Family & Parenting
Teenagers with a parent or parent-like authority figure who uses marijuana have increased chances of both using marijuana and drinking heavily, a new study from the RAND Corporation has found.
By Heather Rolland, LCSW
Can you imagine applying to become a parent as if it were a competitive job? Imagine the job description: physical care, emotional care, financial support … and then all the potential contingencies. Navigating the first 18 or so years is hard enough, but for some parents, the next few steps—the letting go and releasing your child, now a young adult, into the world—may be the hardest. For a parent who has been through the wrenching process of helping a child identify and treat an addiction and enter recovery, this next step may feel like the hardest one of all.
In the U.S. and throughout much of the world, significant numbers of both married and unmarried people consume alcohol regularly. Most of these individuals drink in light or moderate amounts that don’t generally lead to problems; however, some individuals increase their risks for a range of problems by drinking heavily. In a study published in July 2014 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham assessed the level of impact that a husband or wife has on his or her spouse’s habitual level of alcohol intake.
The diagnosis of a mental illness in a teenager is often the result of a long process. As a family, you may have endured school meetings, testing by the school psychologist, appointments with your family doctor, referrals to a specialist, and then multiple visits with a therapist before actually seeing a doctor. Phone calls to an insurance company, notes home from teachers, and perhaps even suspensions for behavioral issues may have prefaced the diagnosis. As a parent, as difficult and upsetting as hearing the diagnosis may be, relief and a sense of handling things often accompany the label. With a label can come a plan.
When we think of teens, drugs, and pressure, the word “peer” tends to add itself to the list. Peer pressure can determine the clothes teens wear (or covet), where they go in their free time, and what they do there. Peer pressure, along with curiosity and other influences, contributes to first drug use-alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana (in that order)-most often occurring at ages 12 to 14. This stage is also identified as the prime years for peer pressure susceptibility.
Peer pressure also works in the opposite direction. About half of teens have no friends who are regular drinkers, and about seven out of ten don’t have smokers or “druggies” in their circles. Recent data shows those ever-variable numbers rising-in the case of cigarettes, a dramatic rise. Even when friend choice is not deliberately based on those criteria, such social dynamics tend to reinforce themselves. It’s one of many good reasons for parents to know their children’s friends.
While likelihood of drug use increases through the teen years, along with the likelihood of knowing drug users, those choices are less likely to be based on peer pressure as older teens grow into more self-assurance and self-directedness.
Almost everyone has a friend or relative suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs. Because of the nature of addiction, those suffering from it can often lie, cheat, and steal to cover their tracks. This makes living, working, or dealing with them highly problematic. Even people with otherwise rock-solid boundaries can find alcoholics and addicts easily pushing their buttons.
As human beings we experience a wealth of emotions from love and hate to despair and elation. It is one of the many things that make us human. Of course, while some emotions are great and wonderful and embraced, others are no fun at all. One of the most frustrating emotions we all have to deal with at times is frustration itself. No one likes to feel this way. It comes upon us when things just aren’t going our way. For the addict trying to come clean and for the loved ones waiting for the addict’s behaviors to finally change, frustration can be a daily burden.
The consequences of addiction far exceed the emotional and physical effects for the user. People suffering from addiction may continue to make choices that separate them from friends and family and other social relationships. Extreme mood swings and irritability can also destroy lives; the addict may also take advantage of friends and family to try to feed their addiction. Forgiving an addict, though difficult, may be necessary for a loved one to improve their health and maintain positive levels of self-esteem.
When you are a child, you look up to your parents. They are supposed to be there to protect you, to keep you from harm, to look out for you at all times. But when one of your parents, let’s say your Daddy, drinks alcohol, sometimes things just don’t go right at all at home. The more your Daddy drinks, the worse it can get. You feel lost, confused, and alone and you don’t know what to do. First of all, you need help. And there is help available.
Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) has been linked to a wide array of developmental deficits, including significant impairments in social skills. An examination of a social- skills intervention called Children’s Friendship Training found that it led to a decrease in hostile attributions or perceptions of children with PAE. Results will be published in the February 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
He was angry – angry enough to share his story with a stranger, and angry enough to talk about the effects of alcohol on his life in a half hour monologue. His ex-wife was alcoholic, and according to him, probably did drugs also. He kicked her out of the house, then divorced her, and became an overworked single dad to a four year old and a five year. He described his day, which began with night-shift work: pick the kids up from school and daycare, fix them a meal and do laundry and house-cleaning, then drop them off at the grandparents, then off to work all night, then race back to fix the kids breakfast and drop them off at school and daycare, then sleep for five or six hours, and start all over again. His ex-wife, still addicted to alcohol, had pretty much dropped out of the picture.
A new study finds that young children whose mothers abuse drugs may face a higher risk of abuse and placement in foster care. Australian researchers found that infants whose mothers abused amphetamines or opiates were 13 times more likely to become victims of neglect or abuse than other children their age. They had similar odds of being placed in foster care.