Methamphetamine use destroys personalities and lives. The addiction doesn’t only impact the person who abuses the substance, but their entire support system. Families often end up torn apart over the use of this drug. 

One of the hallmarks of meth addiction is an increase in violent behavior, which can put loved ones at significant risk. Now, Brave Hearts NZ has launched a support group to provide comfort and resources to those touched by the crisis. 

Brave Hearts NZ to Support Families of Addicts 

The group recently established its first support group for families of addicts on the South Island. The organization felt inspired to take action due to a recent increase in family violence among methamphetamine users. Police recognize that over the last five years, the drug created additional societal problems. The group established the first support meetings three months ago, and they have plans to expand their operations to Richmond later this month. 

Things have gotten so dire that some parents have taken out restraining orders against their children. Families of addicts often struggle with what to do because they know their child risks jail — or worse — on the street. However, they cannot condone behavior that puts other family members at risk. 

Brave Hearts NZ became a registered charity in December of 2018. Its objective is providing help for family and friends of people who are living with or directly affected by an addicted loved one. It realizes that, while addicts need the support of their loved ones, caretakers need attention, too. It conducts regular awareness seminars to spread the message of hope. Many managing members of the board have endured struggles with loved ones who abused methamphetamines. 

The hope is that with continued advocacy, more family members of addicts can find the support they need to feel less alone. When they need to make challenging decisions — like whether to cut off financial support for a struggling family member — they have a community to consult. They can also gain strength through learning how others have overcome similar battles. 

Preventing Harm Among Addicts

One of the most substantial issues facing both family members of addicts and law enforcement is harm reduction. Effective harm reduction proves challenging in working with this population because authorities and loved ones alike must balance concern for the individual’s human rights with the need to protect others from their erratic behavior. For example, merely locking up an individual who poses a threat doesn’t address the underlying issue of substance abuse fueling their behavior. 

The issue of how much influence addiction plays in antisocial behavior also presents a tricky problem. In one study of meth users, more than half engaged in violent criminal activities that started before their substance use. Treating addicts’ behavioral needs, then, poses a chicken-and-egg question — did the antisocial tendencies spur the addiction, or does the substance use make violence worse? The two seem to feed off of each other, sending the user into a vicious downward spiral. 

Families of methamphetamine users often feel adrift and alone. They battle challenging decisions, such as whether they should take a tough-love approach by denying money to their addicted loved ones. As a result, the crisis cuts generational lines. Many grandparents, for example, now care for their grandchildren because their parents fell prey to this disease. The stigma associated with these disorders keeps many from reaching out for help, and when they do, they previously found few resources available. Brave Hearts NZ aims to help fill that gap. 

Helping Families Battling Addiction 

Families of addicts need a ton of support and understanding. More groups like Brave Hearts NZ can help to provide the resources they need. 

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About Author

Kate Harveston covers social justice and human rights issues. She graduated with a Bachelors in English and minored in Criminal Justice, so she enjoys writing about anything related to the intersections of law, politics and culture. For more of her writing, you can visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

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