What Can Families Do to Prevent Addiction?

Parents and families are the first line of defense against young people using drugs and alcohol. However, parents don’t usually know much about the subject, and it’s possible they won’t feel well-equipped to discuss the matter with their kids.

But parents must talk to their kids about drugs and alcohol, the risks and dangers of substance abuse, and the sheer harm that can come from using drugs. Thankfully, there are some simple tips and strategies that parents can implement to help prevent their children from ever experimenting with drugs.

families prevent addiction

Prevention Starts When You Start Talking and Listening

As children grow, it is critical that parents keep the lines of communication open. Let your child know that they can feel comfortable talking with you about anything they hear or see that concerns them. In addition to speaking honestly with your child about healthy choices and the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol on their brains and bodies, it is important to listen to your child when they need someone to talk to.

  • Talk honestly with your child about healthy choices and risky behaviors. Listen to what your child has to say. Make talking and listening to a habit, the earlier the better!
  • Learn the facts about the harmful effects of drugs.
  • Talk with your child about the negative effects alcohol and drugs would have on their brains and bodies and their ability to learn or play sports. Ask your pediatrician about the other dangers of drug use.
  • As part of your regular safety conversations, talk about avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.
  •  Be clear and consistent about family rules.
    • It does not matter what other families decide; your family rules show your family values.
  • Correct any wrong beliefs your child may have.
    • “Everybody drinks.”
    • “Marijuana won’t hurt you.”
  • Avoid TV programs, movies, and video games that glamorize tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. There is a lot of inappropriate content that children will become exposed to that is almost impossible to avoid. How you take the opportunity to discuss these messages that will affect how children perceive and react to them. Since it’s hard to escape the messages found in music and advertising, discuss with your child the influence these messages have on us.
  • Find time to do things together as a family. Eating together as a family is a good time to talk and learn about what’s going on. 

Support Healthy Activities 

Two of the key factors that reduce the risk of kids developing addictions are “healthy attachment” and “prosocial engagement,” which are fancy words for feeling like you belong and are engaged in positive activities. Whether it’s sports, church, Future Farmers of America, 4-H, music, drama, volunteering, or surfing, kids do better when they are kept busy and feel part of a healthy community. It turns out those extracurriculars are less about résumé-building and more about building protective factors to keep them safe!

Discuss the Consequences – Look at the Long-Term Harm of Drug Use

Talking about the consequences of what might happen should they experiment with drugs is critical to getting your children to say no to drugs. Explain to them the physical and legal implications of using drugs. Make it clear to your children that you don’t want them using drugs, and that there will be consequences if they do.

Talk about why using drugs is not okay. Talk about how it’s against the law, and discuss how drug use hurts more than just the person using drugs. Use examples like car accidents, families ruined by drug use, the transmission of HIV/AIDS due to needle sharing, impaired coordination and slowed growth, poor decision making, etc.

Most importantly, young people need to understand that drug use ruins lives. Whether those lives are ruined by overdose, disease, the loss of a career, an accident, incarceration, or other crises, drug use always ends badly.

Ignoring Warning Signs Enables Further Use

If your son or daughter has already fallen prey to drug and alcohol use, you must help them seek treatment at a qualified drug and alcohol rehab center. Once someone is addicted to drugs, they can’t cease using drugs without professional help. And the longer someone uses drugs, the more likely they are to suffer severe consequences from such use.

Drug addiction is a horrible, debilitating crisis. But it can be overcome. If someone you care about is using drugs and alcohol, make sure they get help.

Get Educated on Options

If addiction treatment is needed, parents should know their options and ask questions:

  • Is the program accredited or licensed? National accreditation programs (such as the Joint Commission or the National Committee for Quality Assurance) look for elements of treatment that research has shown to be effective.
  • Are staff members licensed or credentialed? Credentials held by addiction professionals include LADC (licensed alcohol and drug counselor), LPC (licensed professional counselor), CAC (certified addiction counselor), and CCDP (certified co-occurring disorders professional).
  • Does the program use evidence-based practices? A treatment center should be measuring how effective its services are as well as using research-based methods.
  • Is gender-specific programming offered? Research shows males and females recover from addiction differently and have the best opportunity for recovery when separated by gender.
  • Are detoxification services offered? Comprehensive, medically supervised detoxification ensures that your child is medically stabilized before beginning the treatment process.
  • Is programming individualized? Each person’s needs are unique and require an individualized treatment plan based on specific history, issues, and needs.
  • Are treatment services holistic? Effective programs address mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Families and Addiction 

Seeking treatment for addiction is the first empowering step to your new sober lifestyle. While some may assume that there’s no need for addiction and family to go together, the opposite is actually true. Family support is critical to achieving recovery from a substance use disorder. 

Studies show that when multiple family members participate in their loved one’s recovery process, it increases their chance of long-term recovery exponentially. But, we also know that sometimes, the best of intentions can go a bit astray. That is why Little Creek Recovery offers programming intended to help families relearn how to work with each other.

The Little Creek Family Program

The Little Creek family program is held on the first Sunday of every month at 10:00 a.m. via Zoom. The family program is conducted by Little Creek’s Clinical Team, along with a monthly rotation of guest speakers. Our educational program challenges parents to learn a new way to love. 

Family members of our Little Creek patients that attend the family program will also learn about codependency, boundaries, and direct communication. One of the most important things that we teach family members of recovering addicts is how to be on the same page with each other in matters regarding the recovery process.

We also provide weekly progess updates to family members involved in the treatment process and like to have at least two family therapy sessions per month. Each client’s treatment experience is unique. We strive to meet the individualized needs of our client’s families.

Little Creek residents should become more transparent with each passing month. They should also become more vulnerable (not defensive or secretive) and trusting in the recovery process. The treatment process requires taking healthy risks. which often are a catalyst to growth.

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