Drug Abuse in Affluent Teens

Money can do very strange things to people. It can cause some to completely lose their sense of self, which in turn causes them to seek out a new sense of self. Often times with kids and teens that are raised in a wealthy environment this can be the case because they are looking for a sense of purpose. They struggle to make an identity for themselves, separate from their family name. Their parents are often high achievers, Unknown (1)choosing to work and earn rather than spend time with their families. Being a high achiever comes with high standards, standards that teenagers may often fail to meet. These expectations can be overwhelming for a child. Children in wealthy families also often have a lot more spare time on their hands than other children would. Often times they lack responsibilities such as chores and jobs, leaving them with unstructured and unfilled time. So what do these children and teens choose to fill their time with? Well they often have the means to participate in anything that they would like to, but there are some that will choose to do something extreme to make an identity of their own. This is where experimentation and the abuse of substances comes in.

Prescription medications, illicit substances, and alcohol are more readily available to more affluent teenagers. Whether they are purchasing from peers, or taking them from home, wealthier teenagers seem to have access to a wider variety of substances early on and the means to acquire anything they might have in mind. It is pretty much a given that there will be substances present at a high school party, and it should come as no images-3 (1)surprise that there is a large variety to choose from. More and more teenagers are choosing to experiment during parties with their friends, and it is a breeding ground for future addiction and substance abuse. Often trying these drugs once is more than enough to get hooked, and the consequences aren’t always the first thought with teens and peer pressure.

One question that often can come about is how is it possible for kids to get a hold of these substances? Often the home medicine cabinet is more than enough. Coupled with an accessible liquor cabinet, the home can be just as diverse in the types of things kids are trying to get their hands on. This begs the question, what can be done about preventing overdose and addiction?

Well the first step is education about the consequences of using drugs. Now this isn’t exclusive to educating about illicit substances like cocaine and heroin, but also the dangers of using alcohol, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications imagesas well as marijuana. Often times parents will use scare tactics in an attempt to discourage their children from using drugs, but this doesn’t work. Just the facts are often enough. This education needs to be paired with encouragement to make good choices and an understanding that there is an open line of communication at all times. Structure is also very important for teens. It is important that they learn responsibility and earning what they have. Teaching teenagers these values early on is a great way to set them up to be a contributing adult.  Having dinner as a family can be the most crucial time you have with your kids and teens in educating them, creating communication, spending time with them and bonding with them daily. images-1 (1)

Adolescence is a crucial period in a child’s life. Their bodies, minds, and spirits are changing at a rapid rate, and with these changes comes big responsibility. It is so important that children and teens are educated about drugs and alcohol in order to make informed decisions. Mistakes will be made, boundaries will be pushed, but the important things is that the teens stay safe, happy and healthy.

How Do You Spot A Controller?

Controllers often have a very deep seeded need to have everything exactly the way they expect, in order to feel safe, secure, and successful.  Needing to be in control of everything and everyone around us. While in some cases having iStock_000019982235XSmallcontrol is necessary, it is not always so. Most things in life require a power exchange, giving up some of yours in order to gain some of someone else’s. This exchange is essential to healthy relationships. The lack of this exchange causes dysfunction and can lead to resentment. But why is our need for control so deep seeded?

We want control out of fear. It could be a fear of what might happen if we don’t have control. It could be a fear that we will lose all control. Regardless of what the fear is, it drives us to find ways to gain the upper hand in situations that we can’t necessarily change. Anxiety also drives our need for control. This anxiety can be rooted in a fear that our needs will not be met completely by those we care about. We are driven by a fear of being hurt, rejected, humiliated, abandoned, or failure. As a result of this anxiety and fear, we become disappointed, frustrated, and even angry when things don’t go according to plan. Vulnerability and giving over control are uncomfortable for this reason.

There is also an aspect of denial in with certain people. Some people refuse to recognize that they are trying to manipulate and bend others and situations to work the way they want to. This causes conflict in relationships while others begin to recognize the manipulation. Sometimes denial is in the way of seeing shutterstock_83971024the need to control and an easy way to promise conflict in dysfunctional relationships.

