Family Resource


April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This observance, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), stresses the need for education regarding alcoholism and addiction recovery.

At St. Joseph Institute, we stand together with NCADD to encourage an open and honest conversation about the risks associated with underage drinking. In this post, we’ll outline six tips for talking to your teen about alcohol use.

1. Begin the Conversation as Early as Possible

It’s best to begin talking to your children about alcohol use in the upper elementary grades. Statistic indicate that about one-third of young people have begun experimenting with alcohol by the end of eighth grade, with boys reporting their first drink at 11 and girls reporting their first drink at 13. This is troubling because children who start drinking before 15 are five times more likely to abuse alcohol later in life than those who begin drinking after 21.

Of course, it’s never too late to start discussing the risks of underage drinking. Older teens still need your guidance as they navigate the challenge of becoming independent young adults.

2. Promote Positive Relationships

Friendships play an important role in helping kids develop their own unique sense of self. Making an effort to get to know your child’s friends can help ensure that these relationships stay positive. Encourage your teen to invite friends over to your home regularly—using snacks, movies, video games, and music to create a welcoming atmosphere.

It’s also important to maintain contract with the parents of your teen’s friends and establish that they share your values in regards to underage drinking. Do not allow your teen to attend parties where there will be no adult supervision or to spend time at homes where alcohol is readily accessible to minors.

3. Encourage Extracurricular Activities

Kids who are involved in sports, music, drama, and other extracurricular activities are better equipped to resist the pressure to drink because they’ve seen firsthand that alcohol isn’t necessary to have a good time. If your child is struggling to find a suitable activity at school, consider searching for volunteer opportunities in the community, such as working at an animal shelter or the public library.

Getting a part-time job may also be an option for older teens. Work experience teaches time management skills, teamwork, and responsibility. All of these attributes will help your teen make wise decisions in the years to come.

4. Stress the Risks

Pop culture often portrays drinking as a harmless way to relax and have fun. Talking to your teen about the darker side of alcohol use helps put the issue in perspective, especially if you can provide context in regards to portrayals of underage drinking in your child’s favorite movie or television show.

NCADD has a fact sheet with underage drinking statistics that can provide a starting point for discussing the risk of making poor decisions while intoxicated. Risks for teens include getting into fights, having unprotected sex, suffering from alcohol poisoning, or being involved in an auto accident.

5. Be Honest About Your Own History

If you’ve struggled with alcoholism or you’ve seen the consequences of a family member’s drinking problem firsthand, don’t be afraid to share this story with your teen. You don’t need to provide every intimate detail, but these personal stories are often a highly effective way of getting a teen to recognize the dangers associated with alcohol use.

It’s also important for your teen to know that having a family history of alcoholism puts him or her at a higher risk of developing similar problems. Genetics isn’t destiny, but abstaining from underage drinking is the best way for your teen to stay safe.

6. Know the Warning Signs

Drastic changes in academic performance, decreased personal hygiene, neglecting responsibilities at home, and a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities are some of the signs that suggest your teen may have a drinking problem. Depression, mood swings, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating are also cause for concern.

If your teen has already been experimenting with alcohol, encourage him or her to take the self-test for teenagers on the NCADD website. This simple questionnaire evaluates a teen’s risk factors for problem drinking, providing you with a baseline to determine if further services are needed.

Couple Holding Hands

Watching your spouse or partner struggle with addiction isn’t easy, but this challenge doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship. With patience, commitment, and determination, your marriage can emerge from this struggle stronger than ever before.

Start a New Chapter in Your Relationship

Try to look at your spouse being in recovery as an opportunity to build a new marriage and start a fresh chapter in your own personal love story. Let go of past mistakes, hurt, and anger.  Focus on discovering who your partner is as a sober individual and give yourself permission to fall in love all over again.

One way to build a new marriage with a spouse in recovery is to set aside a regular “date night” to talk and reconnect, just as you did when you first met. Some great sober date ideas to consider including going for a walk in the park, visiting a museum together, going bowling, checking out an arcade, or volunteering for a non-profit organization you both support.

Listen Without Judging

Addiction is difficult to truly understand unless you’ve struggled with substance abuse issues yourself. However, being willing to listen without judgment can go a long way towards creating a better marriage when your spouse is in recovery.

In today’s fast-paced world, we’re often guilty of multi-tasking instead of taking the time to truly communicate. At the end of the day, put down your phone, turn off the TV, and give your spouse your undivided attention. Recovery is an ongoing process, so setting aside 15 to 20 minutes each day to reconnect in this fashion can go a long way towards keeping your spouse on the path of sobriety.

Make Time for Self-Care

When you’re the spouse of a recovering addict, it’s easy to become so overwhelmed by your partner’s needs that you neglect to take care of yourself. However, self-care is an essential part of building a strong marriage. You can’t be a supportive partner without creating a strong foundation for yourself.

