Archive for February, 2014

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

February 28, 2014

Childhood can and should be a time of wonder and discovery, when parents nurture, protect and care for the precious gifts of life they have brought into the world. But for children of alcoholic parents, life often is filled with shame, suffering, and fear. These children may find themselves trapped by the same disease that affected their parents and grandparents, unless there is outside intervention from caring adults in their lives.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, children of alcohol-addicted parents can suffer from physical illness and injury, emotional disturbances, educational deficits, and behavior problems. Perhaps most troubling, however, is the fact that children of alcoholics (COAs) are two to four times more likely to become problem drinkers and continue the addictive practices of their parents, with similar devastating consequences.

SAMHSA urges every adult to learn about the needs of COAs and the simple actions they can take to help COAs develop into healthy adults. We know that COAs are at greater risk for substance abuse problems in their own lives. But we also know what to do to help them avoid repeating their families’ problems. We can break the generational cycle of alcoholism in families.

That’s good news for the millions of children in the United States who live in households in which one or both parents have been actively alcohol dependent in the past. Experts say COAs can be helped, whether or not the alcohol-abusing adults in their families receive treatment. Adult relatives, older siblings, and other adults who have contact with COAs at school, in the community, through faith-based organizations, and through health and social services agencies do not need formal training or special skills to be caring and supportive.

The help a child of an alcoholic, one must take that first step – by showing you care. Since research shows that one in four children lives in a family with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, many adults will not have to look far to find a child to help.

Almost every community has resources to help make a difference in the lives of COAs. Services such as educational support groups and counseling are widespread. A free publication, It’s Not Your Fault is available from SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, offers important insights and resources for adults who want to help. For more information, call 1-800-729-6686 or http://store.samhsa.gov/product/It-s-Not-Your-Fault-NACoA-/MS732.

 

Mood Lifters

February 7, 2014

Not feeling your usual positive self? Try these pick-me-ups.

Re-wire what you say and think. Instead of saying things like, “This day it shot” or “I’m not good at this,” or thinking things like, “This is really a downer” or “I feel terrible,” make a conscious effort to talk and think positively. I can get over this. I can do this, and I feel great. Things are going to work out just fine. It’s amazing how just a few words can make such a big difference.

Play your winners. Winners are things that almost always make you feel good or lift your spirits. At work, keep a photo from a recent vacation or of the car you’re rebuilding or display a craft project or one of your child’s drawings. Other winners include a favorite book or video that always makes you laugh.

Help others. To help someone else is probably the last thing on our minds when we feel we need help ourselves. But reaching out to someone in need has so many positive emotional benefits. The good feeling that comes from volunteering at a soup kitchen, youth clinic, shelter or other venue can naturally lift sagging spirits.

Step into the light. More people seek help for depression in the winter than in the summer. Many researches believe it’s because there are fewer daylight hours in the winter. The condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Look for ways to work sunlight into your day just as you would exercise or any other healthy behavior.

Exercise. Exercise releases a chemical in the brain that naturally elevates mood. Athletes sometimes refer to this effect as a “physical high.” Take a brisk walk, shoot some baskets or whatever else you enjoy that your doctor recommends as appropriate for your state of health.

Stay away from alcohol or other drugs. Relying on chemicals to feel better is a common practice. But it doesn’t work. Alcohol or other drugs only cover up painful feelings that may need to be addressed before lasting, positive change can take place.

Ask for help. It isn’t always possible to easily rebound from an emotional down like a relationship breakup or job change. In such cases, try what hundreds of thousands of people do each year – reach out for help.