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Raising Teens in Recovery

by James Heller 11. May 2009 14:13
Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts who are parents may find it difficult to urge abstinence upon their teen children.  Does tough love and hard war stories work, or is the correct approach to deny, deny, deny?

The goals for these parents should be prevention and guidance.  Youths need to first know the damage, in real terms, which alcoholism and drug addiction causes.  Second, they need to be educated about the problems associated with teen alcohol and drug abuse, and that they can ask for help if they need it.

The answer to the above question is that the parents should be honest about their experiences, to a degree.  The beginning and end of any conversation regarding alcohol or drugs should be about consequences that were suffered.  Since all children of alcoholics and addicts are at risk of having the disease, they must be made well aware of the dangers that alcohol and drugs can bring to their lives.

Not talking about alcohol and drugs as part of the good times can actually be a mistake.  Adolescents have radars that can detect parental hypocrisy from miles away.  And it is very likely that they have heard from others that getting drunk or high is fun.  Draw a connection from the fun to the immediate and future consequences, and help them to understand reality.

The guidelines below are from a detailed brochure at Stopalcoholabuse.gov.  Any parent seeking further guidance is urged to read the brochure.  A few moments of reading now can reduce the chances that adolescent alcohol or drug treatment will be needed in the future.  It might even save a life.

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Parents need to think carefully about how to answer their children’s questions about their own alcohol use as teens.
  • If a parent was an underage drinker, be honest.
  • Don’t let your past stop you from conversing with your child about underage alcohol use. The value of face-to-face discussions with your child cannot be overestimated.  
  • Acknowledge that it was risky. Make a distinction between adolescent use and adult use and emphasize that we know even more now about the risks than ever before.
  • Explain how and why your opinions of underage drinking have changed.

If your family has a history of alcoholism, your children need to know that they are at a greater risk for problem drinking.
  • Discuss what drinking responsibly means, and that some people are unable to drink alcohol at all without drinking to excess.
  • Explain that alcoholism is a progressive disease that is a combination of physical addiction and mental obsession with drinking.
  • Communicate the importance of abstaining from alcohol. Tell your children that they need to delay drinking for as long as possible and recommend that they not drink at all. Explain that the older they are before they take a drink, the lower the chances that they will have problems with alcohol.
  • Let your children know that drinking under the legal age of 21 is a major risk for people with a family history of alcohol.
  • Inform them that there are successful treatment options for people who drink and develop problems with alcohol, and that you support family members who are in recovery.

-- Source: http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/media/Underage_Brochure_508final.pdf --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.