2 minute read

Chemical Dependency and the Dysfunctional Family

Identifying Chemical DependencyTwo Types Of Dependency, Are You Chemically Dependent?

A s she rounded the corner, Shaneen noticed thick clouds of smoke coming from her house. She began to run. All she could think of were Jesse and Mikey. When she got close to the house, Shaneen found the boys huddled at the edge of the lawn. “What happened?” Shaneen asked.

“We were trying to make dinner. We were hungry,” Jesse said, crying.

Shaneen felt awful. Instead of being at home with her stepbrothers, she had been drinking in the park. Shaneen panicked as she noticed a police officer approaching her.

“Are you a member of this family?” the officer asked Shaneen.

“Yeah. These are my stepbrothers.”

“Where are your parents?”

“I, um…” Shaneen hesitated. “I don't know,” she finally admitted.

“Come with me,” the officer said, taking Shaneen aside for a moment. “I want you to answer truthfully: Have you been drinking?”

Shaneen didn't know what to say. She con sidered telling the officer the truth and asking for help, but then again, the last thing she needed was to get her family in trouble with the police.

Shaneen had thought that she could handle her family's problems as well as her own drink ing. Yet tonight she had gone out drinking on a school night when she should have been taking care of her stepbrothers, or doing homework at the very least. Shaneen knew she could stop drinking whenever she wanted—or could she? She was terrified of the answer.

Ray had failed a history test—again. But he wasn't sure if he cared about the test at all. No one cared how well he did in school, and he really was more interested in cocaine than schoolwork anyway.

He was anxious for the school day to be over so that he could go home and get high. The everyday stresses and disappointments that Ray had to face were already too much for him, and now he had to deal with another failing grade.

Ray was using cocaine every day. He used as much as he could buy. Most mornings Ray had trouble getting out of bed. When he did make it, he needed a hit of cocaine to get moving.

As his addiction got worse, he needed more and more cocaine just to get through the day. And he hated coming down. It left him feeling exhausted, weak, and totally out of it.

Ray and Shaneen are chemically dependent. That means that they have given up control of their life to a chemical substance—drugs or alcohol.

Do you need to have a house fire or start failing school to be chemically dependent? Not at all. Ray and Shaneen have been chemically dependent for a long time. Chemical dependency is part of a long process that began with that first hit or drink.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaChemical Dependency and the Dysfunctional Family