The social and legal consequences of addiction to OxyContin, fentanyl, Percocet, heroin etc.
Attend any 12-step meeting for recovering addicts, or recovery-based group therapy, and you’ll hear the familiar refrain: “I couldn’t hold a job, my wife left me, I lost my kids, I went to jail, crashed the car…” When it comes to the consequences of opiate addiction, the litany of misfortune goes on and on. While we commonly think of withdrawal symptoms like those immortalized by the film Trainspotting as being the defining characteristic of the addict, what about the social and legal consequences of addiction to OxyContin, fentanyl, Percocet, heroin and other opioid narcotics?
Opiate addiction has far-reaching consequences not only for the addict’s future mental, physical and emotional health, but also for all the people whose lives are touched by the addict. That list includes parents, siblings, spouses, children, employers, and society as a whole. Here are some of the ways that addiction to OxyContin, fentanyl, Percocet, heroin and other opioids can negatively impact upon the world at large.
Home and family life can be shattered by addiction
If one spouse is an addict, the effect on the other spouse can be devastating. Say a man begins to notice that his wife is acting strangely; she is depressed, secretive, has mood swings. Suspecting a medical or mental health problem, he doesn’t want to confront her, but hopes the symptoms pass. They don’t. Perhaps he discovers she is addicted, and tries to get her to seek help, but she won’t acknowledge the problem. Fights ensue which confuse and upset the children. The husband is put in the position of primary caregiver for the children because his wife is no longer equal to the task. She devastates the family finances and causes embarrassment at family gatherings. The marriage is no longer important to her and the husband seeks a separation with the support of the rest of his family. The wife has lost what previously mattered to her most in life: her family. She is under an ultimatum to stay sober or else she cannot see them.
At this point she may seek help, but detox and rehab can be just the start of a long, often bumpy road to recovery from opiate addiction. The family is left to struggle on without her, while the children eternally hope their mother will ‘get better’ but are faced with serious disappointment every time there is a relapse or setback.
Young people addicted to OxyContin, Percocet, fentanyl etc. can compromise their future
Addiction affects a surprising number of teens, who may obtain access to their parents’ prescription narcotics or purchase them, along with other opiate drugs such as heroin, on the street. Addiction will begin to isolate the young person from their relationships with their peers and family. One obvious effect is missing school; as the child gets further and further behind in their work, perhaps gets involved in street culture or gang activity, and turns to dealing, prostitution or crime to get high, school ceases to be a priority. Eventually they may drop out altogether and find themselves unable or unwilling to return.
Legal consequences of opiate addiction
Employers are legally forbidden from terminating an employee on the basis of an addiction without first offering some form of assistance or therapy. However in practice, employees who can no longer show up for work or adequately perform their duties due to opiate addiction, are often terminated. This reduction in income can be the last straw that breaks up a marriage or even turn a normally law-abiding person into a criminal who must commit crimes to support his or her habit. Whether it’s stealing from a friend, committing cheque fraud, or robbing a bank to obtain the necessary funds, the addict may begin to come into contact with police and the criminal justice system. In some cities, the majority of money-related crimes like mugging and robbery are attributable to drug addicts who resort to violence for their next fix.
Sadly, once a person has obtained a criminal record, even if the underlying reason was to bankroll an addiction to oxy, heroin, Percocet, fentanyl or some other opiate, their chances of obtaining certain jobs and even housing, can be significantly diminished.
These are just some of the consequences of opiate addiction. There are many others. If opiate addiction affects you or someone you know, get help now!