A New Year often means change, growth and New Year resolutions. January is Drug and Alcohol Awareness Month, and here at Family Builders, we discuss how to keep your children drug and alcohol-free in our parenting classes. This is an important focus because substance abuse is not only the number one health problem in the state of Oklahoma but also in the nation (Oklahoma Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services). More devastatingly, addiction is a family disease meaning the traumatizing effects of addiction begin and end within the family dynamics.

According to The Addiction Center, the risk for a child to become an addict is passed down through genes as well as the environment they grew up in, putting children of alcoholics or addicts at a higher risk for developing substance abuse issues. Substance abuse not only affects the addict, but it also affects the lives of their loved ones and the society in which they live. The families and friends of individuals who have a substance abuse disease will see their loved one’s lives, behavior and physicality change drastically. The effects of substance abuse can lead to emotional, financial, medical and legal consequences that affect the entire family.

For these families, conflict becomes normal, trust erodes, and communication becomes difficult and frustrating. According to the Addiction Center, “Children growing up seeing a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to develop substance use disorders in their adulthood. They are also 3 times more likely to be neglected, physically, and sexually abused. Seeing a parent on drugs often creates distressing emotions which not only creates delays in learning and development but also pronged mental and emotional disorders.”

So, what can we do to keep children drug and alcohol-free? Here are some steps to keep in mind:

  • Step 1 – Demonstrate caring by acting with your child’s best interest in mind.
  • Step 2 – Show your kids that you are interested in their day, help them with their homework, attend their after school activities and get acquainted with their teachers, coaches,and friends.
  • Step 3 – It is also very important that you parent without the use of violence, manage your anger before implementing discipline.
  • Step 4 – Have a conversation with your children about drugs and alcohol, don’t lecture them. Try listening more and talking less, you’ll learn more about your kids that way.
  • Step 5 – Model appropriate drinking in front of your children, don’t try to sneak or hide the fact that you’re drinking.
  • Step 6 – It’s never okay to offer your children something to drink. “It’s okay just this once,” will not cut it. If they do it once, you can bet they will do it again with you not around.
  • Step 7 – Lead by example, if you don’t want your children to do illegal drugs or drink heavily, then you shouldn’t be either.
  • Step 8 – Stick to your values, no drinking means no drinking anywhere or with anyone.
  • Step 9 – Say yes to healthy habits by showing your kids how to take care of their health.
  • Step 10 – Communication is always key. When there is open communication between a parent and a child, it will alleviate the anxiety of kids and help them understand clear lines of what is right and wrong.
  • Step 11 – Have fun as a family going on outings and having spending time without alcohol.
  • Step 12 – Let your home be the hangout spot for your kids and their friends so that you can monitor their behaviors. It’s also really important to know who your kids’ friends are and their families. It might be best to let your home be where the children hang out.

Keeping children safe is a parent’s number one priority, and since we know that substance abuse issues begin with the parents in the children’s lives it’s important for those parents to seek the help they need also if they have substance abuse issues. In order to break the cycle of this abuse and trauma, parents must decide to take the necessary steps to get help for themselves so their children don’t suffer the consequences. For more information about how Family Builders can help you break the cycle of abuse in your family, check out our website at familybuildersok.org or give us a call at 405-232-8226.

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