Treatment facilities have been dotted with individuals’ need for personal care and personal recovery efforts.
The state of women’s treatment in Barbados was at an all-time low or one could say hidden in the shadows, as there was no physical treatment facility geared specifically to women. With the opening of Marina House, we have changed the landscape of treatment and now we are forever changing the landscape for women in recovery.
Traditionally, Barbados is a matrifocal society, with women being the head of the household in terms of child care and guidance. A women’s role in society is to rear children, creating opportunities for nurturance. A woman with an addiction is the starting point for many societal challenges. If a mother is using, then the responsibility for child care begins to shift to the extended family. Now, one may ask, why can’t she take care of her child while she is using? First of all, we must look at the type of drugs that we are seeing in treatment at the moment. Women are currently using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Women have a lower tolerance for drugs, based on their physiological make-up and any drug entering the system can be potentially hazardous to the woman. It is therefore important to realize that drugs such as alcohol and cocaine can take a woman away from her home for extended periods of time, leaving the care of her children to other family members or the state.
When we look at the type of drug use we are seeing in treatment, one must then ask, are we having larger conversations about these types of drugs and women, or is it hidden in the shadows? Do we talk about the mother who is a raging alcoholic who only drinks in the comfort of her own home? Are we talking about the young mother who uses cocaine and disappears for days on end while the family is frantically searching for her? While these are only brief examples, imagine the tremendous impact that they would have on the larger family construct.
Here are a few ways in which the family construct could be potentially challenged during drug use.
· She would be spending more of her time using and less of her time parenting.
· If she is involved in a marriage, there is a new strain on the marital relationship.
· While child rearing, there would be an increased risk associated with drug use. The risk may include exposing the child to the drug environment, leaving children alone to seek drug use, or engaging in risky behaviours that could physically harm the child.
· Children may not be able to concentrate at school as a result of their mother’s interactions with them, or the parents’ interaction with each other.
· Children’s emotional attachment may waver during the time of drug use.
· Husbands or partners may have a tough time concentrating and completing tasks at their workplace.
· Grandparents may have an increased participation in child rearing from financial to emotional.
· The productivity of the workforce is reduced significantly if more people have to take care of the children or family members have to take time off from work.
· The family may experience isolation from social activities.
· The family may encounter financial strain to cover the existing drug use or fall out from drug use.
Wherever the drug use occurs, more than one person is directly impacted. An entire family is now faced with the decision to recover and to now live life on life’s terms.