Does Drinking Affect My Child?

When parents drink, children learn

It’s well-known that parenting is perhaps one of the most difficult jobs. It is a 24-7, around-the-clock, life-changing responsibility that requires adjustments on all fronts. For those who have a complicated relationship with alcohol, the stakes are even greater. When that “complicated relationship” becomes a pattern of drinking and avoidance, the necessities of parenting can begin to take a backseat to that next drink, and missed opportunities for connection become engrained ways of relating with one another. Remember what it’s like to be a small child, to look up to the adults of the world, especially your parents, to learn from them, and to expect them to have all of the answers. Your child’s identity and sense of security is deeply entwined with yours: with the way that you live your life day-by-day, and how you carry yourself. However, getting drunk around them, spending the next day hungover, or glorifying that lifestyle passes along several important messages to your children throughout their formative years, like the lessons outlined below:

Lesson 1. They’re Second

It is a basic aspect of healthy development for children to learn that they can rely on their caregivers for all of their basic needs: food, water, shelter, touch. However the list does not stop there, children require constant engagement in their world, including the provision of experiences that create the foundation for healthy relationships and formulate a sound perspective.  If you’re not spending adequate time with your child, they will learn that they are not worthy of your care and attention and that they will always be second to the drink in your hand. Developing a healthy sense of confidence and self-worth won’t come quite as easily, as the most important person in their life did not treat them as a priority.

Lesson 2. Their Feelings Are A Burden

Childhood is a time fraught with many new experiences and difficult challenges, each an opportunity in learning how to self- regulate. From the time they begin sleep training, to when they need to learn that tantrums are not the way to get what they want, it is the role of the parent to teach them how to identify their feelings and work through them. They rely on you to learn emotional regulation, to be able to cope with the difficulties that life throws their way. If you’re drinking to excess, there is a good chance that you never learned these lessons yourself, and not to mention, your patience with them is likely to be thin.  Learning these skills is an important part of recovery from addiction, if not only for yourself but also for your children. 

Lesson 3. Alcohol is the Answer

As your children look up to you and learn from the world around them, it would be difficult to imagine them forgoing incorporating your favorite coping mechanism into their repertoire. They likely see your reaction to a stressful day, the “I need a drink”, and believe it quite literally is the answer to life’s difficulties.   Remember that your children are soaking up life lessons by watching you: when you are upset, happy, angry, or drunk, they learn that this is how adults move through the world. Make sure not to normalize the need of an external substance to regulate internal states, or this is exactly what the children will learn, and lend way to a lifetime of their own complicated relationship with alcohol. 

Lesson 4. They Can’t Count on Anyone

With little evidence to the contrary, children may generalize their experiences of turning to their parents for support, help or counsel and finding rejection to all others in their lives. They learn easily enough that people aren’t reliable, can’t be trusted, and will just let them down. 

Show them a different way.

The truth is quite simple, facing life’s difficulties with healthy coping strategies isn’t an option for children who aren’t being taught them. As adolescents, these lessons become paramount to how your child constructs their reality, cementing patterns that they may carry for the rest of their lives. Remember, if your child thinks that avoiding responsibility is easier than avoiding it, they will likely take that option.  Make the hard choice now, so your children can learn that they too can do the hard thing. Give us a call today to learn where to begin your recovery journey, and how we can help you to do what you need to do to be the best parent possible.

How to Quit Drinking

Do you ever think to yourself that perhaps it’s time to quit drinking? Maybe you’ve managed to skate by unnoticed at work, and for the most part, been able to keep up with appearances. Maybe your family member has expressed concerns about your patterns, but you never wanted to believe them.  But how can you stop drinking because, in essence, it is much easier to overindulge and grow addicted to alcohol than it is to quit drinking, right? Quitting would mean owning up to that thing you said, or that thing you did. It would mean making apologies, trying new things, and changing your way of life. You may hear all of the difficulty and the challenge written in those words, and it is true, that will come, but also contained within those words, within a life of pursuing sobriety, is hope.