Self-care includes eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting the rest that your body needs, as well as finding time for activities you enjoy apart from your partner. This may include solo pursuits such as gardening or reading as well as catching up with old friends. When your own mind, body, and soul have been nourished, you’ll be able to bring your “best self” to the marriage.

Start a Journal

Keeping a journal can be a wonderful way to explore your feelings surrounding your spouse’s recovery without creating additional tension in your marriage. When you’re feeling hurt, angry, or disappointed, writing in your journal can help you work out your issues before you’re tempted to lash out at your spouse.

If you don’t consider yourself much of a writer, try making lists or creating an art journal that combines doodles and collages with words that express how you feel. If you’re not fond of writing by hand, create a special folder on your laptop for journal entries. There’s no right or wrong way to journal—all that matters is you choose an approach that works for you.

Seek Counseling

Marriage counseling is so much more than just a last-ditch strategy to avoid divorce. Any couple going through major life changes can benefit from marriage counseling. Having an objective third party to offer advice, guide discussions, and teach communication techniques can help you feel more confident as you work towards your sober future together.

If you have children who are struggling to understand your spouse’s addiction, family counseling sessions may be beneficial as well. An experienced therapist can help your family address parenting challenges and brainstorm ideas for how you can all support each other.

 
To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 

Family support

Are you wondering whether someone you care about needs addiction treatment? The road to a substance abuse problem isnt a straight line. For most people, its more like a slippery slope. When the person in need and their families look back at past events, they can see how the addiction developed, but its difficult to point to a single moment where they knew they were in trouble.

When questioning whether your loved one needs help, it’s easy to dismiss these thoughts at first. No one wants to immediately conclude that a family member, friend or colleague needs rehab. It makes sense to compare what you think may be occurring against a list of symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction. If the behaviors you are seeing line up with the symptoms, your suspicions may be accurate.

Signs and Symptoms of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

The following list provides some of the most common signs of an addiction problem.

Isolation
If your loved one is hiding their alcohol or drug use from others or says that they dont want anyone to be in their business,its a sign that they are justifying their behavior. They may be feeling embarrassed about either what they are taking or how much they are drinking or using, and dont want anyone to know.

Lying
Your loved one may tell you very elaborate stories about where they have been and what they have been doing. If this is not their usual way of speaking, be aware that they may be lying to you.

Addicts often believe that as long as they have a good story, they are able to convince other people of anything. This is their notion of being in control of a situation. The longer they are addicted, the more elaborate the stories will become.

Anger
If you confront an addict about their lies, they are likely to respond with anger. Some people may become violent as they try to tell another lie to get themselves out of the situation. Becoming angry and defensive when you try to discuss the issue can be a sign of addiction.

Mood Swings
Your loved one may display mood swings if they are addicted to alcohol or drugs. During a short time, they could appear happy but then their mood could turn angry, sad, or withdrawn. Youll want to make note of the rapid shift in moods, not necessarily the exact mood states. Someone who is shifting moods often likely needs to seek professional help.

Blackouts
If your loved one reports not being able to remember certain periods of time or events, its a sign that their drinking or drug use is heavy enough to cause blackouts. This situation is cause for alarm. It should prompt you to talk to your loved one about seeing a doctor about their health and to seek advice about addiction treatment.

Inability to Slow Down or Stop on their Own
One sign of addiction is when a person makes promises to themselves and others to either slow down their consumption or stop completely and is unable to do so. Someone who is addicted no longer has a choice about whether they will drink or do drugs–the disease is in control of their actions. At that point, the person needs to seek substance abuse treatment.

Next Steps if You Know Your Loved One Needs Addiction Treatment

If you read through the list of signs and symptoms and realize that your loved one needs addiction treatment, your next steps will depend on whether they have asked for help.

If Your Loved One Has Asked for Help
This is an important first step in getting your loved one the help they need. Talk to them to see if they would be willing to see a doctor for an evaluation. Depending on the type of health insurance plan your loved one has, they may need a referral to a doctor specializing in addiction medicine. If they dont need one, use the Find a Physicianfeature on the American Society of Addiction Medicine website to find a specialist near you.

If Your Loved One Hasn’t Asked for Help
In a situation where your loved one hasnt approached you and asked for help, you can still look for addiction treatment centers in their area. If you do some research and provide the information, it may encourage them to seek help.

Look online for treatment centers near your city, in your county and state. The addiction treatment centers website should provide you with information about the type of services it provides (detox, inpatient, outpatient) and the types of insurance it accepts. Most treatment facilities have a toll-free number where you can speak to an intake counselor. These centers are also very familiar with different insurance companiesofferings and whether a doctors referral is required before starting treatment.

You can also ask whether the treatment center has other types of payment plans available (payment arrangements, sliding scale, scholarships), as well as specific questions about the program itself. Your loved one may be more likely to enter treatment when presented with information about a specific program.

 
To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 

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