Works Minister Nali under pressure in roads corruption case
A lit fuse – but uncertain whether it'll be fireworks or a damp squib

Problems of addiction are blighting many of our families

Prescription-abusePHILIP KAI MORRE

KUNDIAWA - Alcoholism and drug addiction are progressive and fatal diseases that undermine the family unit. Addiction is a family problem with every member, not just the addict, suffering from its effects.

In our highlands society, families operate as a system and family members interrelate to each other for a common purpose.

As a system, families seek to maintain a balance in life. They preserve functional boundaries and support each other in work, finance, problem solving and in many other ways.

When there is no food, all family units work to find some. When there is no money to pay school fees, the family rallies to get it. When a family member is sick, the others provide care and comfort.

However, in families where a member is an alcoholic, drug addict or gambler, this balance is lost and there looms a great risk of dysfunction including divorce or separation, child abuse, sexual exploitation, economic manipulation, intimidation, psychological abuse and much more.

Children of alcoholics and drug addicts exist in a dubious moral environment and frequently lack a full understanding of the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, lawful and unlawful.

Juvenile delinquency or youth crime is increasing especially in urban areas.  Psychological and spiritual problem are common among the children of alcoholics, who become confused and lose a sense of who they are.

Life in the alcoholic’s family offers only continuing grief and trauma and problems with no solutions. Children who grow up in such a hostile environment suffer physically and emotionally and tend to accept dysfunction as the norm.

Dysfunctional families are defensive in their actions and denial is a major problem and one that gets in the way of change.

In dysfunctional families, there are usually enablers, especially wives, who try to protect their husband’s problems. Shame and fear motivates them to become enablers who make the problems worse rather than assisting the addict towards treatment and recovery.

Ultimately, this means the whole family not just the addict needs support, counselling, therapy, guidance and education.

Every family has its own rules and norms. In healthy functional families, rules are realistic and support a purposeful life with every member benefiting.

In the dysfunctional family, rules – so far as they exist at all - are unrealistic and inhuman. Promises are broken, dishonesty prevails and life is devoid of reality. To establish stability in the family, they put on ‘masks’ to protect each other. They follow the alcoholics’ rules of denial, silence and isolation.

In PNG services like Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, family support services and addiction counsellors and therapists are not available in most places. However, some churches and NGOs are voluntary providing counselling services and spiritual guidance.

Comments

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Rashmii Bell

A dire situation for PNG.

I recently compiled a chapter around the issue of mental health service delivery in PNG and was extremely saddened to discover the defunct and limited in-patient and community care available.

Shocking is the data in relation to the treatment gap for those seeking professional help -- and this is in the urban areas alone. It is distressing to know the implications this has for the rural population.

Utmost respect for the MH professionals working in PNG, doing as much as they can with the limited resources and professional support for their own self-care.

Health promotion, especially mental health, promotion needs urgent investment by the government.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Feed it to the pigs even.

Happiest pigs in the world.

Paul Oates

Well Phil, that might have something to do with the fact that everywhere you go on the Indian Sub Continent there is a particular weed those grows in profusion.

Philip Fitzpatrick

You might like to investigate the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan.

They've stopped measuring the state of their nation using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and now use Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) as a benchmark.

It was an idea first introduced by their king.

Paul Oates

One of the biggest problems in today's world is drug addiction. This is not anything new but it attracts the attention of the world media as it is a convenient and dramatic subject to pursue.

Primarily, when confronted with a problem, most world politicians inevitably resort to spending money and funding supposedly controls.

The answer is not more legislation but as is discussed in this article, understanding why the problem exists at all?

Attacking the illegal sources and distribution of drugs is also an easy method to demonstrate someone is actually doing something but if this is effective, how come the problem is never actually fixed?

A self evident truth is that without policing, the problem might be worse, however the US attempt at control and outlawing alcohol in the Prohibition Era demonstrates that if people want to partake of something illegal, they will find a way to do so and in the process, fund those criminals who supply what people want irrespective of whether it is illegal.

It's been postulated that some people are naturally more addicted to various substances more than others. While this may be true, the real cause of most of today's use of drugs of addiction is a perceived need for an easy fix to forget about life's painful difficulties.

This is where there is no easy fix. Most political leaders therefore fail to engage in any long term answer is because there is no short term solution that can be boasted about in the media.

Understanding why the problem exists in the first place is the first step along a very long road. Being prepared to listen and discuss a person's problems is a good start to understanding how to defeat an addiction. It doesn't unfortunately create a sensational achievement or a quick fix.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy otherwise everyone would be doing it. The issue must be looked at in an holistic way and understanding the issues is the first step.

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