Alcohol Use and Alcohol Dependence

Understanding the dangers as well as the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse and its impact on overall life and society at large can help you make healthier choices and eventually quit drinking. Alcohol dependence affects people from all walks of life and has profound negative effects, especially on the brain, as well as the heart, pancreas, liver, and immune system.    Despite its negative impact, alcohol continues to be one of the causes of preventable death, followed closely by tobacco, a poor diet, and living a sedentary lifestyle.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder, and at least 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related deaths.    Do you suspect that you might be struggling with an alcohol use disorder?  Here are the warning signs to look out for:
  • Sub-par or worse performance at work or school
  • Engaging in risky behaviors: drunk driving, sexual promiscuity, and the resulting legal problems
  • Experiencing temporary blackouts or memory loss after drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite health issues like liver or heart disease including diabetes that is made worse by alcohol
  • Failed interventions from family members and friends who are worried about your drinking
  • Making excuses for drinking like to help deal with stress, to relax or feel normal
  • Choosing to drink instead of following through with responsibilities 
  • Distancing yourself from people which may result to drinking in secrecy
  If you exhibit any of the abovementioned warning signs that detect potential alcohol abuse, don’t stop alcohol use abruptly because depending on the severity you may put your life at risk. You may need to attend a detox facility or call in a professional to safely detox from the comfort of your own home   Alcohol abuse can begin to impact a person’s life negatively and tends to spiral out of control quickly if left unaddressed. Of course, signing up for a treatment program is an excellent place to start, as they can assist you with all of the following, but until then, here are a few tips to help you quit drinking:
  1.     Before you can successfully kick alcohol to the curb, you must first take the time to discover why you no longer need it in your life anymore
  2.     Accept that you have a problem and realize you have control over what enters your body. By so doing, you empower yourself, not your addiction
  3.     Recognize and admit your weaknesses when it comes to alcohol and enact change. For example, you may want to avoid going to bars, or being around any alcoholic beverage, and cleaning out your home of all temptations. Remember, you’re only weak if you give weakness a foothold.
  4.     When you catch yourself in the throes of “a happy drinking memory,” stop for a moment and play that memory all the way through and remember how it felt when you woke up the next day.  Use that feeling to fuel your determination to quit drinking
  5.     Reaffirm the benefits you will notice in your life from quitting drinking
  6.     Seek help from family and counseling support groups for a judgment-free, supportive environment
  7.     Contact us today to get started on your treatment journey!

What is Drinking in Moderation?

Have you ever sat back and taken a hard look at your relationship with alcohol? Better yet, have you done a deep dive into understanding your own motivations for drinking or even attempted to discover your limits regarding how many drinks are too many in your opinion?  It is well known that people use alcohol to cope, to fit in, to socialize; however, factors such as genetics, personality, or environment can also play a significant role when determining the type of drinker one is. For example; social drinking is associated with moderate alcohol use. However, there are people in this category who will drink out of peer pressure or fit in because drinking to them is mainly a social pastime.   There are some active drinkers whose sole purpose is to drink in order to feel drunk, while others may not necessarily drink heavily, but will do so as a way of ‘fitting in.’ People who use drinking as a coping mechanism are more likely to be men and women who tend to consume large amounts in response to emotional triggers and progress to more dangerous levels of drinking behaviors.

Drinking in Moderation

A decision to drink less and stay within moderate limits is meant to avoid any health, personal, family, social, job-related, financial or legal problems. Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups, there is Moderation Management (MM) who seeks to understand and delineate the lifestyle of a moderate drinker as someone who considers an occasional drink to be a small, although enjoyable part of life, and has interests, hobbies and other ways to enjoy life that do not involve alcohol. They describe someone who has a healthy relationship with alcohol engaging in their own limit-setting in terms of time and rate, as well as involved with others who have similar views, always comfortable and never secretive about their use.    In terms of amount, what is considered moderate drinking is consuming up to one drink per day for healthy women and two drinks per day for men. Moderate drinking may also be defined as maintaining a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of below 0.55 and in most cases, limiting the speed at which you drink to ensure that your BAC remains at a safe level. One’s BAC can also be influenced by other factors other than the type of drink and the speed of consumption, for example:
  • Gender-wise, men’s tolerance is higher, therefore they can consume larger amounts of alcohol than women because of their physicality as well as the higher concentration of water in their bodies
  • Certain medical conditions and their over-the-counter treatments
In addition, those with a family history of alcoholism are at greater risk for developing alcohol dependence and should consider their family history before consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol. Especially for those who have a history of addiction themselves, there truly is no amount of “drinking in moderation” that is considered “safe”, especially when in active addiction, alcohol use was paired with other dangerous drugs.  True, there are lots of reasons why people should avoid drinking under all circumstances or consume alcohol moderately. Regardless of your reasons, it is important to keep a watch on your patterns when it comes to drinking behavior and the possibilities that present a risk for developing an addiction.