leaver, unemployment would be the greatest source of anxiety because this person must start acclimatizing to the society. This involves the payment of expenses (, electricity, insurance where possible and personal upkeep) and making decisions as a mature adult with regard to serious life issues. If this person does not learn how to handle such issues carefully and in the right manner, heroin abuse would be a solution for them to escape from life's challenges.

The parents of family X are highly likely to have a ruined marriage if either or both are heroin addicts. The major component of marriage is intimacy. Drug abuse makes it impossible to have a fulfilling sex life and sustainable emotions due to the messed priorities of the addicted partner(s). The outcome is the feeling of rejection (Ashenberg & Huff, 2006).The ripple effect of this failed marriage is family financial deficiency and broken friendships. With increased abuse the high disability costs incurred due to medical expenses and rehabilitation bring about financial challenges to the entire family unit. Coupled with the social pressure and unemployment faced by the children discussed earlier, destruction is inevitable to family X.

As a health care advocate, I would ensure that family X has acquired the necessary contact information that is necessary for the healing process. Starting with the unemployment issue, I would get the necessary resources for job seeking. The community would prove very vital because that is where employers and connections are found. The college graduate and the high school leaver could get volunteer activities and simple jobs to expose them to available options in the market and positively influence their chosen course in college. The college graduate could get internship from relevant industries available before getting a steady job. A mentor from the community would assist at this level. The availability of motivation material such as LIFE online magazine and activities would be useful to these individuals. The spouse addicted to heroin should get into self help groups similar to AA (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous) and rehabilitation for some time to ensure that the habit is completely broken. Where possible, the local police could get information of the dealers from the addicts and make arrests on these culprits.

A very useful resource in Australia is the national non-government organization, Families Australia which promotes family interests. Their vision is that people need not to recourse to drug abuse for daily living. Their approach involves the implementation of policies that are fair to the local and foreign population. The Australian media has played a big role in ensuring that the execution of the parliamentary policies is done effectively.Furthermore, this organization prepares reports on contemporary family issues from the relevant experts and research groups. Sharing of this information with the community including family X and other stakeholders brings about positive change and growth.


Once the health concern of heroin addiction has been identified, appropriate measures need to be established to make sure the problems come to a halt. A combination of medication and behavioral therapies often enable addicts to reestablish themselves in life. The first step is detoxification to facilitate safe withdrawal. Buprenorphine and Clonidine and are used to reduce withdrawal symptoms. The other medications used to prevent relapse are methadone, naltrexone and naloxone. The behavioral therapy includes counseling, contingency management and cognitive therapy used to increase life skills that enable the former users in coping with stressors. According to Straussner (2006), proper research into the causative factors of drug abuse in parents will enable the children involved to heal. This is because children tend to become abusers when exposed to environments that encourage this habit. Worse still if it is in their homes where their values and notion of life are shaped. For anyone, child or adult, heroin addiction causes destruction. Recovery requires serious effort from all the people involved in the abuser's life and especially the user. Support groups, proper medication and rehabilitation are time tested remedies to the heroin predicament.


  • Ashenberg, S.L.S., Huff, C.F (2006). Impact of substance abuse on children and families: research and practice implications. New York: Routledge.
  • Brezina, C. (2009). Heroin: The Deadly Addiction. New York: Rosen Publishing Group
  • Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979) The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Strang, J., & Gossop, M. (2005). Heroin Addiction and 'The British System': Treatment and Other Responses. New York: Routledge.
  • Straussner, .S.A. & Fewell C.H. (2006) Impact of substance abuse on children and families: research and practice implications. New York: Routledge.
  • Tschacher, W., Haemmig R. & Jacobshagen N. (2003).Time series modeling of heroin and morphine drug action. New York: Springer-Verlag.

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