There are just some times when we feel like we have lost all control. We may feel lost, or threatened. This can cause turmoil in our relationships and everyday life. We may lash out at those around us in an attempt to force them to give over their control. This makes the power exchange lose equilibrium, causing the other person to push back. Further conflict will just lead to further power struggle, in which no one will get what they need. We can meet our other needs without having complete and total control, but the problem most times is learning to accept that and not make the other person wrong. But how can we learn to accept that we cannot manage everything?

There is no easy answer or way to do so. We need to learn to recognize that it is impossible to control everything and everyone. The world is going to function around us as it will, and the only control we have is over ourselves. It is also important to recognize that in order to gain control, you need to give up some of your control. Relationships are a constant exchange of power, but that does not mean that one is weaker than the other.

Some people are what we call “Controllers”. Controllers try to dictate what you think, say, and feel all of the time. They are perfectionists more often than not, and will refuse to do anything that isn’t the way they would do it. They have an opinion about absolutely everything and will let you know what it is. Their comments border on irritating and abusive, making it hard to be around them. But in reality, many of us can attract a controller. Controllers are attracted to those who are the “victim” type; those with low self-esteem. Controllers find it easy to manipulate victims and have no trouble keeping them under their thumb. This is a very dysfunctional and toxic relationship combination. So what do you do if you are involved with a controller?

Well there are several approaches you can take, most of which won’t work. Going on the offensive is one way to push the buttons of a Controller, but trying to tell them what to do will not work. It is important to remain calm and confid  ent, and sticking to your guns. You can’t let a controller push you around, but you also have to learn to pick your battles. Sweating the small stuff just gives them more leverage in the long run, so standing your ground on the important issues should be priority.

shutterstock_50186851Having power can do a lot of great things as far as self-esteem and confidence are concerned, but too much is never a good thing. As with most things, control is good in moderation. It is important to keep in mind the equilibrium in relationships because they require a power exchange. Your needs can be met without having total control over every one, everything, and every situation. It is most important to remember to treat those we care about with love, respect, and humility.

The Codependent Relationship: Spouses

shutterstock_84732829 As I discussed in a previous blog, codependency is when both parties are dependent on one another in order for the relationship to function. Codependency can occur in any and all relationships, and it affects all relationships.

The codependency that occurs between spouses is unique because of the dynamic of the relationship. Because of the romantic aspect of this relationship, often times the spouse is controlled through affection and attention. This means that the addicted spouse will try and control the other using affection, sex, and giving them attention.

Codependency is dangerous in any loving relationship, but especially between spouses as physical/mental/emotional abuse is often involved. Abuse is used to control by shutterstock_121262254striking fear into the other person, causing them to behave in a way that will please the other to avoid the abusive behaviour.

Spouses engaging in codependent behaviour often times try to “cover” for the addicted spouse. They will lie to friends and family about their spouse’s behaviours. If the spouse holds a job, they will sometimes go as far as to call in sick for their spouse when they are too hung over or sick from withdrawal to go to work. People in this position will do anything and everything to make sure that their relationship will stay together.

In these relationships, no matter what lengths the addicted goes to (lying, stealing, cheating, abuse, etc.), their codependent will continue to allow them to be a part of the relationship and treat them in a way that is toxic. This can go on for many years, however, it is possible to recover from codependency. Toxic codependent relationships can be combated in several different ways, and listed below are just a few.

  • Remove yourself from the relationship

  • Seek counselling

  • Attend family/couples therapy during the addicted’s treatment

  • Make a safety plan if abuse is involved

  • Know what the signs are of codependent behaviour and recognize when it is affecting your life

Codependency is not something that will never stop. There is hope for recovery, but like recovering from an addiction, it takes a lot of hard work and it is a lifelong commitment. Take control, transform your behaviours, and learn to live a life you love.

