Impact of alcohol and drug abuse on families

By Dr. G. Shreekumar Menon

7 min read
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Family structures across India have undergone massive transformation at various levels. The disintegration of the joint family system which comprised of multi-generational families, into nuclear families to single‐parent families, stepfamilies and foster families, has led to multiple social issues, prominently the consumption of alcohol and drug abuse has become more rampant now than ever before. When a family member abuses alcohol or other kinds of drugs, the effect on the family may differ according to the family structure.

Newspaper reports are replete with rising criminal behaviour among youngsters. It is not just minors but also adults who are becoming more sadistic and lethal when challenged by rivals or even by close family members. As society becomes aggressive and violent and start modelling their behaviour on the kind of mindless violence enacted in movies and web series, there need not be any doubt that the society is fast disintegrating. The craze for violence filled Korean web series and video games is spurring aggressive tendencies in youngsters. The Covid lockdown and consequent closure of schools, colleges and entertainment centres, compelled many youngsters to explore the internet, which abounds in content not meant for minors. Lack of supervision by elders has created a grave situation. This is a problem with identifiable manifestations in all strata of the socio-economic environment, giving rise to the use of drugs/alcohol leading to marital discord and break-up, and single parenting, which is creating complex societal issues.

The above alarming deviation of society compels us to deliberate on the consequences of substance abuse especially psychological consequences that spouses, parents, and children experience. Many youth indulge themselves in drugs and substance abuse for all sorts of reasons. They range from dysfunctional families, peer influence, availability of alcohol and drugs, influence of the social media, unemployment and stress, rejection in love affairs and so on. Such myriads of reasons are given as justification for indulging in abusing drugs at such an young age. In addition to this, factors that might be beyond an individual’s control such as personality, genetics as well as the environment are also fundamental determinants of drug abuse. Recently, India’s apex child right’s body – National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Narcotics Control Bureau have asked all Police stations for regular checking of CCTV cameras installed around schools and educational institutions to check drug and substance abuse by kids. It has also recommended that chemists sell drugs under Schedule H, H1 or X only by updating information in mobile app-based management information systems to ensure that underage kids do not get them without prescription and develop dependency.