5 Red Flags Your Loved One May Be Addicted

Serenity at Summit identifies five markers that may point out your loved one needs help from an addiction treatment center.

Alcohol and drug addiction are epidemics that are sweeping the nation. Regardless of age, gender, social class, race and any other status, drug addiction is a problem that touches them all. Chances are, you know someone that suffers from one of these problems. You also may wish you had known the signs they were headed for this situation, but just didn’t have the information that would have let you know when it was time to intervene and recommend an addiction treatment center.

For additional information on this subject read The Five Most Important Signs of Drug Addiction to Know.

Today, there is more information and statistics out there about drug addiction or alcohol abuse than ever before. Unfortunately, even with all this insight, the following statistics are still true:

  • 80% of the time doctors prescribe opioids, it’s a bad idea.
  • In the past few years, more people have died from overdoses (33,000), than from car accidents – including celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Prince.
  • There are 50 million Americans suffering from chronic pain now. Each of these people are at risk for potential addiction.
  • Since the 1980s nine out of 10 doctors have prescribed opioids for pain over other drug options.

If you want to know if someone you love is teetering on the edge of active drug addiction or alcoholism, or ensure they don’t reach this point in the future, read the information here. These signs will let you know if your loved one is on a one-way path to substance abuse.

  1. High levels of anxiety

When faced with a new challenge, how does your loved one react? A certain level of anxiety is to be expected and, in some situations, even serve as a motivating force. However, when the anxiety becomes extreme, the person may feel desperate for relief. Many addicts were once perfectionists who sought approval for any and everything they did. Feelings of extreme anxiety can push a person to seek relief from drugs or to engage in other destructive behavior.

Reducing anxiety can be challenging, but a step in the right direction when it comes to preventing substance use disorder down the road.

  1. Pharmaceutical frequency

How often does your loved one seek pain pills? Does it seem as though they are going to the doctor more and more often to replenish their supply? Have they recently changed doctors? Over time, opioid use will create a tolerance to the drugs in the body, which will diminish their effectiveness as a person becomes used to them. As a result, they need more and more to feel relief. Those who suffer chronic pain are especially susceptible to becoming chemically dependent. If a person is currently taking pain pills but seems to need more and more each month, then this is a definite sign of a substance use disorder.

  1. Co-morbidity

A person who is suffering from other conditions, in addition to chronic pain, may become more susceptible to poly-substance abuse. The conditions that most commonly spur this include osteoporosis and diabetes. However, it can be any other type of chronic condition they suffer from.

  1. Mental health

A person who suffers mental health issues may find himself or herself easily drawn into the clutches of opioids and other drugs. Regardless of if they are always angry, or just avoid emotions altogether, these problems can indicate a mental problem that needs to be addressed. In some cases, depression is the culprit. In an effort to overcome this depressed state, a person turns to drugs or even alcohol.

  1. Muscular health

When a person is unhealthy, overall, they may be more susceptible to becoming hooked on opioid drugs or to alcohol. They can find relief from pain and even feelings with these substances in their system. Alcoholism and opioid addiction is sneaky, many people may not even realize it has occurred until it is too late.

If you want to help someone you are worried may become addicted to drugs or alcohol, you have to watch for the signs of a problem early on. For someone suffering from the disease of addiction, go to their doctor’s appointments with them, If possible, and ask the doctor if it is possible to find relief with something other than extremely addictive opioids. Too many addicts become addicted without even realizing there is a problem. Being aware of the problem is the best way to minimize the risk of your loved one becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol. Once you recognize the signs you can help them take the next step and contact an addiction treatment center.

How To Tell Your Kids About Your Addiction

One of the hardest conversations you will ever have is telling your kids about your addiction, say the addiction treatment experts at Summit Behavioral Health.

Every conversation that you have about your addiction is likely to be difficult to get started. But the most challenging is probably the one you have with your children. You likely have the view that parents are supposed to be role models for their kids, guiding them though life’s obstacles, and doing so with a positive image. Substance abuse of drugs or alcohol crushes that ideal. It may feel like you are going to be letting your children down, not living up to what they need and deserve, if you tell them about your chemical or alcohol dependence. That isn’t true, though. There are some amazing benefits to talking with your kids about your alcohol and drug addiction, report the addiction treatment experts at Summit Behavioral Health.

