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Family Dynamics and Addiction

Is drug or alcohol use/abuse a symptom of a deeper issue for my child or our family dynamic?

There are many reasons why any one individual could turn to drug and alcohol abuse. For many, it is a means to help relax after a stressful moment. Others may partake in order to make a “good time even better.” Regardless of the reasoning, even the most innocent of situations could cause a downward spiral depending on the situation of the individual. For children, this could become a situational hazard that can set them on a dark path for the rest of their lives.

A study performed in 2008 showed that at least 39-percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 have tried alcohol at least once in their life. Many of these children try it as a result of curiosity. They wish to learn the allure alcohol has for parents and society members. Most of the time, a child may display disgust with the drink and won’t touch another for several years to come. However, there are those that continue the experience for much of the same reasons adults will. Can we see ourselves mirrored in our children?

1. Teenage Justification – Some teens will drink for no other reason than to demonstrate their own sense of being old enough to control their own lives. Other teens will utilize drugs and alcohol as a way to “fit in” with peers. Unfortunately, the process of fitting in could create an addiction to the feeling of belonging as well as the mind-altering state the chemicals provide. For many teenagers, it is a basic need to be liked by those of the same age group. Out of fear that they won’t fit in, they partake in behaviors that the teens rationally wouldn’t subject themselves to.

2. Parental Influence – As children learn a great deal of their behavior from parents as they grow, the influence of using drugs and alcohol can be great. In their young minds, they glorify the parents and assume that this is the behavior that is expected of them as they age. However, the extreme side of the behavior can also be attributed to the actions of the parent while under the influence of a substance. It is two distinct points of view that can have radical motivations of remaining sober or becoming an abuser.

Read more on the role families play in the fight against drugs at The American Mental Health Alliance website, where you will find two great articles; Part I: Impact on the Family and Part II: how recovery for the family offers much-needed hope and healing when it addresses substance abuse as a family disease.

3. A Vacation from Reality – One of the most predominant reasons why so many turn to drugs and alcohol is the feeling of euphoria that is granted. A life can be so disturbingly stressful that an individual needs to have a vacation from reality. For children, many situations are being experienced for the first time. This can become overwhelming for some and the drug or alcohol option could provide reprieve to the situation. Children don’t have the benefits of experience to fall back on and could become addicted to the sensations drugs and alcohol can provide. A child cannot raise him or herself and they do require the wisdom of someone who can help them through trying times.

Feeling overwhelmed, confused, angry, scared and guilty are all perfectly normal feelings for both you and your teen. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence number one recommendation for parents is to “Take an Active Role in Your Child’s Life.” As the main thing you need to do as parents to be effectively involved in preventing alcohol and drug problems for children.

4. In the Media – A study completed in 2003 showed children between the ages of 12 and 17 were more likely to use marijuana by six times and five times more likely to drink alcohol if they watched at least one “R” rated movie per month. What the study doesn’t show is how often the parent is involved in the child’s life and decision making. Raising a child to respect the difference between fiction and reality could skew those results. An eight-year-old who is taught the difference between fantasy and reality is less likely to have nightmares regarding movies and television shows. Could this style of parenting influence the decisions of children in regards to alcohol and drugs?

Your skills as a parent have a great influence in how your child reacts to specific stimuli. Although you want them to find their own paths as they develop, you shouldn’t stand back and watch them make profound mistakes. It’s your responsibility to root out problems and control the situation before it gets out of hand. It’s your role to guide them into being a productive member of society, not their friend. Children will abuse drugs and alcohol for the same reasons adults do. However, the children can benefit from the parent stepping in and getting to the heart of the problem that is causing the behavior in the first place.

Rachel Thomas Guest Blogger

Rachel Thomas


Author Bio:

Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.

 

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Prevent Your Teen From Taking Drugs

As I prepare for the Youth Drug Summit “A Community Conservation on Drugs” for the Flower Mound, Highland Village and Lewisville area, I want to share these parenting tips, my thoughts on the important role parents play during the turbulent teen years, and how imperative it is for parents to  join with your teen so together both teen and parent can “Keep Them Safe.”

The single known antidote — the only secret weapon that has consistently proven capable of disarming all known triggers of substance abuse — is the artful application of PARENTING

Prevention Made Simple

The best defense against substance abuse is the creation of an intrinsic belief system, starting around age 3. Once in place, this belief system will shield your child in a way that no lecture, no punishment and no incentive based technique ever could.

All kids are different, as are all parents, but there is one identical masterpiece that every family should seek to paint together before their child reaches the age of 15. The secret masterpiece is a child who truly believes that substance abuse is wrong, and “believes” that it is a threat to their future.

3 yrs belief

FOLLOW THESE TIPS

  • Be there for your teen when s/he needs to get out of a bad situation. Peer pressure is hard to deal with for every teen. You can help your teen deal with saying no to drugs to their peers by being the scapegoat: “I can’t do that, my parents would kill me!” Or be the parent who will pick up your teen without repercussions if s/he finds the party they’ve gone too has drugs available or their date has been drinking.
  • Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents on a first-name basis. Want to know what your teen is up to? Ask their friends. They may not share everything, or much of anything, but you will get a general idea if there are any risk-taking behaviors going on just by how the other teen acts. This is especially true when you get to know your teen’s friends. You will also have stronger support for keeping your teen from taking drugs if you know your teens friends’ parents well enough to use their first name. Building a relationship with them, casual is fine, will give you a leg up if you ever find your teen is doing drugs.
  • Keep connected in the after school hours. If you can’t be home with your teen, call and leave notes. Have another adult supervise your teen or sign them up for an after school program. If these things aren’t possible, establish a routine for your teenager and keep them busy during this time. After-school hours are the single most important time to know where your teens are and what they are doing, as statistics show 3 p.m. through 5 p.m. is a choice time for teens to use drugs. You can prevent your teen from doing drugs at this time through supervision.
  • Talk to your teen often about drugs. Use ice breakers from television shows or the radio in the car. Remember these are conversations, not lectures. And don’t be afraid to bring up the topic of drugs. Kids as young as preschool are taught about drug use in school in positives ways. Your teen knows all about them by the time they get to middle school or high school. When you open the topic of drugs up in conversation, you are letting your teen know that you are available if they need to talk, which is an excellent way to prevent your teen from taking drugs.
  • Get your teen involved in extra-curricular activities. Schools offer sports or clubs and community organizations offer classes and youth groups. These will help them mold their identity in a positive way and give them less time doing nothing and becoming bored. Studies have shown teens that have less time to just hang out and spend more time in organized activities are less likely to do drugs.
  • Ask questions when your teen makes plans to go out. Who will they be with, where are they going, what will they be doing, etc. Then check up on them. Call other parents and do this together. Teens who think they will get caught will be less likely to do drugs.
  • Be a role model. If you drink, drink responsibly – and don’t ever use illegal drugs. You may think that your kids don’t know that you are using, but they do or they will find out eventually. If you do take drugs, seek help and show your teen that you are taking responsibility for your actions.
  • Unite your family against drugs using strong family beliefs. Establish that your family doesn’t use drugs. Not that you will shun your child should they make a mistake, but that your family believes there are other healthier ways to enjoy life and fix problems rather than escaping into a drug haze.

drugs

Always Remember

An Ounce of Prevention

is Worth More than a Pound of Cure

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