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Friday, 19 July 2013

Mental Health vs Drug Addiction

I am wondering if the frustration and helplessness that people who love an addict is also felt by people who love someone afflicted with a mental health problem.

If my son was not taking any drugs and indeed never had an addiction but all his behaviours were the same would I still question whether he should remain in the family home or not? Would I still feel that despite all my efforts he does not want help or does not want change so therefore he should be put out? Possibly.

Mental health problems come in all shapes and sizes and degrees just as drug addiction. Just because someone has a mental health problem does not mean they are not lucid or that they are a threat to anyone or themselves. Most people I would imagine think that if my son where only suffering from a mental health disorder he would be able to be hospitalized and then there would not be the same disagreements at home as we are having regarding rehab.This is not the case at all. Unless the mental health problem was severe, he would need to voluntarily seek help and or hospitalization, so my hands would still be tied.

So, take away the drugs and lets say hypothetically, that my son would still be in the same darkness he is in now. Depression. Low self esteem. Abandonment issues/fears. Severe anger. Sleep disorder. Not engaging in services. Isolated. Occasional paranoia. Some obsessive compulsive tendencies. Not able to work or attend school because of these issues, etc.. I imagine life with such a child, who is now legally an adult, would be just as difficult and just as frustrating. So given such a scenario, and say he would not attend doctor appointments or take his meds, which is what happened with the drug clinic, I assume I would feel the same helplessness about not being help him. However, I would have the same worry that his behaviour was having an increasingly negative affect on the rest of the family. So would I still be thinking of telling my son to leave?

Mental health problems still holds a stigma in our society, especially with such a vast amount of conditions falling into that category. Society hears the term mental health and equates it with the stereotypical schizophrenic or psychopath character. However, I think that the term drug addict holds an even greater stigma within our society due to the lack of understanding around addiction. Addiction is a disease just like any other, no one plans to be an addict; however, people believe addicts "choose" that life whereas mental health patients had no part in their affliction. Therefore maybe society and parents feel more empathetic towards someone struggling with mental health issues rather than drug or alcohol issues and find it easier to break the ties when drugs are involved. I am wondering though if maybe for parents or partners of someone with mild to moderate mental health issues that is not always the case. Maybe they too get to the point where they can do no more and the person suffering needs to accept the help being offered.....I wonder, because believing that my son's issues are more than "just" drugs is what keeps the hesitation in me about putting him out. Then I also wonder if I am simply rationalising my inability to take that step.....