For more reading about how to build trust and help your child understand your illness read: How to Help a Child Understand Addiction Through Empathy

What Works When Talking to Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol

Studies show that most kids are exposed to drugs or alcohol in middle school starting at about 12 years of age. This is a perilous time of life in the best of situations. Kids are entering adolescence and beginning to challenge common beliefs about their world. Parenting at this time in a child’s life is difficult at times, to say the least. However, it is also a great opportunity to build a long-lasting feeling of trust between you and your child.

Talking with your children about mistakes you have made in the past is hard, especially when you are telling them not to do what you’ve done. They’ve likely heard you say not to use drugs or alcohol already, but it’s simply been a matter of “because I said so.” [qz_share] Telling them the story of how you began using drugs or alcohol for fun, never intended to become addicted, and just how hard recovery is shows them the reality of drug and alcohol addiction and is a strong tool for prevention.[/qz_share]

Be Honest with Your Children

When you decide to have the conversation about your drug addiction with your children, being honest is the most important thing you can do. It is also important to remember to make sure that the conversation and details that you give are age-appropriate for your kids. But the earlier you can start, the better – for you and for them. Don’t allow fear to stand in the way of your honesty. Sharing your story with your children is building a strong foundation of awareness for them about substance abuse. You are able to tell them the truth because you have been through it.

By practicing honesty, you are giving your kids the gift of having someone in their corner to talk to when drugs or alcohol come up in their lives. They will feel more comfortable coming to you when they are presented with situations involving drugs and alcohol at school or with their friends.

Opening the Door for Communication

If you have teenagers, you know how difficult they can be. There are times that they seem to be all hormones and attitude, and it often seems like they are making it their mission to isolate themselves from everything you say or do. This is a crucial time to keep the door open for communication – especially about drugs and alcohol.

If you have shared your story of recovery with them already, be prepared that they may throw it right back in your face at this point in their lives. If they want to go out with their friends to a party and you say no, they may bring up your past. Remember to stay calm and remind them that you shared that with them in trust and to help them avoid making the mistakes that you did.

Talking with your kids about your past drug or alcohol problem use may be saving them from going through the hell of addiction by painting a clear picture for them of what it was like.

Benefits of Telling Your Kids About Your Addiction

Telling your kids about your past alcohol and chemical dependency is beneficial for them and for your recovery. For some people in recovery, the longer they are sober the easier it is to romanticize their days of using or drinking. Talking with your kids about it helps ground you in your recovery by keeping it fresh. When you talk to them about your past behavior as an addicted person  you are more likely to stay focused on your recovery.

Your kids will benefit too. Not only are you building a foundation of honesty and trust with them by telling your story, you are allowing them to share in your recovery. Hopefully they will learn from your mistakes, but if they don’t, and they choose to go down the same road you did, at least they will know that they will have love and support from you when they need it.

Explaining Alcohol and Drug Addiction to Your Children

Talking about your own story of addiction with your kids gives you the opportunity to explain drug and alcohol addiction from a medical standpoint. You can talk about the fact that it’s a disease that changes the brain and personalities. This lets your kids know that while you may have chosen to use drugs or alcohol in the beginning, you didn’t choose to become addicted, that it is something that happens regardless of your intentions. This helps reinforce the fact that even trying drugs or taking a drink once can be risky behavior for them.

Foster a Trusting and Hopeful Relationship

When to talk to your children about your past substance abuse is a choice only you can make. When you (and they) are ready, make sure that you give the subject the time that it deserves. Limit distractions while you are talking and be prepared to answer your kids’ questions. However, they may not know what to say or ask at first – it may take them a while to process what you’re telling them. It may be beneficial to have your spouse there as well, or a counselor if you have a difficult relationship with your children.

While talking to your kids about this subject may be difficult, you are ultimately fostering a relationship of trust and hope with them. Your sharing prompts them to share. And seeing you now, in recovery, shows them that even really hard things can be overcome- with the right help.

How to Deal With Opiate Addiction in Your Family

The self-centered behavior associated with addiction creates a tough struggle for families trying to deal with the problem states NJ addiction treatment center.

Most people fail to realize just how hard it can be to live around a drug user. When a person is in the throes of addiction, they will usually only care about getting their next fix. Over time, this type of self-centered behavior will affect a family greatly. When a family is dealing with a relative who is chemically dependent on opiates, their main concern is usually getting them the treatment they need. While treating opiate addiction is no easy task, the pain and struggle that a person may endure to overcome their addiction will be well worth it in the end. Serenity at Summit, a NJ addiction treatment center outlines below some of the things a family will need to remember when trying to deal with an opiate dependent person.

