Aaron’s Apple

lovehopefaith A child in pain is something that no one ever wants to witness. Parents of children living with chronic illness watch their children struggle with some of the simplest things. Chronic illness shouldn’t take away a child’s opportunity to be a child. The foundation Aaron’s Apple helps to ensure just that.

Aaron’s Apple is an organization that helps families with chronically ill children. Their mission is to provide direct funding for medications and treatments that some families cannot afford for their children. They strive to make sure that children do not have to suffer with the pain that can come from chronic illness.

Aaron’s Apple is hosting a charity event on March 6th, 2014. This event is a night of education and inspiration to those living with chronic illness, IBD and other autoimmune diseases. I am absolutely honoured to be speaking at this event.

My topic is “Living with a chronic illness is not a life sentence”. There are so many ways in which chronic illness can be better understood and conquered. Simple things like encouraging strength, hope, being supportive, and having faith can completely change the outlook of those suffering. Reaching out is one of the most important things that you can do for those living with a chronic illness. Being that shoulder to rest on, that uplifting kind word at the end of a rough day, can mean the world to someone in pain.

Transform. Motivate. Awaken. Change your outlook, and watch those around you change theirs.

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.

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.