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Can We Prevent Addiction in Our Family?

Addiction is never completely avoidable. Even loving, conscientious parents can fail to notice an issue that might lead to addiction. Sometimes circumstances are just beyond your control. There are, however, some ways to limit the chances that someone in your family will become addicted.

Set a good example. If you don’t want your kids to abuse drugs or alcohol, then don’t abuse drugs or alcohol yourself. Your behavior creates their standard for what’s normal. You may think you drink you drink responsibly, and statistically, that’s probably true, but if you frequently feel quite bad because of drugs or alcohol, consider whether you would want your kids to feel that way. If not, consider quitting because they will probably follow your example.

Educate your children early. You might think a child of seven or eight is too young to know about drugs, but some kids start experimenting with drugs around the age of nine or 10. The earlier a child starts experimenting with drugs, the more likely he is to become an addict. If you wait until he is 12 or 13, you’ve already missed your best shot. By then, he is more likely to listen to his friends and resent lectures from his parents. Although he seems young, he may have already started experimenting with drugs. Children of seven or eight will understand and take seriously an honest warning about the dangers of addictive drugs.

Be supportive. One of the best protections against drug abuse and addiction is to be supportive and involved in your child’s life. Take an interest in his activities and know who his friends are. Reinforce his good behavior with sincere appreciation. Remember that part of being supportive is setting firm boundaries and making sure there are fair but certain consequences for bad behavior. Having a supportive relationship with your child is good in itself and it will also let you respond more quickly and effectively if something goes wrong.

Know the signs of drug abuse. Don’t assume that just because you’ve tried to be a good parent and your child is a good kid that addiction can’t happen. Watch out for warning signs that your child is using drugs and deal with it right away. Warning signs may include sudden changes in behavior, especially aggressive behavior, sullenness, avoiding eye contact, or being secretive. He may suddenly have different friends. Paraphernalia, such as pipes, lighters, rolled up paper, or burnt foil is a definite sign.

Watch for signs of sexual or physical abuse. Addiction often begins with some kind of trauma or abuse. The addict feels intense shame and uses to relieve the pain. If your child is acting strange around someone or trying to avoid that person, it might be a sign of abuse. Your child is not likely to tell you about abuse because abusers often threaten their victims or make them believe the abuse is their own fault.

Be careful during transition periods. Pay special attention to your child after you move or after he has changed schools, including transfers or graduations. Entering middle school or high school can be stressful and children often feel pressure to fit in.

Addiction sometimes happens despite our best efforts. If someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at