Posts

By Valorie Dassel, LCSW – January 7, 2020

Parenting in this era can be overwhelming. There are many opinions and parenting styles that can be argued. 

However, when we are facing drug and alcohol use among our teenagers, there must be an “all hands on deck” approach. It is a community issue that requires parents and adult mentors to communicate clearly with our teens while understanding both sides of the coin.

There are clearly reasons why our teens engage in risky behaviors, and it is important to acknowledge this while at the same time educating them on the severity of the risks. Visit websites such as drugfree.org and youthfirstinc.org to educate yourself on how to talk to your teen about drug and alcohol use. 

The following are some tips to guide substance use conversations with your teen:

  1. Ask your teen open-ended questions about the dangers of vaping, drinking and drug use. Use this conversation to guide discussion around the consequences about the things they care about in the “here and now.” Points to bring up include how substance use may affect their relationships and reputation. These are things they do not feel invincible about. They may do something that is embarrassing and have to deal with the social consequences at school on Monday morning. They may do something that they regret and consequently hurt a relationship or friendship. It is also helpful to aid in connecting their athletics and academics to substance abuse. If they are tired and hungover on the weekends, they will not feel like studying or practicing. 
  2. Be open with them about substance abuse issues in their family. According to the Genetics Science Learning Center of Utah, scientists estimate that a person’s genetics account for 40-60% of their risk of developing an addiction. Sharing family history and stories aids in the development of decision-making based on risks specific to them.
  3. In addition to genetics, individuals who suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc. are at a higher risk to abuse substances. The website dualdiagnosis.com is a good resource to help teens connect their emotional struggles to how they may self medicate with substance use.
  4. Clearly share your expectations and the consequences they will receive at home if they are found to be drinking, vaping, smoking or using drugs. It is important to create a relationship that allows the teen to share their struggles or experiences while also being aware of the consequences if caught using. 

Get to know the parents of your teen’s friends. Share with them your values and that you do not approve of them drinking, smoking/vaping or using drugs. There are parents who mistakenly feel they are protecting teens by allowing them to drink or use substances under their supervision, as they feel it is a safer alternative.

Developmentally, teens are beginning to individuate from their parents, which gives them the sense that they can make their own decisions and act independently. Educate yourself and others that this concept inadvertently gives them permission to drink/vape/drug on their own.

Remember that we as parents can educate and guide, but our teens will be the ones who make the decisions. It is our responsibility to keep them as safe and as educated as possible.  Most importantly, be there when they fall and help them back up.

addiction-recovery

By Teresa Mercer, Courier & Press, Feb. 2, 2016 –

If you are a parent, grandparent or guardian, you know that raising a child can bring challenges, struggles and fear of the unknown.

There will also be good times, however. Children of any age can bring many happy and proud moments. Many will reach milestones such as completing kindergarten, finishing junior high and graduating from high school. Attending dances or proms, getting a driver’s license, entering the workforce and going off to college will be other new experiences for many.

There are many things for a parent to worry about. You may wonder how your child will perform in school, whether they will struggle socially, if they will experiment with drugs or alcohol or if they will experience issues such as depression, anxiety, etc.

Today’s world has changed. Social media, the Internet, movies, games and music create opportunities and the need for immediate gratification among our youth. They are exposed to and familiar with drugs and alcohol like never before.

As a school social worker, many times I have listened to parents say, “I raised and taught my child well. I only hope they take these things with them.”

All parents want the best for their children. They try to provide love, guidance, nurturing, morals, beliefs and values. But still many young people will make the decision to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and there will be some who are on the road to addiction.

Addiction within a family is a challenge, especially for the parent. Many times they will blame themselves. The “what if’s,” “should haves” and “could haves” can really take a toll, but no parent wants to give up on their child.

Leah Davis, M.Ed., outlines some ways to help prevent your child from becoming involved in drugs and alcohol:

1. Don’t give in to their demands. Just because they want something doesn’t mean you should get it every time. Don’t give in to their tantrums.

2. Don’t always rescue them from the consequences of their negative behavior. Don’t allow them to make excuses or blame others for their poor decisions or choices.

3. Don’t model poor principles such as lying and cheating.

4. Show affection to your child. Kids of all ages need hugs and time together. Don’t you? They also need to know it is ok to express their feelings. Let them build self-esteem by experiencing interaction with others through sports, clubs, etc.

5. Don’t focus on the negatives or weaknesses of their personality or habits. Praise them as much as you can. Take an interest in their ideas and accomplishments.

6. Rather than passing judgment, show them forgiveness, understanding, patience and love when they make poor choices or decisions. Let them know you make mistakes too. Turn a mistake into a learning opportunity.

7. Don’t demand perfection, but don’t be afraid to set rules and expectations. Let them know their ideas and questions are respected by giving them the opportunity to talk while you listen. Acknowledge their need for independence, but let them know you have to set rules.

8. Don’t be unpredictable. Have consistent routines in the home such as eating dinner together. Be consistent with your reactions to behaviors. If it’s not OK today, it’s not OK tomorrow.

9. Don’t be uninformed about drug and alcohol use. Discuss your attitudes and beliefs.

10. Don’t ignore your own value as a human being. It’s important for you to model good behaviors and healthy ways to cope and communicate. Avoid resentments and negativity that can lead to self-destructive behavior.

Remember, it’s never too late to intervene with someone struggling with an addiction. Seek professional help or reach out to your child’s Youth First school social worker. But it’s equally important to be proactive with behaviors, ideas and actions that can start at home.