My close circle can detail me accurately in a specific aspect, I am an enthusiast of Television Series. Running at the moment is The Resident, my top pick, a medical drama which beams its lens on the leaps and giant strides that has been achieved in the health industry and how technological innovations is playing...


My close circle can detail me accurately in a specific aspect, I am an enthusiast of Television Series. Running at the moment is The Resident, my top pick, a medical drama which beams its lens on the leaps and giant strides that has been achieved in the health industry and how technological innovations is playing significant roles.

From the penultimate episode, Nic, one of the lead characters has a sister, Jessie who is going through phases of substance abuse, supposedly clean but fell into a relapse. Nic, who is a nurse have experienced a ton in the process of getting her cleaned after she’d od’ed several times, yet her endeavors to get her reintegrated into the society keeps failing. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when she gave her transport fare to attend a job interview but later discovered she failed to show up, using the token to get some pills to pop instead.  She tried shipping her to rehab, but Jessie wouldn’t budge, she stood her ground. Nic got infuriated and threw her out of the apartment. Tough love!

Despite the fact that settings (the Nigerian environment) may contrast, substance abuse menace has got no boundaries. Not only does substance abuse take a colossal toll on the group of sufferers; while they think they are not harming anyone (but themselves anyway), their close families becomes the immediate ‘beneficiary’ of their wrong choices and decisions.

Nigeria is a nation battling with economic challenges, youth anxiety, joblessness to name a few. The idle minds are gradually becoming the devil’s workshops as impressionable young minds are taking to substance abuse as a form of escapism. Hitherto affordable drugs like cough syrups, pain killers like Tramadol to name just a few, are now been abused and the manufacturers are left with no choice but to hike the prices. Tramadol can no longer be purchased over the counter without a valid doctor’s prescription.

The ripple effects of substance abuse, an untamed demon is tearing families apart, derailing homes as they struggle to meander through its resultant consequences. Substance abuse has a high probability of having a boomerang effect on the family members. Picture someone stuck in a quick sand, and you’re making conscious and concerted efforts to pull them out, should you put a foot in the morass with them, you would get stuck within a matter of time.

Some people have said cohabiting with substance abusers in a developing country like Nigeria, has brought shame and reproach to their family members. In a society that is just coming to grasp with this malaise, adequate sensitization on how help which can be provided to substance abusers remains in short supply. Family members of substance abusers are always at the receiving end of snide remarks from the society, lumping them together with the abusers. This could dampen their spirit, holding them back from giving the required support to substance abusers.

When victims of substance abuse in the family are being provided support, it could lead to a decrease in productivity, this can also stretch the family thin financially.  Other members of the family starts feeling neglected, if this is not handled with some finesse, the thoughts of getting the short end of the stick when it comes to being catered for gradually gets shoveled into their head, driving a wedge between a once close-knit family, followed by animosity and rancor.

We can’t refute the claim that family members of substance abusers are bound to go through psychological trauma, sometimes feeling a bout of guilt that sufferers are neck deep in substance abuse due to their fault or they start feeling a sense of failure on their own part. This could lead to tremor and a tinge of sadness.

Substance abuse not only affects the users, this is a society scourge that leaves family destroyed, people dead in its wake. Substance abuse crises is plaguing so many families and communities. No one wins.

Too many families suffer in silence, thinking they are the only ones suffering. Substance abuse is a challenge that if not well curtailed, will continue to ruin lives and shatter families. Substance abuse is a health issue, not a crime issue, and families and societies at large are hurting. We need a holistic approach, to strengthen families, we need to prevent systemic substance abuse and support those seeking treatment.

Families should quit hiding what mental health issues and substance abuse does to their loved ones; the havoc it wreaks behind closed doors. If not well managed, it will rip families apart, break hearts, and crush us all.

Families should deter from insensitive treatment that doesn’t conform to high moral standard inflicted on those suffering from substance abuse, they must not be forced to live through unrelenting torture, or unrelieved severe chronic pain that continues to drive sufferers to end their lives and destroying the families.

It is imperative that parents and guardians should talk to their children and siblings about the issues that walks hand in hand with substance abuse. Communication is vital, this must be carried out calmly, void of reproach or judgmental advice. Sentiments will not translate into a desired outcome, rational argument, laced with logic will do the magic. The chances of opening up to parents and guardians at the incipient stage of substance abuse is very high when being talked to with ease, this will apply to their innermost being.

Sharp-witted, genuine and perceptive counselling and guidance are what young adults needs to shield them from substance abuse. Permit me to rephrase the KYC acronym, Know Your Children. Who are their friends? Like Jessie, are they suddenly acting out of the ordinary? Do they appear very…happy, out of the blues? Substance abusers and their family members go through cycle over and over again until the sufferer is prepared for it to end.

Substance abuse have destroyed families, but sobriety can bring them back together, and there are proof that families can be restored.


– Shemilore Jegede

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