How to Help Our Children Avoid Substance Use

Parents are the biggest influence in a child’s life. They can pass on experiential knowledge in all areas of life to their children. When it comes to substance use, parents are also shouldered with the responsibility of education and prevention. The challenge often comes with how to go about doing it.

Keeping Lines of Communication Open in the Home

Before parents begin addressing more challenging topics, such as sexual behavior and substance use, there needs to be open communication in the home environment. A parent cannot expect their children to listen deeply after they have been absent themselves. You need to invest time in this two-way communication, starting when your child is young.

There can be frequent teachable moments and touchpoints when you are carefully observing their emotional development. Organic conversations may evolve naturally as your child gets older. Even with young children, it is important to offer information about the importance of healthy nutrition, sleep rhythm, and regular exercise.

If your child is curious about medicine bottles they see in the home, explain that a child can only take medicine if a parent or a doctor gives it. Help them understand that taking the wrong medicine can be dangerous to one’s health.

Prevention Communication With Older Children

With grade-level children who watch television and movies, parents should monitor what they watch to ensure it is age-appropriate as some content might contain substance use scenes. If the question or issue comes up, it is time to discuss the long-term negative consequences of drinking alcohol or using drugs. Guide them to make a distinction between short-term pleasure and long-term risks.

When your child is starting middle school, that is a time your influence as a parent will decrease. They will face more peer pressure at school, and some children may be exposed to substances offered by friends. Ask about whether they have seen other children vaping, smoking, drinking, or using drugs. Do not accuse or interrogate, but listen and communicate. Have an open discussion.

Introduce the brain science facts about how substance addiction can lead to brain disease. Most importantly, model sobriety and a healthy lifestyle to your children.

Getting to Know Your Child’s Friends

It takes a village to raise a healthy child. At this point, you should merge more into your child’s social world. Spend time getting to know your child’s friends and their parents when they spend time together. Set boundaries on what your child can do and cannot do with friends. Maybe communicate with other parents about the concern if this issue arises in the community.

As your teenage child grows up and enters high school, there will be more challenging issues related to risky sexual behavior and substance use. Share how your high school years went and what challenges you struggled with.

Ensure your child that you will always be there to support them no matter what happens. Trusting your child is an essential aspect of their confidence and decision-making. This is the time for them to face the world and prepare for independence.

Many parents panic when their children begin hanging out with other teens they don’t know. If you keep the lines of communication open, your child will trust you with their problems.

Prevention Starts With Parents

Ideally, parents should model a healthy lifestyle to their children. They should also be educated on scientific facts about substance use before trying to discuss it with their children. If there is one parent in the home who has a history of substance use, such as alcoholism or drug abuse, this parent in recovery needs to have an honest discussion with the child about their own addiction history.

In order to be a role model for your child, you must become sober first. Children do notice how their parents use substances and socialize. As a parent, your emotional and mental health also shapes whether a child feels safe and confident. If parenting gets challenging, maybe you should consider family-based therapy where an experienced counselor can guide every family member to identify emotional and behavioral patterns that need improvement.

Family-based prevention programs aim at enhancing family bonding and parental skills. Research has shown that even brief sessions of family-focused interventions can positively change specific parenting behaviors to reduce later risks of substance use.

All in all, parents and families need to stay connected with a strong support system, especially from the addiction recovery community. Substance addiction is treatable, and children of all ages must understand that. Parents should do their best and keep their hopes up.

If you are a parent in recovery, do you know how to educate your child about the negative effects of substance use? Education is important for preventing child or teen addiction, which is a rising epidemic in America. As a parent, you also need to model a healthy and sober lifestyle in the home. If you are looking for recovery specialists who can coach you on parenting and prevention, come and visit us at Capo Canyon Recovery, near Mission Viejo, CA. We have helped many families by using our holistic approach. We focus on each stage of recovery, both in terms of physical and mental health. You or your loved ones can make use of both our inpatient residential care and outpatient, long-term care programs that offer personalized benefits. Our experienced counselors and therapists can coach you on a wide range of issues related to prevention. Work with us now. Call us at (800) 804-8714.


Substance Use Affects Us All

In 2021, the United States saw more than 100,000 overdose deaths, an increase of 28.5% from the year before. On the one hand, the substance addiction epidemic has impacted tens of thousands of American families. On the other hand, many people still attribute substance use to moral weakness and flawed character, a narrative blaming people with addiction for their disease.

