Entries tagged with “substance abuse”.


Talking to kids about a parent's addictionTalking to kids about a parent’s substance abuse problem isn’t easy, but this is a conversation you simply can’t ignore. Brushing the topic aside gives children the message that addiction is a shameful family secret. Instead, plan to discuss a parent’s decision to seek treatment in an age-appropriate manner—setting the stage for open and honest communication.

Teaching the 7 C’s of Addiction

According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, the 7 C’s of addiction can serve as a useful framework for helping children understand a parent’s substance abuse problem and how it affects their own lives.

I didn’t cause it.
I can’t cure it.
I can’t control it.
I can care for myself
By communicating my feelings,
Making healthy choices, and
By celebrating myself.

After you’ve talked to your child, consider sharing a copy of the 7 C’s of addiction. Your child may wish to display a copy of this information in his or her bedroom or to carry it in a wallet or backpack as a reminder of how to handle conflicting feelings surrounding a parent’s substance abuse treatment.

Explaining Addiction to Kids Under 10

At this age, children still live in a me-centered world. This means they’re likely to blame themselves for a parent’s addiction-related behavior. Your task is help your child understand that their mother or father’s addiction is not their fault and to reassure them of your family’s love and commitment to each other.

You can begin the conversation by bringing up an example of behavior that your child witnessed, such as an argument occurring after your spouse missed your child’s school play to go out drinking with friends. Explain that addiction is a disease that causes people to make bad choices, even when they know those bad choices hurt themselves or others. Stress that the parent in treatment is getting help for his or her illness, much like you would take your child to the doctor for a high fever or a bad cut.

Talking to Tweens

Tweens are at the stage of their lives where they’re attuned to rumors and gossip. When you talk to your tween about a parent’s addiction, your goal should be to make sure he or she has all the facts.

Plan to talk to your tween in a calm, quiet location that’s free of distractions. State the facts simply, saying that the parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol and is seeking treatment for this illness. Give your tween ample opportunity to ask questions, answering as truthfully as you are able to. Stress the importance of coming to together as family during this time and invite your tween to come to you whenever he or she is feeling sad or angry about the situation.

Talking to Teens

Teens often have a different perspective on addiction than younger children. They may be resentful for having to handle household chores and care for younger siblings when a parent is under the influence. They may also be jealous of friends who they view as having “perfect” families.

When you’re talking to your teen, express your appreciation for all your teen has done to help the family during this time and acknowledge the impact this experience has had on his or her life. You can point out that all families have their own struggles, but avoid taking a condescending or dismissive tone. Teens will often shut down if they feel they’re not being respected as part of the conversation.

After your teen has had a chance to process the initial discussion, you should broach the subject of what a family history of addiction means. While genetics aren’t destiny, studies have shown that having a parent or other close relative who suffers from addiction does increase a teen’s risk of developing a substance abuse problem. Stress your concern for your teen’s wellbeing and help him or her explore interests and hobbies that can will reduce the urge to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

Seeking Help for Your Child

The experience of living with a parent’s addiction can cause some children to act out. If you notice that your child is experiencing signs of depression or anxiety, such as changes in appetite, sleeping patterns, academic performance, and time spent with friends, he or she may be in need of counseling to help process the feelings associated with a parent in treatment. Your pediatrician can refer you to a qualified therapist in your area. Attending Ala-teen or a related support group for children in similar situations may also be beneficial.

By Dana Hinders

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**Updated August 2017**

I recently spoke with a young man who was “having a problem with opiates.”  In actuality, he was trying hard to convince both himself and me that his prescription medication abuse wasn’t serious.  Certainly he felt it would be wrong to call himself an “addict.”

The hard facts make it impossible to offer comfort or minimize the severity of opiate addiction, whether to painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, or street drugs like heroin.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 91 Americans die every day from opioid use. They are now the #1 cause of accidental death in this country.

opiate addictions are incredibly difficult to overcomeThe severity of an opiate addiction cannot be stressed enough; they hijack the brain and can quickly lead to behaviors that destroy relationships, careers, financial success and character.  Prescription drug use is also fueling a heroin epidemic because the high cost of an addiction to Percocet, Oxycodone or other painkillers often forces a switch to heroin, which is less expensive but much more dangerous.

