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How Does Dependency Impact the Family?

11954857_sWith all the negative side effects, one might wonder why someone abusing drugs would have such trouble walking away from his or her habit. But many people don’t understand the nature of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), dependency is a compulsive habit that drives affected individuals regardless of undesirable consequences. This is why someone using drugs may continue to do so even when faced with the loss of employment, divorce, or declining physical health.

According to a recent article presented by Live Strong, drug use not only impacts the user, it also can disrupt family relationships and can result in a cycle of abuse and neglect towards loved ones.

Family Relationships

Family members who have a relative living with addiction often slip into a role that is dysfunctional to compensate for their loved one’s shortcomings. Over time, substance abuse can alter a person’s behavior and lead to severe family problems. It’s not uncommon for family members to deprive themselves of things so that they can provide resources to the dependent individual. This can lead to resentment and family members lashing out at the person with the addiction. And instead of trying to focus time and energy on getting the said person help, many in the family will rally to keep themselves from falling apart.

Pattern of Abuse and Neglect

Those living with addiction are not in a normal state of mind and may have trouble making rational decisions. It’s not uncommon for drug using parents to make their children a second priority. Drug abuse also heightens the risk of family violence, say the authors of a study made public in the Clinical Psychology Review. Additionally, many pregnant women continue to use drugs even though it increases the chances that their babies will be born with birth defects or lasting brain impairment.

User Impact

Dependency can lead to feelings of depression, agitation, anger, and anxiety. These impact the user and everyone else around him or her. Drug use also heightens the risk of communicable disease and can worsen existing mental health conditions.

Breaking the cycle of dependency often requires time and the help of a professional. The Family Guidance Center can walk families through this journey. Our therapy programs target the entire family, including spouses and children so that patterns of addiction can be broken and loved ones can rebuild a healthy way of life.

7 Ways to Help Children with Bipolar Disorder Succeed in School

9773503_sBipolar disorder is a mental illness that, left unchecked, can create serious issues for children at school. Symptoms of the disorder such as cycling mania and depression coupled with abrupt mood swings make it difficult for children to concentrate and learn. Much like ADHD, which early onset bipolar disorder is often mistaken for, there are many adaptations that can be made to the classroom environment that allow for a more positive learning experience.

According to a recent article outlined at Families.com, parents can ask that the following reasonable adaptations be made to support their child’s learning.

  1. A five minute warning should be provided to children by the teacher prior to switching activities so that they can properly separate themselves from the task at hand.

  2. Children need to receive praise when they are performing as instructed. In this manner, good behavior is supported through positive reinforcement.

  3. Anyone responsible for supplying a child with medication needs to be properly trained and aware of potential side effects.

  4. Frequent meetings with the child’s teacher may be needed to help identify triggers – such as time of day, onset of certain activities, etc. which may activate manic episodes so that outbursts can be minimized.

  5. Suicidal comments or acts of violence should never be ignored or taken lightly. Additionally, parents and the school counselor should always be notified of such incidents.

  6. Parents can request that another adult be made available in the event their child becomes unruly. Plans for how such situations will be handled need to be arranged in advance. One solution might be to create a neutral zone where the child can unwind without disrupting the class. Another might be to have the child walk off frustration or breathe deeply to regain composure.

  7. Teachers need to receive sufficient training on how to support children with bipolar disorder so they know what to expect, what medications the child is taking, and when the parent should receive a phone call. If the teacher seems unwilling to oblige, follow up with the school principal with regard to placement.

Bipolar disorder, while serious, is both manageable and treatable. With proper support and knowledge, children who have bipolar disorder can lead a very fulfilling and productive life. Check in with your local Family Guidance Center for more resources to help children living with mental illness.


Would you be Able to Spot the Risk Factors for Alcohol Dependence?

16141310_sMost people who end up dependent upon alcohol don’t do so intentionally, and it’s often a culmination of many factors both innate and environmental that lead to abuse. However, there are several risk factors that may make a person more prone to problematic drinking. While some people can drink responsibly their entire lives, for others, it’s not so easy.

An article found online at WebMD outlines a few of the elements that make a person more susceptible to alcohol misuse. Certainly not everyone who exhibits a risk factor for alcoholism is considered an alcoholic. But the following serves as a guide to help spot variables that could increase a person’s risk.

