Sample Psychology Research Paper on Chemical Dependency and the Family

Chemical dependency affects both individuals and families globally. Addiction to drug substances, such as methamphetamine, is the main source of chemical dependency in the contemporary world. Many individuals are addicted to methamphetamine without their family’s knowledge or approval. However, some individuals become hooked on these drugs with the knowledge and even financial support of their families. Chemical dependency negatively affects family life regardless of whether individuals are addicted to methamphetamine with or without their families’ knowledge and support. Appropriate psychological intervention and care based on both cognitive behavioral therapy and family-based therapy can be used to treat chemical dependency on methamphetamine and other drugs. Indeed, fighting addiction to Methamphetamine and other drugs is a complicated process because of the various challenges, such as addiction-enabling environments, that characterize it, but these issues can be resolved to promote treatment.


Methamphetamine is a hard drug that serves both medicinal and recreational purposes. The drug was discovered in 1893 and is composed of two enantiomers: levomethamphetamine and dextromethamphetamine (Krasnova & Cadet, 2009). Methamphetamine is used medically as a second-line drug in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and, to some extent, obesity more so in adults (Krasnova & Cadet, 2009). The drug is also used for recreational purposes due to its aphrodisiac and euphoriant nature. Moreover, methamphetamine is considered a dangerous recreational substance and is categorized under schedule II of the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances (Krasnova & Cadet, 2009). Although the international distribution, production, and usage of methamphetamine are banned, it is still widely used in various nations across Asia, Oceania, and the United States. In small doses, methamphetamine can elevate mood, increase energy and alertness, and promote weight loss by reducing appetite (Krasnova & Cadet, 2009). However, when administered in heavy doses, the drug induces psychosis, seizures, brain hemorrhage, and breakdown of skeletal muscle (Krasnova & Cadet, 2009). Moreover, usage of the drug is characterized by massive post-acute-withdrawal syndrome characterized by severe headaches that makes quitting difficult (Krasnova & Cadet, 2009). Methamphetamine is also quite expensive; thus, affect the family life of those addicted to the drug as they are highly likely to get into financial constraints.

Psychological Interventions Approaches

Chemical dependency in the family can be properly solved through the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy. In the contemporary practice of psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy is widely used in chemical dependency treatment as it establishes the connection between an individual’s thoughts and feelings and his or her substance addiction (McHugh, Hearon, & Otto, 2010). Therefore, cognitive behavioral therapy enables both the addict and his or her family to understand the genesis of the chemical dependency, how best it can be treated, and how a relapse into addiction can be avoided. Cognitive-behavioral therapy combines two therapeutic approaches: cognitive and behavioral therapies. While cognitive therapy focuses on mental aspects of addiction, such as thoughts, feelings, and emotions that promote drug abuse by individuals, behavioral therapy addresses the actions and conduct of an individual that leads to substance abuse. Therefore, it provides a practical treatment option for addicts and their families (McHugh et al., 2010). According to McHugh (2015), the integration of both behavioral and cognitive therapy concepts enable the cognitive behavioral therapy model to help addicts identify the negative thoughts and feelings that trigger substance abuse and how best they can be avoided. Therefore, cognitive behavioral therapy lets addicts and their families detect and properly deal with self-destructive thoughts that fuel substance abuse.

Family-based therapy is also an efficient psychological intervention approach that can be utilized in the treatment of chemical dependency. This method is the best model for dealing with addiction as it is based on a systems framework that ensures that both the addict and his or her family are actively involved in the treatment process (Steele et al., 2020). The family plays a central role in the treatment and resolution of various health issues, particularly substance abuse. For example, the family that provides addicts with finances to fuel their substance abuse and bail them out whenever law enforcement officers arrest them. Moreover, it is the family that is always the most affected by the negative effects of chemical dependency, such as illness, death, divorce, and even financial difficulties caused by addiction to drugs (Steele et al., 2020). The systems perspective, upon which family-based therapy is based, holds that the family is made up of complex relational patterns, therefore, changes in one part of the system result in changes in other parts (Steele et al., 2020). Therefore, family-based therapy provides a treatment solution that meets the needs of all family members. This therapy focuses on the creation of functional relationships between an addict and his or her family members through proper communication and role-playing. According to Carroll and Kiluk (2017), most chemical dependency cases are a result of dysfunctional family dynamics that result in strained relations between an addict and his or her family members. Addicts in dysfunctional families are highly likely to relapse as they are not supported but are deemed as outcasts. Thus, the family is an important factor when it comes to addiction and treatment for it.

Family-based therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can be integrated for optimum treatment of individuals addicted to hard drugs such as methamphetamine. The approaches can be utilized either solely as monotherapy or amalgamated as part of combined treatment strategies, particularly when dealing with substance use disorder (Carroll & Kiluk, 2017). Mixing the two therapeutic models is the most effective way of dealing with methamphetamine addiction, which is characterized by severe post-acute-withdrawal syndrome (Krasnova & Cadet, 2009). Combining both cognitive-behavioral and family-based therapies enables a counselor to efficiently utilize the motivational interviewing concept to fully unearth the reasons, thoughts, and feelings that motivate substance abuse by an addict. This information can help both the counselor and addict’s family to come up with a cognitive-behavioral skill-based intervention program to enhance the individual’s coping skills and prevent relapse (Carroll & Kiluk, 2017). Moreover, the integrated intervention can help a counselor develop a contingency management program centered on the family structure to ensure that family members play a key role in preventing the addict from relapsing. The contingency management program can be successfully implemented by the family members fully supporting an addict through the torturous withdrawal stage. Both the family and cognitive behavioral therapy can also be jointly used by both an addict’s counselor and family to prepare a community reinforcement approach to enable a seamless integration of the addict into society.

