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The Dangers of Helicopter Parenting

There’s an old Chinese proverb which states, “a watched flower never blooms.” While the ancient Chinese have been given credit for inventing gunpowder, the compass, and a myriad of other inventions, it appears that they may have also been the first to realize the dangers of helicopter parenting. A popular term in today’s society, a helicopter parent is someone who constantly hovers over their child. From an early age, helicopter parents don’t merely smother their children, they try to control every aspect of their lives. Popular examples of this type of parenting are when parents call their children’s professors at college to complain about grades or continue to do everyday tasks for them such as the laundry or grocery shopping, even as adults.

Loving your children is a natural process for most people, so it’s easy to fall into this pattern of behavior. But there can also be unforeseen consequences when children are not allowed to grow into independent individuals. Many adults who were raised this way have no sense of self-reliance and haven’t figured out how to live in adult society.

This problem may be most severe, however, when we look at the parents of young addicts who have had years of substance abuse issues. Seeing a child in pain is the most difficult thing a parent can deal with, but continually trying to shield them from pain can also make them unequipped for the real world. And while addiction may be a disease of physical pain, recovery is often a process of emotional discomfort. Parents who are so used to doing everything for their children may unwittingly be damaging their child’s ability to find their own path of recovery. No matter how hard we try, we can never live our children’s lives for them or constantly protect them. Sometimes the best thing to do is let your child fall, so they can learn to pick themselves back up.

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Becoming Independent After Treatment

The transition from childhood to adult life has never been an easy one. But for millions of young adults, it’s only getting harder and harder. Unemployment among people in their 20s is higher than it’s ever been and recent studies have shown that only about half of employed college graduates even have a job that requires a college degree. Without regular employment, children are living off of their parents longer into their adult lives, or else they risk going into debt. This problem becomes even more severe when you add drug addiction and substance abuse into the equation.

So how do young recovering addicts start the individuation process? In the beginning it all starts with a state of mind. Becoming independent is one of the most important aspects of a young adults addiction recovery because for years they have lived under the idea that they can be rescued from financial or legal disaster thanks to their parents. And while their family has continued to enable them, their ability to make adult decisions and realize personal goals has been diminished. So at first, a young adult must gain the personal confidence to make real life decisions for themselves.

From there, thoughts can turn into actions. Of course, getting a job and living on your own aren’t the only things that make someone independent. There are a myriad of life skills that people simply don’t learn in school, so it’s important to start small. Learning to balance a check book, clean up after yourself, pay your utilities, and express your opinions in a work setting are all invaluable tools in becoming independent. By accomplishing smaller tasks at first, addicts gain the confidence to set more aspiration goals. Independence, like recovery, won’t happen overnight; but it is something worth striving toward.

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Long Term Treatment Supports Long Term Recovery

Recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction is a process; it doesn’t happen overnight. Yet time and again people seem to view treatment programs as a quick fix or even an immediate cure. However recovery from addiction is a process which involves time, therapeutic treatment, a community of support, and personal growth. It’s almost illogical to assume that someone can do drugs for years, spend 1 month in treatment, and suddenly be a whole new person. Long term treatment and recovery is an on-going process.

While most treatment facilities recommend at least several months of inpatient, followed by a period of sober living, outpatient care and continued 12-step programs, many people leave treatment early, irrevocably damaging their chances at lifelong recovery. Some studies have shown that one of the correlating factors to long term recovery is a community of support, which can’t be readily obtained in such a short time in treatment. While their are many possible reasons for this disturbing trend, the most likely one is that people are simply uncomfortable in treatment. But maybe that’s exactly what they need. After all, taking a hard, introspective look at yourself is rarely fun and never easy. Learning to live sober in a world where negative emotions had previously been dulled by narcotics or alcohol can be uncomfortable.

But the thing that most people don’t realize when they pack up and leave a facility after just a few short weeks is that those feelings of discomfort don’t disappear once you go. They are usually rooted in an addict’s own fears or resentments and the only way to alleviate that pain without relapse is to do the work of recovery. Additionally, addicts have to realize that they will never truly be “cured.” Treatment isn’t a magic pill that can cure you of your need for drugs or alcohol. What it can offer you are tools for living which will show you how to not just find peace, but happiness. Long Term treatment is the path to long to recovery. Start your journey today!

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How Addiction Affects the Whole Family

Family Involvement in Addiction Treatment

One of the most common arguments that an addict can give when asked why they keep using or drinking is, “I’m not hurting anyone.” They have this sense that if others would simply leave them to their own devices, they could get high in peace and nobody else would need to be bothered. Not only is this idea extremely selfish, it’s also just plain incorrect. As painful as it is to realize, nobody lives their lives in a vacuum. Whatever our intentions, our actions always have effects on others. In the case of addiction, drinking and getting high are only a piece of the problem. Most of the issues have to do with trust, communication, empathy, and many of the other interpersonal skills and emotions that we use everyday.

This is why addiction is so damaging to the entire family; it erodes away at the foundation when ever children lie to their parents. In treatment, we can’t simply treat the addict, we have to treat the entire family as an integrative unit. And those bonds of trust, once broken, can be hard to repair. One of the first steps in this process is for an addict in treatment to set up boundaries between their families. In most cases, the addict has been behaving destructively for months or even years. And the family member has had to fill a role as a protector and savior. If the family members are ever to trust the addicts again, they need to realize that they can’t always be there to save them and that they can handle their own problems.

Although the goal is to build greater trust between family members, setting up boundaries also helps addicts feel more independent and confident. Just as their addiction affected their family, in most cases the family also affected the addiction. Recovery isn’t just about abstinence; it is about finding the person that you want to be and striking out on your own.

Family therapy and support is an imperative key to the bigger picture of recovery.  While your loved one is in treatment you can attend the treatment centers Family Program and it is also highly recommended to attend Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon is a support group specifically for family members of a loved one with an addiction. There are many chapters and locations throughout the United States.

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Local Al-Anon Meetings in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Pacific Palisades, and Malibu.