Family history of alcoholism
Research has shown there is a genetic link associated with alcohol dependence. This means that those who have family members living with alcoholism could themselves be more prone to misuse.

Early onset of alcohol use
Data indicates that the risk for adult alcohol abuse is impacted by the age at which a person starts drinking. Meaning, the younger a person is when he or she consumes alcohol, the higher the risk of problems down the road.

Males in particular are more apt to have issues with alcohol than women. In fact, they are at three times the risk for alcohol dependency as their female counterparts.

Alcohol-Friendly Surroundings
People living in places renowned for heavy drinking or locations where alcohol is easily accessible are more apt to drink themselves.

Feeling Unfulfilled
Alcohol can sometimes be used as a coping mechanism to navigate difficult life circumstances such as the end of a relationship or loss of a job, which may lead to a cycle of abuse.

Issues of Mental Health
Mental illness including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD all elevate the risk of alcohol dependence.

Alcoholism is a family disease that likely impacts the affected person as well as his or her family and friends. Loved ones serve an important role in helping dependent individuals seek treatment and remain sober. For assistance with addiction or to learn more about alcoholism, contact the Family Guidance Center.


The Troubling Truth about America’s Mental Health

Mental Health 8These days it’s very common to turn on the news and hear a story about tragedy.

The stress of terrorism, death, destruction, and disorderly conduct is driving tens of millions in our country to the brinks of despair. Data shows that the state of our nation’s mental health is changing – and not for the better. Here are some sobering facts about our national mental health:

  • According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 20 percent of U.S. adolescents of high-school age are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

  • At least 33 percent of U.S. workers deal with chronic stress that interferes with daily functioning.

  • Millions of Americans rely on some sort of toxic substance to provide stress relief.

  • Suicide now claims more American lives than vehicular accidents.

  • Our soldiers’ are more likely to die at their own hands as a result of suicide than be killed in combat by others.

With all the technological and medical advancements, one might expect levels of emotional heath to be improving with time instead of declining. A recent article from WND offers some insight regarding what’s behind the disturbing trend.

According to the article, life in America during the 1950s was much simpler and less stressful, not as compounded by societal troubles. Some attribute our current state of affairs to the breakdown of the family unit, a lack of traditional values, an unstable economy, and our devalued currency.

Fortunately, there are simple solutions that can help minimize stress and aid mental and physical health. Many people have found relief by getting back to the basics – maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding substance abuse, engaging in frequent exercise, and reflecting through meditation or prayer.

The Family Guidance Center also offers programs that teach healthy coping mechanisms. Forthrightly addressing issues of mental health is the best way to move forward and give people the peace and happiness they deserve. How might mental health services benefit your health or the health of your family?

Family and Friends Important in the Management of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder 1Bipolar disorder can be a lonely disease, but it doesn’t have to be. While friends and family members are important to staying healthy, in states of mania or depression,  they are often the first to be cut off from the affected person’s life. Stigma can cause individuals to withhold information about their condition, but that only serves to make matters worse. Being forthright with issues of mental health is the easiest way to help others understand and gain support.

A recent article found at WebMD underscores some ways to initiate open and honest communication with loved ones and peers.

  • Develop a support network Pick several people that you trust to be members of your support team. One person is not sufficient. Parents, siblings, other family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or even a social worker or pastor can all be integral should an emergency occur.

  • Teach them about bipolar disorder Let family and friends know that highs and lows are normal symptoms of the condition and educate them regarding what to expect when you have an episode. Discuss any pertinent treatment plans and advise that their involvement is crucial in your management of the disorder. If you have children, they also should receive an age-appropriate explanation of the disorder so that they are not fearful.

  • Devise a plan It’s hard to think clearly in a state of mania or depression. Having a plan in place with specific boundaries ensures you get help when you need it but also prevents a well-meaning person from being too overbearing. Talk about what will happen if things get out of control. For instance, in a state of mania, maybe a family member takes your keys to prevent rash behavior.

  • Get help Research indicates that about 4 percent of the population may be affected by symptoms of bipolar disorder. You are not alone. Keep contact with friends and family and fight the urge to withdraw.

For the past 100 years, professionals at the Family Guidance Center have been working to reduce stigma and help those with mental illness live happier, healthier lives. There are many different types of treatment available for those with bipolar disorder, and many people with this illness can lead productive, successful lives. If you would like to learn more about the disease or have questions, contact Family Guidance Center.