Barriers Associated with Educating Families

Several barriers hinder the effective application of the psychological intervention approaches aimed at treating chemical dependencies. Language barrier is a big challenge in the education of families on psychological interventions necessary for the successful treatment of chemical dependencies (Steele and Waite et al., 2013). For example, a counselor dealing with an Asian immigrant family in America that is not fluent in English is highly likely to face problems in the course of his or her dispensation of the relevant psychological care due to the inability to communicate effectively with the clients. In such a case, a counselor would require an interpreter, which also poses its own disadvantages, such as preventing the establishment of a good rapport between the psychologist and his or her clients. Moreover, the use of an interpreter may result in information being distorted and therefore frustrating the psychological intervention (Steele and Waite et al., 2013). Cultural differences are also a huge barrier in the education of families on the requisite psychological approaches needed for the treatment of chemical dependency. Some cultures, more so the indigenous communities, disdain professional counseling, and deem it an intrusion into their personal lives (Stockings et al., 2016). This issue poses a huge challenge to the proper dispensation of psychological interventions as counselors require information on an addict’s medical and behavioral history to deliver proper psychological care.

Denial within the family and normalization of drug abuse also hinder families’ education on psychological interventions related to chemical dependency. Many families are afraid of the embarrassment and social rejection that accompany the revelation of a member being a drug addict (Steele and Waite et al., 2013). Therefore, families shun matters dealing with education on chemical dependency. Moreover, other families also have a long history of chemical dependency, thus see nothing wrong with the issue; hence do not seek intervention. For example, an individual brought up in a family in which drug abuse is condoned cannot easily accept education, proving or highlighting the negative effects of chemical dependency.

Overcoming the Barriers

The mentioned barriers can be overcome in a number of ways. For example, counselors can embrace diversity and sharpen their cultural diversity skills to tackle the cultural barrier that hinders families’ education. According to the Association for Multicultural Counselling and Development (AMCD), counselors practicing in the current multi-diverse psychology field have understood the needs of clients from diverse backgrounds for them to efficiently handle divergent clients (Stockings et al., 2016). Counselors must deal with each chemical dependency case from their client’s worldview and his or her family’s to ensure that the counselor remains conscious of the client’s culture and family’s perspective. Moreover, the counselor must ensure that his or her actions are in line with professional, ethical safeguards. Counselors can deal with the language barrier by finding professional psychologists who can properly understand their client’s indigenous language (Stockings et al., 2016). With the client’s permission, the counselor can transfer the client to the requisite professional for ease of communication. Counselors can deal with the issue of family denial by promising and safeguarding their client’s confidentiality. That way, the clients are assured that no pertinent information regarding them is made public, which may help alleviate the family’s fear of embarrassment.

Family Behaviors That Harm Rather Than Help Addicts

Several family actions, though some being done under with the intention of helping, only serve to harm addicts. Most family members are enablers: they promote addicts’ chemical dependency. Family members enable addicts’ chemical dependency by providing them with money or paying their bills, which reduces the users’ expenditure, leaving them with money to spend on drugs (Stockings et al., 2016). Moreover, family members also cover up for users and constantly makeup excuses for their bad drug-induced behavior. Moreover, family members constantly bail out their drug-addicted family members whenever law enforcement officers arrest them, and this enables their chemical dependency. According to Stockings et al. (2016), most family members enable chemical dependency by constantly purchasing prescription drugs from pharmacies and drug stores for their addicted relatives and kin. Most pharmacies and drug stores do not sell drugs to addicts, which pushes most addicts to use their close family members to purchase prescription drugs for them. When family members do the mentioned actions to ”help” their addicted loved ones, they deny the addicts incentives to stop their drug use. Lastly, families enable chemical dependency in addicts by constantly interfering with their withdrawal process and therefore facilitating their relapse (Carroll & Kiluk, 2017). The withdrawal process is quite torturous and characterized by addicts suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, such as fever and vomiting. Most family members find it difficult to watch their kin suffer from the torturous withdrawal process and, therefore, provide the addicts with drugs and thus facilitate their relapse.

Negative Impacts of Family Members on Treatment Outcomes

Family members usually influence treatment outcomes of their addicted members negatively. Family dysfunction negatively impacts the treatment outcomes of addicts rather than helping them in their recovery. Dysfunctional families are characterized by a lack of proper and strong relationships, love, and understanding and therefore pose a huge challenge in the recovery of addicts (Steele and Waite et al., 2013). While addicts require constant support and strong family relations based on open communication and love, most dysfunctional families tend to distance themselves from addicts as they view them as a source of embarrassment and disgrace. When a family distances itself from an addict on the basis of social embarrassment, the individual sinks deeper into chemical dependency to avoid feeling guilt for shaming his family. Such occurrences frustrate the treatment outcomes and progress of the addict (Steele and Waite et al., 2013). Addicts require the support of their families for their smooth integration back into mainstream society. Therefore, families should be at the forefront of leading the addict’s recovery and seamless reintegration in society by providing them with economic opportunities whenever possible. However, this cannot be possible in a dysfunctional family that lacks proper support structures for the addict. Thus, the lack of support for addicts through family dysfunction is the main reason for failed treatment outcomes of chemical dependency.


Chemical dependency is a huge social, economic, and political issue in the world. Addiction to drugs and substances such as methamphetamine mostly affects the family members of addicts who are forced to bear the negative effects of chemical dependency. Therefore, a family-oriented intervention process is required in the successful treatment of chemical dependency. Both family-based therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can be utilized to provide psychological intervention to addicts. Family support for addicts is key in ensuring their effective recovery and reintegration in society. Family members also engage in a number of activities that enable addiction and relapse of addicts by giving them funds and paying their bills. This perspective negates the efficacy of treatment outcomes and worsens chemical dependency in individuals.




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