It's a universal dread - all parents experience cascades of anxiety regarding substance use talk. As unenjoyable as it may be, ignoring the impending danger will not make it vanish into thin air. As parents, we are responsible for overcoming our fear hurdles (and awkwardness) and providing that safe space for open dialogue. The truth is, we're never truly prepared, and it's never the right time. Avoiding the conversation will only prolong the smoldering agony; convincing ourselves that our children would never (!) indulge in such autodestructive behavior will not do us favors, either. So, why wait? Peer pressure is a relentless mechanism, assuming is a nemesis. The most effective (and unobtrusive) preventive measure we can implement is surprisingly undemanding - an ongoing open discussion. These are our tips for talking to your kids about substance use. Let's talk.
The power of language is irrefutably superior to all other forms of communication. We can't hug a profound conversation out and hope for the best subliminal message outcome. We're not mind whisperers. Talking about substance use should start early in their lives, but we need to tread the vocabulary path wisely. A child's brain is a thing of wonder; it's ever-evolving. In order to get the message across in a successful manner, we need to make sure they can relate to what we're saying. So, keep it age-appropriate. Divorce and financial strains are common triggers for developing anxiety in the early stages of development, which could later induce substance abuse problems.
2. Ask questions
Although we may be tempted to perceive our kids as innocent, information-free vessels of our personal joy and (perpetual) worry, they are, in fact, the Earth's leading sponges in absorbing and storing valuable (and random) information. They just know things. More importantly, they're much more educated than we could ever, ever fathom. We were all young once; a young brain is a vast brain. By the age of 16, they are equipped with everything from future-budget concepts to drug buffets. So, ask them questions. How familiar are they with substances? Have they read about it online? Are their school friends familiar with the topic? What are their thoughts? Engage in a meaningful, open conversation.
3. Adjust your approach
Accusation will get you nowhere. The last thing we want is for our children to experience fear and anxiety around opening up. Vulnerability is key to a successful conversation. The tone of your voice is crucial here. Instead of inviting fear, judgment, and hatred, we should try approaching the subject with curiosity and understanding. Introduce the "experimenting phase" term and see if they respond to it and in what manner. Experimenting is an everyday occurrence; it's an empirical given. If you cannot tell whether they have encountered drugs or alcohol before, don't be afraid to ask them. Have an open discussion, explain the "experimenting" rules, and draw the line.
4. Be assertive
One of the most important tips for talking to your kids about substance use: Where you stand as a parent on substance use should be crystal clear from the get-go. It's a NO. Refraining from having "the talk" is also sending a message that could be interpreted as: "I guess it's okay if I give it a try." Kids need guidance. They need to hear a decisive "NO." Now, as parents, our duty is to find that golden ratio in order to get the message across without generating negative emotion. Assertiveness is, by no means, a form of aggression. Coming off as militant, tyrannical and unforgiving will not lead to them accepting the concept of prohibition. Try setting clear but fair boundaries. Moving long-distance proved to be one of the most common triggers in teenagers, as their anxiety levels peak in uncertainty. Before that fresh start, be sure to discuss this with them. It will make everything go smoother.
5. The consequence talk
The concept of lasting substance use impact is elusive when explaining it to kids. They don't understand long term. Instead of trying to scare them with ungraspable consequences somewhere down the road ("If you become a drug addict, it will - XXX"), try laying out the immediate effects list. If you're discussing cigarettes, go straight for the Achilles heel - aesthetics. Bad breath, yellow teeth, poor skin, overall loss of attractiveness. Drunk driving = goodbye, driver's license! + possible death- insert casually. (if not paralysis or immediate death, the driver's license scenario will, 100%, make them think, HARD)
6. If it already happened
If your child has experimented with substance use, pinpointing the root cause is crucial. Peer pressure, school/social status, family trouble, and other stress-inducing factors can greatly impact teenagers, further leading to clouded judgment and bad decision-making. We never indulge in autodestructive behavior out of sheer boredom; there's always a culprit. Finding out what caused the initial use can prevent "the experiment" from developing into a serious addiction problem. Explain addiction and relapse as honestly and thoroughly as you possibly can. Make sure they understand how difficult it is to lose the habit and how detrimental it can be to their mental and physical health. If you're worried about your child's possible addiction, experts from helixmove.com advise moving to a new area.
7. Seek professional help
Financial strains often bring family disruption, but they may also serve as a trigger in adolescent substance use. Experimenting with drugs or alcohol can be a sign of a developing habit. Seeking professional help in the early stages is key. A regular psychologist should be able to provide you with all the vital information, as well as refer you to a substance abuse counseling center. Intervention in the early stages is of utmost importance, as it will provide healthy coping mechanisms and tools for preventing potential addiction. If your child is struggling, be sure to stay as supportive and loving as possible throughout the process.