Here are 7 hard truths about opiate addictions:

  1. Addiction to opiates occurs very rapidly and withdrawal symptoms can occur after only a week of using.  One study suggests that addiction will inevitably occur within 12 weeks of continuous use…but the struggle will last a lifetime.
  2. The “physical” pull of addiction is short-term and is not the major trigger that creates cravings.  The more powerful pull is “psychological” because the brain remembers the change in feelings produced by the drug. The addict must learn to manage this pull to avoiding using again.
  3. Detox from opiates – without a proven, effective recovery program – is usually a waste of time and money. Until an addicted person has learned how to manage his or her thoughts, and the “psychological pull” of the disease, the cravings will most likely return and cause relapse.
  4. Using medications to manage opiate use has a very poor success rates. The only lasting road to recovery is a lifestyle change in which stress and emotions are managed, and a solid support network is established.
  5. Tolerance toward opiates (and all other drugs for that matter) increases with use. A progressively larger amount is needed, which increases the likelihood of overdose. One study recently calculated that most opiate abusers only live for 10 years after starting the drug if they do not enter into recovery.
  6. The physical pull of withdrawal is hardest in the first week, as opiates leave the body fairly quickly. The rebalancing and repair of the brain takes months, and while the psychological pull of addiction may be strongest for the first 90 days, many different things can trigger it at any time.
  7. Opiate addicts who try to manage their addiction with “willpower” rarely have more than 60-90 days of sobriety.  The majority of those people relapse in less than 30 days.  The people who truly succeed in overcoming their addiction are those who work hard to stay in recovery every day for the rest of their lives.

There were no easy or comforting words that can be offered to an opiate addict without minimizing the dangers of their addiction or the importance of committing to recovery.  Too many people underestimate the severity of an addiction to painkillers because they are legal drugs.  We must all realize that opiate addiction is truly a national crisis.  We must help people break free of this addiction that is destroying so many families, so many futures and so many lives.

For more information about the opiate and heroin epidemic, including recovery options, visit the following blog posts:

 

Call 888-352-3297 or click here to get help now.


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If you had a disease that could kill you without an operation, my guess is that you would diligently seek a well-qualified surgeon with an excellent track record in hopes of saving your life.  Why then do people often select a treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction without equal dedication?  While addiction is a powerful disease with the potential to destroy families, careers, reputations and lives, many people base their search on unimportant criteria. All too often a rehab facility is selected based on its nearby location or proximity to a warm beach, rather than its approach & proven ability to help people establish a solid recovery.

Seven questions are listed below that address critical areas of addiction treatment.  Ask yourself these questions while searching for and selecting a rehab facility.  Hopefully they will help you make an important, possibly life-saving decision.

Individual Counseling is Often More Effective than Group Counseling

  1. What is the treatment program approach? Lecturing alone doesn’t work, nor do scare tactics, and there is no “program” that offers a proven cure.  The treatment should seek to understand the issues that drive an individual’s addiction and help them find resolution. It should also provide the understanding and skills that are necessary to live life differently. This includes identifying the risk factors and “triggers” that fuel their addiction and developing strategies to address these in a new and better way.
  2. Does the treatment program have enough one-on-one therapy?  Group therapy can be very useful, and although it is used by most addiction rehabs, it has important limitations.  The personal issues that often fuel addiction – trauma, low self-esteem, grief, resentments, etc. – are usually more effectively addressed on an individual basis.
  3. Does the program identify mental health issues & address these in treatment? Research suggests that approximately 70% of those seeking addiction treatment have mental health issues that need to be considered.  In so many situations, these issues are the “real problem” and addiction is the “symptom.
  4. Do the staff & educators have advanced degrees and demonstrable experience? When a drug and alcohol treatment program recognizes the importance of the mental health issues, they hire staff with the necessary expertise.  Licensing boards are beginning to require that addiction counselors have at least a Master’s degree.
  5. Is there a “holistic” approach that looks at all aspects of a person’s life in defining a path to lasting sobriety? Recovery from addiction requires that life be lived differently.  The sources of stress, relationship conflicts, poor boundaries, emotional dependency issues and the home environments are among the many issues that must be considered in creating a plan for the future.  Recovery requires changes that address the areas of life that must improve so that a person can experience more joy, more passion, more happiness, and more peace.
  6. Is the treatment facility committed to helping build a strong & sustainable plan for recovery? Rehab is but the first step in a life-long journey out of the dark place created by addiction.  The development of a plan for the future is critical.  It must provide the support, change, accountability and professional help necessary to avoid relapse. 
  7. Has the facility thoroughly investigated your insurance coverage and what the financial costs will be if your benefits are denied? Insurance companies do not like paying for addiction treatment and have dozens of clever strategies to avoid responsibility.  Checking the benefits is only the first step.  The important work is the research to determine whether the insurance company has criteria that will prevent the payment of these benefits, or will terminate treatment before it is complete.

Addiction treatment is about saving lives and changing lives.  However, like every industry, it has the “good, the bad, and the ugly.”  Choosing a facility requires dedicated research and resolve to make the best possible decision.

By Michael Campbell


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