How One Mom Empowers Her Children to Make Sober Decisions
An in-depth interview with a Mother who shares her perspective, experience & advice in broaching the addiction topic with her children
HOW ARE YOU ADVOCATING TO KEEP LOVED ONES SOBER EACH AND EVERY DAY ?
Advocating is the key word here, since we have no control over one’s choice to use whatever their drug of choice may be — alcohol, controlled substances, street drugs, and whatever else is out there.
Addiction is a disease that is sweeping through our nation and we are losing so many to everyday. The nationwide opioid crisis continues to take a devastating human toll across our very own region. Data from the Monroe County Medical Examiner shows that there were 287 deaths in 2017 directly attributable to the use of heroin, opioids, fentanyl, or related other substances.
It’s time to explore a different approach than the current movement in place solely focused on opioid awareness and prevention mostly geared toward the middle-aged man. We need to dial-back our focus several (age) years and get them while they are young. We need to go after the “next generation” of drug and alcohol users now. Before it’s too late.
I had the privilege to sit down with a mother of four who has come full circle with her own addictions to both alcohol and prescription drugs and has been in recovery for 14 years now. In our conversation, I learned how she is taking a unique approach to addressing this topic with her teenaged children.
Empowering your children to make sober decisions. Here is what she had to say.
Q: How are you guiding your children to make healthy decisions regarding drugs and alcohol?
A: Awareness that addiction of any kind is a disease and should be treated as such. We have talked at great length, starting in their adolescent years, of the impact addiction has had on our own family — the both struggles and disappointments and success stories. I foster open dialogue and in an environment that is comfortable to share-in, filled with validation and free of judgement. A safe environment and exchange of information is key to the any conversation surrounding this topic, no matter what age.
Q: What steps are you taking to help guide your children towards making ‘sober’ choices?
A: This is the only place in my life where I am a “buddy” to my children, rather than the authoritative parent. We have a “buddy system” in place for when my children attend a party and find out that drugs or alcohol are present. Cell phones weren’t available when I was young. I take full advantage of this easily accessible channel to communicate with my kids nowadays! I have a codeword with each of my children, so if they need me to meet them, somewhat of a rescue call, they know I will be there with no questions asked at the time. I am never under the influence of drugs or alcohol, so I can get to my kids any hour of the day. Setting up an Uber account is the next best way to cast your safety net and retrieve your kiddos from an undesirable situation (and without being totally embarrassed).
Q: What measures are you taking to prevent the disease from manifesting in your family?
A: Family Time. Confidence. Focus
We have dinner together most nights. This is an opportune time to get caught up on what is going on in my children’s lives and can intuitively address any questions, thoughts, etc. that my kids are pondering.
I continue to build my kids up to be confident with their personal choices by zoning in their own personal God given gifts and talents.
Reinforcing the message that it is “cool” to “choose” not to drink or drug is key so that it gets ingrained into their thinking and becomes ultimately a personal choice.
I’ve made a strategic attempt to get my kids heavily involved in and focused on athletics and performing arts. These programs make them accountable 11 months out of the year and throughout most academic weekends when parties are more prone to taking place.
Q: There are many initiatives to address this drug crisis such as expanded law enforcement; increased access for patients to treatment; emergency response efforts trained to administer naloxone; reducing the availability of unused prescription drugs; or the New York State’s Opioid Stewardship Act (made effective July 1, 2018 that requires manufacturers, distributors and importers of opioids to report the details of their sale and distribution). What do you believe is the model for success?
A: I’ve been fully open about my personal struggle with addiction and their father’s too. They know addiction is a family disease and exactly what that means. I’ve been introducing this concept to them for many years now — layer by layer, as age appropriate.
My children know that if they one day are struggling with overuse of any kind, that they should not be ashamed and that there are multiple resources for help. First, seek out support groups and counseling. Second, get honest with their family and loved ones about the situation for support, as long it won’t deter from their path to sobriety. Third, consult with the primary physician or specialist for comprehensive care plan. My children know that I cannot control a budding addiction. They know I am educating them and can advocate for them at any time, if they need me to.
A Message from the Pope
On December 1st, 2018, Pope Francis addressed participants in a three-day conference at the Vatican that examined addiction issues. The Vatican News reported that the Pope said, “Drug addiction is an open wound in our society, whose victims are ensnared into exchanging their freedom for slavery.” He thus called for combating the production, processing and distribution of drugs worldwide, and urged governments to courageously undertake the fight against those who “deal in death”.
He further commented, “young people and others, the Pope observed, are lured into a bondage hard to escape, resulting in the loss of meaning in life and sometimes in the loss of life itself. In this situation, the Church feels the urgency of putting the human person back at the center of the socio-economic-cultural discourse; a humanism founded on the “Gospel of Mercy”. This calls for a truly effective pastoral action in order to alleviate, care for and heal the immense suffering caused by various forms of addiction.”
In a recent article in the Catholic Courier a local parishioner states, “It can be easy to equate addiction with a moral deficiency, and that is completely inappropriate and hurtful. What are the values that we practice as Catholics? Love and compassion and forgiveness and hope,” says Peters, a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes. Let these be words of wisdom that we all abide by in support of our brothers, sisters and neighbors suffering from addiction.
In Need of Help?
If you or a loved one is struggling from addiction, you are not alone. In #ROC Rochester, NY, please call our CFC hotline at (585) 546–7220 x5030 (referrals for men) and (585) 546–7220 x5053 (referrals for women). Learn more about our residential and outpatient recovery services at: https://www.cfcrochester.org/our-services/empowering-the-vulnerable/