Such continued stigmatization does not help curb this public health crisis but is likely to exacerbate it by creating barriers to treatment. Alleviating stigma means that more people are educated with knowledge about addiction and have compassion for those affected. Substance use affects us all, and we have an active role to play to educate and support our community.

Substance Addiction Is a Chronic Brain Disease

Drugs and alcohol are hard to quit because they have a gripping effect on the brain. Typically, the brain sends, receives, and processes information while activating the pleasure center to produce a “feel good” sensation when we engage in activities that have positive psychological effects. Eating healthy, hanging out with supportive friends, exercising, and spending time with loved ones can impact the brain’s pleasure center.

Addictive substances work similarly. They can release multiple times the amount of the brain’s usual pleasure chemical (also known as dopamine). Injected substances can exert pleasurable sensations immediately. This reward to the brain’s chemical pathways is so powerful that it often encourages users to repeat the experience. Gradually, infrequent substance use evolves into dependence and eventually addiction.

It is a widely shared understanding in the addiction recovery community that substance addiction is a chronic brain disease. Once an addiction to a certain substance takes hold, it becomes the dominating priority in a person’s life. This individual may invest more time and energy acquiring and using substances. The addictive patterns can become more and more difficult to break. Even when they want to quit, there are often severe withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction Controls Your Life and Disrupts Family Relationships

Many people buy into the myth that they have the freedom to choose when to quit substance use. But, the fact is, most long-term substance users lose control of their independent, sober life. While investing time and money into acquiring drugs or alcohol, they use less time for activities and hobbies that used to bring them pleasure. Some people lie to family and friends in order to get money and buy more drugs. Deception and lies almost always accompany long-term substance addiction.

Because addiction impacts one’s behavior negatively by causing fatigue, weight loss, and neglected appearances and compulsion, people with addiction may self-isolate. Many also struggle with keeping a regular routine of work and sleep. These all take a toll on their work or life in general. Professionals who are on addictive substances may perform poorly on their jobs. Teenagers may miss school entirely or run away from concerned family members.

Substance addiction also creates disturbances in the family because it leads to parental neglect, domestic violence, or abuse. Children who live with long-term substance-using parents are at higher risk of developing mental health issues or even substance use themselves in the future. Marriages may fall apart when one spouse becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. Teen addiction also disrupts family life by a host of risky behavior.

Substance Addiction Treatable

After discussing all the above negative impacts of substance addiction, it is essential to emphasize that addiction is still a treatable disease, regardless of whether the condition is mild, moderate, or severe. The first step, however, is recognition of the problem. Ignoring or denying it can delay early opportunities for intervention.

At the beginning of an intervention, a medical professional will conduct a formal assessment of symptoms to identify if there is a substance use disorder (SUD). When designing a treatment plan, health professionals will consider a wide range of issues, including family history, trauma, and co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions. Because addiction impacts the body and the mind, it takes a holistic and comprehensive approach to make sure that recovery can progress sustainably.

Key Principles of Addiction Treatment

Recovery specialists have found some fundamental principles to guide the successful treatment of substance addiction. A recovering individual and concerned family members need to understand that addiction is a complex but treatable brain disease. Because everyone is unique in his or her condition, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. It takes time for health professionals and recovering individuals to work collaboratively towards a customized plan.

Generally speaking, people with long-term or severe substance addiction need to remain in treatment for a period of time. This allows for medically monitored detoxification and rebuilding of healthy routines. Medications are often used in combination with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Lastly, recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Because many recovering individuals also have co-occurring mental health issues, addressing all these needs can better prevent future relapses.

Do you know someone among friends and family who is struggling with substance addiction? Although addiction is so prevalent today, many people still hold prejudice against those who suffer from this health condition. Our society at large still needs to understand that addiction is a complex but treatable brain disease. From a recovery point of view, because everyone is unique in his or her condition, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. It takes time for health professionals and recovering individuals to work collaboratively toward a customized plan. At Capo Canyon Recovery near Mission Viejo, CA, we have experience helping individuals and families heal from the impact of addiction. You can benefit from both our inpatient, residential care and outpatient, long-term care programs. With an in-house chef, luxurious beds, and an onsite organic garden, we’re here to help your body, mind, and spirit recover. Do not delay treatment. Reach out now. Call us at (800) 804-8714 today.