ACOA: How Alcoholism Effects Your Children as Adults

Alcohol abuse in a family deeply effects how the children in the family will respond to alcohol. One path these effects could take is your children also abusing alcohol and other drugs. This is because it would become a learned and acceptable coping strategy for your children when faced with difficult situations. The other path that these effects could take is that your children would avoid use of alcohol all together. This avoidance can go as far as fear of becoming addicted themselves. It is important to be aware of the effects that your drinking has on your family members, especially your children. Children learn mainly through observation. If they see alcoholism, they are more likely to become alcoholics themselves. So what can you do to ensure that your children receive the treatment that they may also need?

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Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA) is a branch of Al-Anon (support group for family members of alcholics) that focuses specifically on the adult children of alcoholics. ACoA exists to help educate and heal; educate about alcoholism and heal the scars left by their parent’s substance abuse. ACoA is a peer based support group, aimed at helping recovery within the family.

ACoA gives these children the opportunity to focus on their own recovery, all while their family member works on their own recovery. Often times, individuals will reach out to ACoA before their parent has decided to seek help. This is because they feel the need to know more about alcoholism than their family member has told them. They want to see past the drinking, and the other behaviours, into the causes of the alcoholism. Sometimes they just want support in making decisions regarding their relationship with their alcoholic parent.

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Recovery is something that the entire family must go through. It is impossible for the addicted parent to have a successful recovery, if they are coming home to the same environment that they left. The children are responsible for learning what the triggers and warning signs are, to help their parent work through a relapse or help to prevent one from happening. Part of this recovery process is learning about codependency and what role they may have played in enabling the parent’s behaviours. It is also a time to reflect of manipulative behaviours that have been exhibited in the past. By doing so, they can learn a better way in which to handle these situations.

Alcoholism often has a greater effect than we sometimes realise. It is important that all parties are considered when dealing with the recovery process. Ensuring that all family members, including the adult children, have a place to seek support is very important. Without recovery within the family, true recovery may not be successful within the addict.

FASD: The Effects of Alcohol Use During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a stressful time for all those involved. Hormones, relationships, and preparing for baby put a strain on your body and mind. During and after pregnancy, taking care of your health is extremely important not only for you but for your child. That is why it is so important to abstain from use of drugs, which can do serious damage to you and your child.

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Alcohol is a highly dangerous substance to use during pregnancy. It can have serious effects on your baby’s development and well being after birth. There is no determined “safe amount” of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. It is important that you have the facts so you can make the best choices possible for you and your child.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (or FASD) is a term used to describe a range of disorders commonly found in children with mothers that used alcohol throughout their pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), describes developmental, physical, and behavioural problems in children due to alcohol use/abuse by the mother during pregnancy. FAS is diagnosed by a team of healthcare professionals as the effects of alcohol on the child’s development can extend to several aspects. Some characteristics of FAS include: below average birth weight and height, thin upper lip, and function/structure abnormalities in the brain.

The diagnosis of FAS can occur before the age of 6, however, most children are diagnosed after the age of 6. There are many things that you as a parent can do to help your child if he or she is diagnosed with FAS. Seeking the appropriate medical attention and support is key in making sure your child can thrive. Making sure that she/he has the appropriate supports in school, daycare, and other care providers is also essential.

There can be a lot of guilt and shame associated with using alcohol during your pregnancy. It is important to be honest with your healthcare provider about any and all drug use during pregnancy. This honest can open up doors to treatment and recovery, as well as help you get connected to the right supports during your pregnancy.shutterstock_84089224

Abstaining from alcohol use during pregnancy is the only way to directly prevent FAS from occurring. There are several ways that you can abstain from alcohol use. They include: having people that support a sober pregnancy, removing yourself from situations in which you feel you may want to use alcohol, as well as seeking counselling and other programs that will encourage you to stay sober during pregnancy. Developing a support network that you can rely on is important not only for mothers in recovery, but mothers in general. Ensuring that you are doing everything in your power to stay healthy for you and your baby is the first step in becoming a successful parent.