The last of our tips for talking to your kids about substance use: lead by example. Our children absorb and mimic our behavior. If you're smoking, consuming alcohol, or taking prescription drugs, you're not helping. Mixed signals never get the message across. Be consistent. Be their rock.
As you probably know by now, dealing with addiction is rough. And while acknowledging that you have a problem and seeking help is hard, what comes after is even harder. Since you’re surrounded by temptation and triggers, staying clean is a life-long battle. But it’s worth it! Once you’re in recovery, you can start getting your life back on track. And it’s never too late to do that. However, despite all the benefits of recovery, you need a lot of determination to succeed. Even if your brain is telling you that this is good for you, there will be times when you’ll want to quit. So, here are 8 tips for staying motivated in recovery.
No. 1 One of the top 8 tips for staying motivated in recovery is setting achievable goals
After completing your addiction treatment, you might feel that the hard part is over. And this will make you think that you can achieve anything you want now. However, you will easily get discouraged if you set goals that are impossible to achieve. Take it slow, one day at a time, and manage your expectations. You can’t expect to regain everything you lost overnight. For example, if your goal is to get your career back, don’t expect to become a CEO in one month. Start small with a low-level position that you can manage while focusing on your recovery.
No. 2 Stay positive
Having a positive mindset is one of the top 8 tips for staying motivated in recovery. So, drop the toxic thoughts and think positively. Of course, this is easier said than done. While in recovery, you might struggle with negative thoughts brought on by regret, guilt, and loss. But instead, you should focus on improving your life and finding happiness once more.
No. 3 Stay healthy
Since any type of addiction will harm your health, it’s time to improve things in that department. Learn to take care of yourself. Star by making time to eat well and exercise. This will improve not only your health but also your mindset. And you should know that maintaining good mental health is just as important as maintaining good physical health. So, make sure you focus on both.
Now, when it comes to your mental health, it’s not as easy as choosing to eat vegetables instead of junk food. For example, stress represents a major concern for people in recovery. It might even be what led them to substance abuse in the first place. Of course, you can’t avoid stressful situations, but you can learn to deal with anxiety. For instance, if you have to move house, seek help from your friends and professional movers. That way, you can focus on managing the stress of moving house.
No. 4 Stay organized
Keeping busy is a great tip for staying motivated in recovery. The main reason for this is that when you have too much free time, your mind tends to wander off. You’ll start thinking about all your troubles and about using again. So, set up a schedule and stick to it. This will also help you stay on top of your daily tasks and responsibilities. And don’t forget to include your new healthy habits in there as well.
No. 5 Learn to manage your addiction triggers
A major concern when in recovery is dealing with addiction triggers. These triggers can be physical, like seeing the object of your addiction. But most often than not, they are emotional. Because, let’s face it, people usually turn to substance abuse when going through a rough patch. Therefore, you have to find ways to cope with these triggers. And a good tip is to find new activities that you enjoy. For example, the advisors from Mod Movers CA recommend exploring the city you live in to discover what it has to offer. For example, you might enjoy going to the theatre or the cinema or taking cooking lessons.
No. 6 Rely on your support system
Whenever times get tough, you should have a good support system to rely on. And close family members and friends are at the top of the list. After all, the people who stuck by you even after you hit rock bottom are the ones that truly love you. And you have to do everything in your power to nurture those relationships.
But even though your close friends and family will always be there for you, they might not understand what you’re going through. That’s why support groups should also be a part of your support system. Here, you’ll meet people who have faced similar situations and struggles as you. Therefore, they can provide you with valuable insight and advice on how to stay motivated in recovery.
No. 7 Seek professional help
As previously mentioned, recovery is a life-long battle. Therefore, there may be times when you’ll need a bit more help to stay on track. And when you find yourself in these situations, it’s best to seek professional help. For example, a therapist who specializes in addiction can help you see things from a different perspective and teach you some new coping strategies.
No. 8 Remind yourself why it’s worth it
Whenever you feel down, and you think about giving up, remind yourself why you started. Remember all those people that you hurt and all the things you’ve lost while using. Then, think about all the things you can achieve now that you’re clean. Of course, it will take time, and you have to be patient, but good times will come.
Unfortunately, many people struggle with addiction and recovery. So, don’t worry, you’re not alone in it. But choosing to get clean is the best decision you’ll ever make. Therefore, once you complete your addiction treatment, you should do whatever it takes not to fall off the wagon. Yes, there will be times when you’ll feel like giving up, but try to overcome those moments. Use these 8 tips for staying motivated in recovery and get your life back on track.
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