No Negative Enabling

Among the biggest problems a family dealing with opiate abuse will have is so-called “negative enabling.” If one family member is only concerned with keeping their loved one happy, they will usually give in and allow them to spend their money on the drugs they need. The only thing this type of enabling will do is lead to the addict eventually overdosing.

While saying no to your loved one can be hard, you will have to stand your ground. If a person is hooked on opiates, they will usually go through painful withdrawals if they do not get their daily dose. While it may be hard for you to see your loved one in such pain, you will need to refuse giving them money and instead offer to take them to treatment. For most families, the stress that comes with constantly worrying about the well-being of the opiate drug abuser can take a physical and emotional toll on them.

Outside Support is a Must

Some families try to keep the fact that they have a person with an addiction in their midst a secret. Trying to handle all of the pain and anguish that comes along with caring for someone with an addiction problem without any support can lead to a variety of additional problems. Rather than keeping this type of secret, families will need to reach out to friends and drug treatment professionals for help.

The professionals you reach out to will be able to offer advice on how to approach your family member about treatment. The last thing you want to do is make a mistake when the time comes for an intervention. Drug treatment professionals will be able to help you organize the intervention and make sure the right information is conveyed to the suffering drug addicted person in question.

Let the Substance Abuser Know Their Options

Often times, the family member with the opiate abuse problem will become so down and depressed that they don’t see a way out of their current situation. The family of the person with an opioid addiction will need to let them know what options they have and tell them they can change.

With all of the different treatment options out there, it will be easy for the person suffering from the disease of addiction to get the professional help they need. If he/she is willing, you will need to take them on a tour of a few different treatment facilities. Getting a treatment facility with an experienced medical staff is important due to the danger that comes with being weaned off of opiates. Medical professionals will know how to treat this addiction and can help the addicted person in your life rid themselves of the chemical dependencies they have.

Get the Whole Family Involved

Keeping the secret that there is someone suffering from addiction in the family can do a lot more harm than good. If certain members of your family aren’t aware of the situation, they may make things worse without meaning to. When the time comes to do an intervention, you will need to get as many loved ones rallying around your loved one as possible. By showing this type of support, you will be able to show him/her that there are people who want them to succeed in life. By keeping this secret, you will only alienate the people in your family and will be unable to put up a unified front when it comes to getting treatment for the person in the family who struggles with addiction.

Be Honest About the Risks

Rather than sugar coating the situation at hand, you will need to be honest with the drug user in your family about the risk they are in. Jail time and death are an inevitable when you are addicted to opiates. If the drug abuser is aware of the danger they are in, it may cause them to snap back into reality and get treatment.

When the time comes to get treatment for the opiate dependent person in your family, you will have to take the time to get the right facility chosen. With the right help, you will be able to get your loved one off of drugs and back on the road to recovery.

How To Spot A Drug Problem In a Loved One

The question “How Do I Know if My Loved One Has a Drug Problem?” is answered by the addiction treatment experts at NJ based Serenity at Summit.

Sometimes it’s hard to know if your loved one is using drugs. You may suspect that something unusual is going on, but not know exactly what it is. Some people are able to use recreational drugs without negative effects or consequences, but for some, dependence and addiction quickly become a problem – and that can lead to very negative consequences, up to and including death, explain the addiction treatment experts at Serenity at Summit in New Jersey.

If you suspect that your friend or family member is using drugs and may have a problem, know that there is help for recovery. Learning about drug abuse and addiction – how and why it develops, what it looks like, and just how powerful it is – will provide you with a better understanding and how to handle it.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic read our blog What Causes Addiction?

Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

People begin using drugs for different reasons. It may be curiosity, fitting in socially, dealing with stress or anxiety, improving performance athletically or at school or work, or coping with an underlying psychological issue, that cause someone to pick up a drug for the first time. Recreational use doesn’t always lead to dependence or addiction, and there isn’t a specific time frame or amount that causes someone to cross the line to addiction. It is more about the underlying reason for their use and the negative consequences that result from it. If a person’s drug use is causing problems in his or her life (work, school, home, or relationships), then he or she may have a drug problem or addiction.

Why Do Some Users Become Addicted and Others Don’t?

Just like other illnesses and diseases, how susceptible someone is to addiction can vary greatly from person to person. Genetics, environmental factors, and social circumstances all play a part in addiction. Risk factors that increase a person’s susceptibility include:

  • History of addiction in the family
  • History of trauma, abuse, or neglect
  • Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety
  • Use of drugs at a young age
  • How drugs are used – smoking and injecting drugs may increase the addictive potential
How Does Addiction Develop?

