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Family Guidance Blog

April Marks National Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol-use disorders affect over 18 million people living across the country. But the effects of alcohol are even broader still – children, spouses, other loved ones, and friends also carry the burden of alcoholism. It is estimated that a quarter of all American children have resided in households where one or more family members had an alcohol problem.

According to a report revealed on NCADD’s website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that alcohol abuse costs the U.S. economy somewhere in the neighborhood of $223.5 billion each year. The price associated with alcohol abuse comes in the form of lost productivity at work, increased healthcare costs, extra burdens on the legal and criminal justice systems, and vehicular accidents stemming from intoxication.

This year marks the 27th anniversary that the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month. Since 1987, every April the organization calls awareness to the issue in the hopes of educating the public regarding the dangers of alcohol and reducing stigma that frequently stands in the way of people getting help.

This year’s theme is entitled “Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow,” and highlights the importance of early prevention and treatment efforts. Data shows that adolescent alcohol use which precedes the age of 15 quadruples a person’s risk of developing an adult-onset alcohol addiction as compared to those who didn’t start consuming alcohol until at least the age of 20.

Children with poor support networks or those with depression or anxiety are at higher risk of alcohol abuse. So are kids who experience trouble in school or who have family members who abuse alcohol. Studies show that children do care what their parents think about underage drinking and that parental involvement and education are key to decreasing levels of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol use is tied to higher instances of crime, divorce, car accidents, and domestic abuse. If you or someone you love needs help coping with alcoholism, the Family Guidance Center can help you take those first critical steps toward sobriety and living a happier, healthier life.

 

Substance Abuse and ADHD Often Linked

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often go hand-in-hand. It can be difficult to pinpoint whether drug use causes mental health concerns or if undiagnosed mental health problems open the door for substance abuse. In all actuality, experts say that it can occur both ways. Those living with mental health problems might use drugs to cope with symptoms, while other individuals under the influence of drugs discover that the capacity to disrupt the brain’s normal development from the drug use may lead to compromised mental health.

A Psychology Today article also points out that adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of substance abuse as their brains are still growing and developing. Ironically, ADHD in adolescence has been linked to higher rates of drug abuse. A decade-long study whose results were released in 2011, uncovered that individuals with ADHD had nearly a 50 percent higher risk of turning to substance abuse at some point in their lives when compared to others without an ADHD diagnosis.

ADHD 4Some parents questions whether it is the ADHD medications themselves that lead to a greater likelihood of later substance abuse. Because there were almost 3 million children and adolescents prescribed ADHD medications in 2007 alone, it’s understandable why parents might be concerned. Though, many studies on the subject can put that fear to rest as there has been no credible evidence linking stimulant use among kids with ADHD to higher instances of drug experimentation or later substance abuse.

In fact, research seems to support the exact opposite. One study made public in 2008, examined 114 children with ADHD for half a decade. And while 94 percent received stimulant treatment, the group was at nearly a 75 percent reduced risk of developing a problem with substance abuse despite their use of medication.

Experts say that it’s important to be aware of the co-existence of mental health and substance use disorders. Mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center can help individuals sort through symptoms so that one or both conditions can be correctly diagnosed and treated. If you suspect that a loved one may be affected by either an issue of mental health or substance abuse, help is available through Family Guidance Center.

Rx Drug Abuse Exceeds 22 Million in U.S.

Addiction 2It’s no secret that America has a widespread battle with the misuse of prescription drugs. In fact, the problem has been coined the prescription drug epidemic. With prescription drug abuse becoming a major public health concern, experts say it is ever more important that communities and governments band together to jointly tackle the issue that threatens the health and safety of so many residents.

According to a recent report in Science Daily, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that since 2002, close to 22 million Americans have used prescription drugs in a manner inconsistent with the way they were prescribed.

According to Pamela S. Hyde, Administrator for SAMHSA, labors at reducing misuse have had inconsistent results across the country. Gil Kerlikowske who serves as the Director of National Drug Control Policy says that there needs to be joint effort of prevention at both the federal and state level. He encourages people to learn more about the dangers in their own medicine cabinets and advises that any unused, expired, or unnecessary medications be disposed of in a proper manner.

