PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE

MAx Fabry is a regular contributor to a weekly column “ASK MAx” published in the SPRINGFIELD TIMES, Springfield, Oregon. The SPRINGFIELD TIMES is published weekly on Friday by S.J. Olson Publishing, Inc. This column is published on this blog by permission of the SPRINGFIELD TIMES. Visit their website at http://www.springfieldtimes.net.
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Dear MAx,
My husband says that he has been in recovery from prescription drugs for almost two years. It is still really difficult for me to trust that he isn’t using, or planning on using. Whenever we go to visit family or friends I worry about whether he is going through their medicine cabinets. When he goes to see the doctor I worry that he is trying to get drugs. When he is on the computer I worry about him ordering drugs from online. Because of his addiction we almost lost everything that we have worked for, and I have seen little remorse from him that he is even aware how he has endangered the welfare of our family. I am getting exhausted watching and wondering about if he is using again. How can I be sure he isn’t using?

Phyllis

Dear Phyllis,
Thank you for bringing the growing problem of prescription drug abuse to the attention of my readers. As you have experienced, this addiction is insidious, negatively impacting the welfare of the family. Prescription drugs, particularly pain medications, have become the second most prevalent illegal drug problem. This unfortunate epidemic spreads across generations from teens to aging baby boomers.

Once an addict stops using and enters ‘recovery’, the family lets out a sigh of relief and immediately wants things to go back to ‘normal’. It is important for family members to be able to balance between denial and awareness. The denial is when loved ones want to pretend that the drug abuse never happened and “just put it behind us”. Drug abuse is a vicious cycle that can cause changes in the brain with the possibility of the addict developing stronger impulses to use. Family members need to educate themselves on the signs, symptoms, and effects of abusing prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse website offers this information. You know your husband as well as anyone so you can probably detect differences in his behavior and moods when you know what to look for.

Recovery for drug addiction is an ongoing process involving behavioral and, sometimes, pharmacological treatment. While there are medications available to help addicts overcome withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, people learn to function without abusing substances with behavioral treatments. Please keep in mind that many addicts in recovery may experience depressed moods for as long as a year or more.

It is important that you are taking care of yourself during your husband’s recovery. Focusing your attention and energy on whether or not your husband is using again, may distract you from what is important in your life. Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship. Educating yourself with the information provided above, attending support groups to hear how other loved ones are dealing with the problem, and seeking both individual and couples counseling may help you better understand the problem of prescription addiction.

How can you be sure he isn’t using, Phyllis? Short of having him take a drug test whenever you suspect he is using, you may never be sure. Working on building a foundation of mutual trust and honesty may work better to return your family to your normal.

Have a question about addiction, recovery, or life transitions such as retirement, career change, grief and loss issues, empty nester, etc, ‘ASK MAx’. Send your questions to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440; or, e-mail your questions to maxfabry@lifestylechangescounseling.com. Learn more about MAx Fabry at http://www.lifestylechangescounseling

MAx Fabry is also founder and member in good standing with ONLINE WELLNESS ASSOCIATION

EMOTIONAL ABUSE

MAx Fabry is a regular contributor to a weekly column “ASK MAx” published in the SPRINGFIELD TIMES, Springfield, Oregon. The SPRINGFIELD TIMES is published weekly on Friday by S.J. Olson Publishing, Inc. This column is published on this blog by permission of the SPRINGFIELD TIMES. Visit their website at http://www.springfieldtimes.net.
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Dear MAx,
The other day my 14-year-old son came to me and said, “I hate that you let dad abuse you.” I was shocked hearing the word “abuse” coming from my son in regards to his father. My husband has never hit either my son or me. My son said that he was talking about how his father screamed, shouted, harassed, and humiliated people, particularly us, to get his way. My husband is a good provider, loves us, and, yes, does get emotional at times saying things that I am sure he regrets later. I believe this behavior is just a carry over from his own childhood. How can I convince my son I am not abused?

Paula

Dear Paula,
What if your son is right? What if you are being abused? EMOTIONALLY ABUSED, that is. Many people think that if there are no marks or bruises from physical lashing out, then there is no abuse. WRONG!

What we know about physical abuse connected with domestic violence is: that a woman is battered in the U.S. approximately every nine seconds; domestic violence cases contribute to more injured women then muggings and car accidents combined; even though domestic violence is the most underreported crime, it occurs in 60% of marriages.

Emotional abuse, on the other hand, is difficult to track. Emotional abuse is very underreported because of the myth that if there are not bruises and/or marks, there is no abuse. Experts have yet come to a clear definition of what constitutes emotional abuse. What experts do agree on is that, like physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse is based on power and control. Forms of emotional abuse manifest through rejection, isolating, overly jealous and possessive, terrorizing, degrading, emotional deprivation, corrupting and/or exploiting.

Consider these factors as possible indicators of emotional abuse:
-depression -trust issues -health issues with no basis
-withdrawal -stealing -feelings of shame and guild
-low self-esteem -spontaneous crying -overly passive
-sleep problems -substance abuse -avoid eye contact
-suicidal thoughts -aggression -self-depreciation

If you are ready to consider that you are being emotionally abused, know that no one ever deserves to be abused in any manner. It is not your fault that this is happening to you and your children; you are not causing the abuse. You are not alone; others are starting to openly talk about this serious issue. Help is available.

Paula, you mentioned that your husband’s “behavior is just a carry over from his own childhood.” These are issues that he needs to address in individual counseling. But, more importantly, your 14-year-old son is being influenced to repeat the same behavior. Sadly, 90% of battered women reported that their children were present during the domestic violence; so, not surprisingly, 25%-30% of adolescent relationships are also abusive relationships, then grow up to abuse their spouses and children. As an adolescent, your son is learning to be a couple by watching how you and your husband interact. Just as your husband learned from his parents, your son is learning his parents. The fact that your son brought your “abuse” to light is his way of reaching out for things to change in the family. What a great kid you have!

Changing the family doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the family up. There are so many good therapists available to help with individual—adult and adolescent–and family therapy. Therapists work with their clients to identify what the problems are, identify factors that contribute to those problems, then work on giving clients tools, strategies, to be able to reach a positive outcome.

Dear readers, if you suspect, or know, someone is being emotionally and/or physically abused take time to listen, to validate what is happening, offer support: “What can I do to help?” Know services available to support the person, such as child welfare or family services contact information; transition house or shelters; health professionals including therapists. And, remember, it is a moral obligation for every person to report suspected or know child abuse or neglect to a child welfare agency or to the police.
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Have a question about addiction, recovery, or life transitions such as retirement, career change, grief and loss issues, empty nesting, etc, ‘Ask MAx’. Send your questions to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440; or, e-mail your questions to maxfabry@lifestylechangescounseling.com. Learn more about MAx Fabry at www.lifestylechangescounseling.com.

MAx Fabry is founder and member in good standing with ONLINE WELLNESS ASSOCIATION.