There is a gradual progression from not using drugs at all to addiction, it doesn’t happen overnight. The length of time that it takes depends on the person’s individual risk factors and the type of drug they are using. These are the phases of drug use, abuse, and addiction:

Sobriety – This period is before a person has ever tried the drug and has no issue staying away from it.

Recreational or social use – Drug use in this phase is typically moderate. The user sees drug use as something that is expected in certain situations or with certain people.

Negative consequences begin – Drug use begins to increase in this phase, and other aspects of life begin to be affected. It may be the time when work or school suffers, or relationships begin to deteriorate.

Reliance on the drug – In this phase, the user has become reliant on the drug for various reasons. The drug may be used for energy, to calm down, or for confidence. The drug use may become a way of dealing with depression, anxiety, or stress. During this phase, it is unlikely that a person will stop using unless they are able to find a healthier alternative to rely on.

Dependence or addiction – At some point, the user crosses a line, specific to him or her, to addiction (a physical and/or psychological dependence on) to the drug of choice. Once in this phase, it is extremely difficult for a person to stop using without help.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse and Addiction

Most drug abusers try to hide their symptoms and minimize their problem. If you think that your loved one may be abusing drugs, there are warning signs that you can look for.

Physical Signs of Drug Abuse
  • Red, bloodshot eyes, larger or smaller pupils
  • Sudden change in weight
  • Change in sleep patterns or appetite
  • Changed or reduced personal grooming habits
  • Unusual odors on breath, clothing, or body
  • Shaking, slurred speech, or motor impairment
Behavioral Signs of Drug Abuse
  • Being secretive – more than previously
  • Unexplained attendance issues at work or school
  • Unexplained need for money
  • Change in friends and hangouts
  • Getting into trouble, altercations, accidents, or legal issues
Psychological Signs of Drug Abuse
  • Change in personality
  • Mood swings, anger or irritability
  • Unexplained hyperactivity or agitation
  • Lethargy or lack of motivation
  • Appearing scared, anxious, or paranoid

Of course, symptoms are different depending on which substance is being abused, but the above gives you a starting point for what to look for in your loved one.

When Your Loved One Has a Drug Problem

Addiction doesn’t just affect the person who has the problem – it affects friends and family, as well. The most important thing that you can do in this situation is take care of yourself first. When you are dealing with your loved one, here are a couple of things you can do:

Talk to them. You can share your concerns, offer help and support – but do so without judgment. Tell your loved one exactly which behaviors have you concerned. And don’t wait! The sooner addiction is treated, the better. A person does not have to reach rock bottom to begin recovery.

Don’t blame yourself. You cannot control whether your loved one decides to seek help or not, it has to be his or her decision and responsibility. No matter what happens, don’t blame yourself for the addict’s behavior or decision regarding help.

There are also some things that you shouldn’t do when dealing with an addict. It’s important that they suffer the consequences of their actions – it’s essential to recovery.

  • Don’t try to negotiate, punish, bribe, or preach.
  • Don’t make excuses or try to cover up for the addict.
  • Don’t be a martyr by trying to use guilt with your loved one.
  • Don’t take on the addict’s responsibilities.
  • Don’t argue with your loved one when they are high.
  • Don’t feel guilty about the addict’s behavior.

Getting Help

Many people who have a drug addiction don’t reach out for help on their own. Loved ones may need to step in and help them seek help in order to begin the recovery process. This isn’t usually an easy thing to do. Some users will deny that they have a problem, others may know they have a problem, but not want to go to treatment for various reasons – fear, cost, or thinking they can stop on their own.

Once they do make the decision to give treatment a try, they will need to decide which type of program to enter, inpatient or outpatient.

Outpatient treatment is typically classes, therapy, group sessions that discuss coping skills and relapse prevention, and addiction education. There are usually several sessions each week that last a few hours. This type of treatment allows patients the flexibility to maintain their lives outside of treatment.

Inpatient, or residential, treatment requires that patients stay at the treatment facility for the length of their treatment. Inpatient treatment is preferred by patients who want to focus on their recovery without temptations and distractions. This type of treatment provides the same type of classes and support as outpatient treatment, but on a more intensive basis.

If you think that your loved one has a drug problem, we can offer you support and help with how to proceed. Call the addiction treatment experts today at Serenity at Summit for help with your loved one’s recovery.

