Whether you realize it or not, as a parent you set an example for your kids. Before you can help them address their drug or alcohol use, you must examine your own relationship with substances. You may even feel like a hypocrite because you drank alcohol in high school or tried marijuana. Realize that in order to help your son or daughter with their problem, you’ll first have to address yours.
One in four youth under age 18 lives in a family where a person abuses alcohol or suffers from alcoholism.
The toll addiction takes on these children can be extensive.
Children of addiction (COAs) are at significantly greater risk for:
. Mental illness or emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety
. Physical health problems
. Learning problems, including difficulty with cognitive and verbal skills, conceptual reasoning and abstract thinking
. Verbal, physical, sexual abuse and neglect
. Their own addiction
Children whose parents abuse alcohol or drugs are almost three times more likely to be verbally, physically or sexually abused; and four times more likely than other children to be neglected. Strong scientific evidence also suggests that addiction tends to run in families. COAs are four times more likely than non-COAs to develop alcoholism or other drug problems.
Here is a brief questionnaire to help you privately assess your use of chemicals-and the reasons why you use them. There are no right or wrong answers! The purpose these questions is merely to help you focus on your own alcohol and other drug-related attitudes and behaviors. Despite what you (or others) say, these are the attitudes and behaviors that your children will most likely copy. Go through the questions and answer them honestly. You may discover some surprising things about yourself!
1. When you have friends over, do you immediately offer them an alcoholic beverage?
2. When you have a headache, do you immediately take a pill to get rid of the pain?
3. When you are nervous or upset, is your immediate response to “take something” to get rid of the feeling?
4. Have your children ever seen you drunk?
5. In your home, is it considered “manly” or “macho” to be able to drink a lot? Is it “unlady-like” to drink a lot?
6. In your home, do people joke about getting drunk and doing crazy things?
7. Do your children ever hear you and your partner arguing about one or the other having had too much to drink?
8. Do you smoke cigarettes? Have you ever warned your children about smoking while you were smoking?
The above information is brought to you by the South Bay Coalition. The South Bay Coalition (www.sbcoalition.com) is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth. To order our booklet: A Parent’s Guide To The Prevention Of Alcohol And Other Drugs, please visit our website or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.