At every hand, it seems that our children are surrounded with insidious influences that seem to encourage or condone substance abuse. Movies, television, the actions of older children, sports figures, movies stars and musicians – everywhere, there seems to be people who can use drugs and still be successful.
The major factors influencing South Asian families’ reactions to drug use are the importance of maintaining the respect of the family within their community and their lack of awareness of drug services.
A major barrier to drug information, advice and treatment services is a lack of awareness of the range of services that exist and the help they can offer. This impedes access to information and advice for all members of the South Asian communities. The result is that families often employ strategies that focus not on seeking professional help for the drug user, but on hiding and denying the situation from the extended family and the rest of their community. Families’ efforts to tackle the drug use of a member without seeking external help are largely unsuccessful. When external help is sought for a drug user by their family, mainstream drug services are rarely considered.
Families suffer due to cultural and social factors of drug behavior, including their own understanding of the disease process and the addict’s behavior due to drug abuse, draining of family resources, shrinking from responsibilities, sickness and death faced as a consequence of drug abuse, extramarital relations, distortion of interpersonal family relationships, and violence.
Family reaction to drug addiction includes denial, blaming, suppressed anger, depression, bargaining, preoccupation, change of personality, and codependency. Family and friends express negative and non supportive attitudes such as hopelessness and being ashamed of the addict’s act or indifference and desertion by the spouse and in general resistance.
In order to raise awareness within South Asian communities on drug-related issues the taboo on discussion on these must be overcome, and this requires sensitivity, persistence, time, and meaningful engagement within the communities in order to discuss, devise and deliver the most effective approaches.
SAWAC has the means to counter these influences so that we can keep South Asian Communities from falling into substance abuse and addiction by: