What To Do When Your Adult Child Has a Substance Use Problem
Parenting is a life long commitment that is filled with joy as well as heartache. The need for parental support and guidance doesn’t stop with childhood and adolescence. Knowing adult children are enduring hardship is always painful, but watching them struggle with an addiction can be devastating. Discussing your concerns with your son or daughter about their drug or alcohol abuse may be the most important thing you can do for them.
Preparing for the Conversation
Take a step back and consider any significant changes in behavior, appearance, speech, or relationships. Look for signs that may indicate that addiction is impacting your adult child’s ability to function:
Is your adult child missing work or frequently late?
Has alcohol or drugs affected your child’s reputation?
Is your son or daughter struggling financially, without explanation? Has your child been in any legal trouble related to alcohol or drugs?
Does your child have difficulty sleeping or staying awake without a valid medical reason?
Does he or she minimize drug use or alcohol intake?
Are drugs or alcohol negatively impacting your child’s friendships or family relationships?
Does your child become agitated when you ask about his or her drug or alcohol use?
After answering these questions, it may be clear to you that your child needs professional assistance. Addressing your adult child’s addiction may strain your relationship so it is important to thoughtfully plan this conversation. As emphasized by Brian Bauer, a substance abuse therapist at Centerpointe Hospital in Missouri, the addict must be committed and ready to change his or her habits. While the substance abuser needs support in making appropriate lifestyle changes, it is also imperative for families to obtain professional guidance and support in order to improve the chances of a positive outcome. PAS counselors are available to help your family to prepare for constructive communication with your adult child.
Here are some suggestions for how to begin the conversation:
In a calm manner, explain to your son or daughter that you would like to have a private discussion, which may involve difficult topics. Continuing to offer emotional support while disapproving of the substance abuse can make a significant difference to the adult substance abuser. Express your concerns by offering details of the specific behaviors you have observed. It is important to mention factual and measurable information. Avoid blaming, accusing, or diagnosing the addict. Ask your child to seek a professional substance abuse evaluation to allow mental health specialists to determine the best course of action. A person confronted with an addiction problem may deflect and discuss past hurts. Accept responsibility when appropriate and refocus on the drug or alcohol problem.
Explain to your son or daughter that your concerns stem from your deep and unconditional love for them. Be as supportive, open, and non-judgmental as possible. Accusations and demands are most likely not going to get you positive results. Rather, approach your child with love and concern to support him or her in choosing to obtain professional help.
Hopefully, your adult child will accept your suggestion and seek professional assistance. Try to remain open and supportive without interjecting yourself unnecessarily. Allow the professionals to do their work; your most important role in this process is to provide emotional support and love. If your child decides against seeking treatment, do what is best for him or her by setting boundaries. Allowing a child to make a choice that you feel is wrong can be very difficult; however, being overly insistent that you know best can have a negative impact on your relationship and likely will not change the child’s decision. As difficult as it may be, don’t rescue your son or daughter from financial or legal problems; you are not responsible for your adult child’s behavior or addiction.
Seek support for yourself through counseling services from PAS and attending Alanon meetings (www.al-anon.alateen.org).
Heather Bradshaw, MC, PLPC, PAS Client Services Specialist
As difficult as it may be, don’t rescue your son or daughter from financial or legal problems; you are not responsible for your adult child’s behavior or addiction.
Water: A Simple First Step to Improving Health
Improving your health can be a daunting task, with so many dieting options, exercise programs and competing advice. There is one recommendation that every plan or program incorporates: drink more water!
Water is vital for your well being both physically and mentally because every system in your body depends on it. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues. Being adequately hydrated can improve energy, aid digestion, and improve weight loss efforts.
How much water do you need? Every day you lose about 10 cups of water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. Food usually accounts for 20 percent of your total fluid intake so if you consume about 8 cups of water or other beverages a day along with your normal diet, you will adequately replace your lost fluids.
Factors that influence water needs
You may need to modify your fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate in which you live, or your health status. Any activity that makes you sweat will require extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. During intense or prolonged exercise, it is best to consume a sports drink that contains sodium and other ions to avoid an electrolyte imbalance. Hot and humid weather will cause you to perspire. Heated indoor air can cause your skin to lose moisture in winter. High altitudes may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing. All of these situations use up more of your fluid reserves requiring an increase in liquid consumption. Fever, vomiting or diarrhea cause your body to lose fluids. Drinking more water is recommended for those who have bladder infections or urinary tract stones. Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated.
Tips for staying hydrated
Water is calorie free, inexpensive and readily available.
It is the best beverage of choice for your health.
Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal
Add flavor to your water with lemon, limes or other fruits and vegetables
Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings
Reach for a glass of water before you drink your first cup of coffee in the morning
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Healthy eating for athletes
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Tired of the same-ole same-ole? Try some of these sandwich fillings in whole-wheat pocket bread, on whole-grain bread or tortillas.
Cheese, avocado and sprouts
Leftover grilled vegetables (bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini) with sliced cheese, goat cheese, or pesto sauce
Cheddar or mozzarella cheese with apple slices
Cheese, tomato, lettuce, and pesto sauce
Sliced leftover chicken, honey mustard, tomatoes, and lettuce or sprouts
Sliced leftover beef with horseradish sauce, sliced tomato and cucumbers
Lowfat cream cheese, and smoked salmon (with tomato, and red onion)
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