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Fighting Alcohol Addiction – Four Ways You Can Help a Loved One

20501502_sNobody expects to wake up one morning only to realize that he or she is addicted to alcohol. But research shows that around 10 percent of Americans have a problem with alcohol. Alcoholism is a disease, and though many people have good intentions to remain sober, that can be difficult without proper treatment and support networks in place – similar to the steps that would be required to manage any other disease.

Alcoholism is often a family disease, meaning its effects are not self-contained or isolated to just the affected person. In fact, for every individual living with alcoholism, there are six or more people who are also impacted by the disease. This is why counseling and treatment often involve the entire family. If someone in your family needs help with alcoholism, there are things you can do aid in the recovery process.

  1. Express your feelings. Let your loved one know that you are concerned for his safety and well-being. By taking the first step and expressing your own feelings, you make it easier for others to do the same. Be prepared to confront denial, however, as many individuals living with alcoholism may have a difficult time admitting to even themselves (at least at first) that they have a problem.

  2. Encourage treatment. Many support groups like AA and Al-Anon exist to help those living with alcoholism and their families know that they are not alone. These groups improve odds of recovery as they foster feelings of acceptance and support.

  3. Offer support. Advise that you will do what it takes to help the affected person get better. Studies show that dependent individuals are more successful in their sobriety when they are surrounded by strong support systems. Additionally, those who stay sober for 12 consecutive months have good chance of staying clean for the remainder of their life.

  4. Stage an intervention. As a last resort, interventions can be beneficial for loved ones in denial or those who remain resistant to seeking treatment. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and symptoms cannot be ignored. Include people who are close to the individual and those who are more apt to sway their decision to get help.

Family Guidance Center can help steer you in the right direction regarding treatment and recovery for alcohol addiction. There are many reasons and factors why individuals use alcohol as a coping mechanism; there are also many effective strategies for successfully managing triggers for a lifetime. Family Guidance Center has trained professionals in the Addiction Treatment Services program who can help those living with alcoholism to enjoy a productive life free from addiction.

 

Research Shows More Middle-aged Women Dying of Overdose

5041243_sThe prescription drug epidemic has impacted the lives of thousands of men and women in America. Over the last several decades, the term overdose has been highly associated with cocaine and heroin. This is because most of cases of overdose deaths during that period were a result of the two drugs, particularly for males. However, ever since the explosion of prescription drugs on the market, that statistic is changing. Experts advise that women, and especially middle-aged women, are increasingly becoming the victims of overdose.

In fact, in 2010, two of every five overdose deaths occurring in America involved women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), middle aged women are particularly at risk. While there are still more men who die as a result of overdose from both prescription and street drugs, the gap has significantly narrowed. CDC figures for 2010 show that 15,300 women and 23,000 men overdosed on prescription painkillers.

CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden says that we are seeing the female population die at unprecedented rates and the problem is only becoming worse. During the period from 1999 to 2010 the number of men who died from painkiller overdose increased three-and-a-half times as compared to a fivefold increase for women. Surprisingly, data shows that women aged 45 to 54 and those between the ages of 55 to 64 are at greatest risk, with overdose deaths in these two age brackets having tripled from 1999 to 2010.

Experts say that women’s higher tendency to become dependent and potentially overdose is a result of increased rates of chronic pain, higher prescribed dosages, and longer duration of use. Another contributing factor is that doctors may be too quick to prescribe painkillers for women, underestimating the risk of misuse by this population. Some studies also indicate that women may tend to hop from physician to physician more than men in an effort to get additional painkillers.

If you or someone you know is living with dependency or substance addiction, help them get the care they need by contacting Family Guidance Center. Family Guidance Center can work with individuals to identify triggers and a long-term strategy for recovery.

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.

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.

Gender
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.

 

Serving Teens Alcohol at Home Backfires on Parents

We all may know well-meaning parents who decided to permit teens (their own and friends) to drink alcohol at home where mom and dad could keep an eye on them.  They assumed that allowing kids to drink at home removed the taboo and would make drinking alcohol less about rebellion and therefore less appealing.  The actual facts show the opposite is true and what these parents also may have forgotten to consider is their own risk when they decide to serve alcohol to minors.

The National Institutes of Health has funded research which shows that serving under-aged kids alcohol in the home does not reduce the likelihood that children will be problem drinkers later.  Quite the reverse.  Research shows that kids who were given alcohol at home tend to drink more during their teens and are more likely to have drinking problems once they reach adulthood.

Parents who want to create a less uptight atmosphere around alcohol at home in hopes that it will lower kids’ desire to engage in risky drinking when they are away from home are building on a faulty premise.  The truth is that parents are influential in forming attitudes toward substance use.  If the parents are accepting and permissive about alcohol use,that is the message kids take away.  Parents who want to lower the risk of alcohol misuse do better to be very clear about the dangers of underage drinking.  Words and actions that reinforce that message are more effective in reducing bad alcohol choices by kids. Rather than promote alcohol use, parents should help teens learn about the consequences of underage drinking.

Parents who think their teen may already be engaged in alcohol use should not wait to seek help for both the addiction or dependence, and the mental health problems like chronic depression that often accompany alcohol use. Family Guidance Center can help with the mental health symptoms and illnesses that often go hand in hand with teen alcohol or substance use.  Early intervention is important to help teens who struggle with alcohol abuse.