Among other SAMHSA report findings was that data from 2010 to 2011 showed a rate of prescription abuse among those at least 12 years of age to be in the neighborhood of 3.6 to 6.4 percent, depending on the state. Hyde says that SAMHSA’s report is valuable for developing a more targeted approach for prevention and treatment. She adds that the public needs to be advised of the serious health risks associated with prescription drug abuse. Some of the states that topped the list for highest rates of painkiller abuse included Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Abusing prescription medications is only preceded by marijuana as America’s most common battle with unlawful drug use. Learn the truth about prescription drug abuse. Contact the Family Guidance Center for more information about prevention and treatment programs available.

Know the Warning Signs: When to Seek Professional Help

Mental Health 5For many people, it’s hard to admit the need for help. But throughout the course of life, everyone at some point could use some help. Certainly not every problem warrants professional help. How then do you differentiate between issues that could be improved from mental health treatment and those which could subside on their own?

An article found at Psychology Today provides some insight into when to seek the help of a mental health professional. Here are a few signs that may indicate a need for assistance:

Experiencing trauma In the midst of a traumatic situation, the body’s fight or flight response takes over and helps us self-preserve. It isn’t until after-the-fact that the presence and symptoms of trauma are noticeable, in many cases. If your history includes neglect, abuse, witnessing a horrific event, or if you were a victim of an incident yourself, there is healing in recognizing the presence and impact of trauma with a professional and moving toward healthy coping strategies.

Coping with personal loss Situations like losing a loved one or going through a divorce can literally take the life and energy out of a person. Even losing a job can severely impact personal self-esteem and the will to move forward. Grief from these types of situations can continue for extended periods of time and impact other relationships as well.

Using drugs or alcohol to avoid dealing with problems Relying on drugs or alcohol only serves to make problematic situations worse. If you have trouble giving up substance use despite a desire to do so, or continue to use substances even though doing so yields negative consequences, this could be a sign of an addictive or compulsive disorder that merits further attention.

Warning signs usually start with a person feeling unlike themselves. Perpetual sadness, anger or despair, or continued problems eating or sleeping, should not be ignored. Other signs warranting expert help include loss of interest in things that were once important, a withdrawal from loved ones, or suicidal thoughts. Family Guidance Center is a source of professional help and support and offers services to all income levels. Most mental health problems can be greatly improved with proper diagnosis and treatment. Contact the Family Guidance Center for more information about first steps toward getting help from an experienced mental health professional.

Alcoholism is a Family Disease

Alcoholism 2Parents with issues of alcoholism don’t cope with the disease alone. Alcoholism is a condition that impacts every member of the family from spouses to children. Children are especially vulnerable as they may feel partially responsible for alcohol-related problems, failing to comprehend the complications related to addiction.

According to a Livestrong article, children whose parents are affected by alcoholism have healthcare costs that are nearly a third higher than children of non-alcoholic parents. The risk of child abuse and childhood mental and physical health problems also rises when children have one or more parent living with alcoholism.

Expectant mothers are warned of the dangers of drinking during gestation as it can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, developmental abnormalities, and termination of the pregnancy. Prenatal alcohol consumption has also been tied to the onset of learning disabilities.

Alcohol related difficulties often weigh heavily on families. According to ProjectKnow.com, the development of poor self-esteem, shame, guilt, fear, or depression in children could stem from parental levels of alcohol abuse. Kids may even struggle in school or have trouble forming relationships because of such problems at home. These children may feel that they are somehow to blame for household arguments and are forced to grow up much more quickly than normal. Worse, they may repeat the cycle and live with addiction themselves as adults.

In fact, figures from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) shows that children of alcoholics are at quadruple the risk of other children of having problematic drinking patterns. They are also more likely to marry others whose families have histories of alcoholism. Additional complications from alcohol can result in broken communication, divorce and even violence.

Family members wishing to get help for alcohol-related problems should contact the Family Guidance Center. Mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center offer confidential support and programs to assist families living with addiction so that they can resume healthy, productive lives.