There can be no denying the fact that opioid addiction is starting to ravage marriages and families in America and around the world. Are you one of those people who is affected by this epidemic? Has your marriage been destroyed because your spouse became addicted to prescription drugs such as the painkiller Oxycontin, for example.
According to a recent article on NBC’s website, Opioid addiction epidemic in America has a negative effect on American families and communities – and not just the poor and ethnic communities who have “stereotypically” been associated with this problem. Indeed, earlier in the year the president attended a panel discussion in Atlanta Georgie to talk about how the federal government can help. He said that globally, the demand for drugs have to be reduced. And he sees he problem as more of a health problem rather than a criminal one. According to an NBC report, drugs like Oxycontin are particularly problematic and is in widespread use in certain communities and with dire consequences as the use of this drug tends to lead to other harsher and harder drugs that completely devastate the users and their families and often in fact leads to death. Interestingly, middle class and white families seem particularly vulnerable according to the article which reads in part:
Obama and Congress have made a priority of the startling rise in use of opioids, particularly prescription painkillers like Oxycontin, which often lead to use of harder, illegal versions, such as heroin. Opioid-related deaths rose beyond 28,000 in 2014, more than any year on record, the culmination of a trend that dates back to 1999. Opioid-related deaths have quadrupled since then.
The new focus is related to the epidemic’s spread to middle-class, white communities, challenging stereotypical notions that addiction was primarily a scourge of the poor and minorities. The increase in painkiller use has led to crackdowns against doctors who over-prescribe them and a rethinking of the medical industry’s approach to pain management. But many experts caution against disavowing painkiller, arguing that they have improved the lives of countless chronically ill or injured people, allowing them to work and improve the quality of the lives.
What can an individual do if their spouse has an opioid addiction? Well, the first thing is to understand that this is not necessarily a “criminal” matter. It is a health issue according to people like the president and should be treated like any other health issue. The addicted person needs to get help and if they are unable to obtain help themselves, then if possible their spouse and family needs to help them obtain that help.
But does it mean a spouse would have to remain married to an opioid addict whose behaviour may be putting other family members at risk? Of course not. No reasonable person could ask or force someone to remain married to an opioid addict. It really is a question of the “how” to do it and not the “if” it should be done sometimes. Notwithstanding the fact that a spouse may be on a path of self-destruction due to their helpless addiction, it does not mean that the only way to help that person is to stay married. It is essential that each individual takes care of themselves first and foremost. But it is also essential that spouses try to get each other the help that is needed.
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