Help Your Clients Manage Holiday Stress To Avoid Alcohol Abuse

Maria Ulmer New Jersey Alcohol Addiction Center Chief Clinical Officer Offers Clients Tips To Manage the Stress of the Holidays

The holidays mean time spent with family that often stirs up hidden emotions for those in early recovery causing great potential for alcohol abuse.

The holidays can be filled with mixed emotions for those in early recovery.  There’s often a sense of excitement about experiencing the joy of the season and gratitude to be able to share this special time with those close to us.  And yet many also experience feelings of stress and anxiety about family expectations and managing the triggers related to celebrating the holidays.  During this time, addiction treatment professionals can support clients in early recovery with utilizing tools to aid in managing potential emotional and environmental stressors.  In working to treat individuals in early recovery,  it is especially important to be mindful of these emotional states and offer a variety of ways to build and strengthen individual’s coping skills to help them be able to better handle both the joy and the stress of this time of year.  Here are some strategies to help you guide your recovering clients through the holidays:

Manage Holiday Stress To Avoid Alcohol Abuse

  • Encourage the development of a plan to help guide the activities around your client’s celebrating.  It is helpful to schedule fun and enjoyable activities that involve healthy and supportive people such as watching a funny movie, having coffee with a friend, or playing a board game.  Limiting idle time can be an effective way to avoid falling back into old, maladaptive behaviors.
  • Discuss the importance of maintaining the normalcy of a regular routine.  That involves attending twelve-step meetings, attending work/school, eating regular meals, sleeping and exercising.  Check in with your client about the activities of daily living that help them to feel healthy and grounded.
  • Help your client to identify a support system whom they can ask for help from during the holidays.  In early recovery, it can be challenging to face family, friends and other relationships that may have been negatively impacted by their addictive behaviors.   In addition, discerning which relationships are healthy and which are unhealthy can be difficult to assess in early recovery.  A thorough evaluation of these relationships in counseling can assist individuals in gaining insight and understanding to help them make healthy decisions regarding their support system.  Mustering the courage to ask for help can sometimes be hard to do, but letting family and friends know how they can help will provide the support necessary when your client needs it most during the holidays.
  • Research local twelve-step meetings days/times for the areas that your client will be visiting.  Many recovery clubhouses and twelve-step meetings often have a designated holiday schedule consisting of hourly meetings and special celebrations for the recovery community.
  • Discuss the importance of taking time to relax.  Simple ways to slow down can be done by reading a book, meditating, listening to soothing music – intentionally spending time just quieting the mind from all the hustle and bustle of the holidays can help those in early recovery avoid becoming overwhelmed and stressed.
  • Explore the use of journaling with your client.  Journaling can be structured with goals to address the stressors of the day or difficult feelings that were experienced.  But journaling can also be free-flowing with focus on gratitude for life’s gifts and even prayer.  Whether it’s a gratitude list, a prayer of thanks, or reflection of the day’s events, utilizing a journal should be encouraged for recovering individuals to help them slow down and reflect on their strengths to manage life’s challenges.
  • Address potential triggers related to risky People – Places – Things that your client may be exposed to over the holidays.  Helping your clients to recognize which triggers pose a risk can lead to the development of healthy decision making and healthy coping skills.  With this gained insight, one can choose to avoid these triggers altogether or a safety plan can be created in the counseling session that identifies steps to manage these triggers and aid in relapse prevention. Examples of such steps include limiting the amount of time spent in high-stress situations or bringing a supportive friend along to an event.
  • Promote reframing negative thoughts with positive affirmations in your counseling sessions.   Individuals in early recovery often struggle with negative thoughts and diminished self-confidence.   Focusing on happy, healthy thoughts will lead to keeping a rational perspective of themselves and the world around them which can strengthen self-confidence to better be able to cope with stress.  Work with your client’s cognitions to build mindfulness of negative self-talk and practice thought-stopping exercises to minimize the power of those negative messages.
  • Educate your client about boundaries and practice defining healthy boundaries in their relationships.  Remind your client that it’s ok to say no.  For when they over-extend themselves or do too much for others, they often compromise themselves and their recovery needs.  Setting healthy boundaries and maintaining a balanced lifestyle are important components of long-term recovery.
  • Teach your client to prioritize self-care through being diligent in maintaining their daily steps of wellness such as:  Taking a shower/bath, meal planning, staying hydrated, physical activity or exercise, getting a haircut or nails done, or taking medication/supplements as prescribed.

The stress of the holidays may be unavoidable, but by providing a toolbox filled with a variety of therapeutic tools, your clients can find healthy ways to manage the stress without compromising their recovery. As an addiction treatment provider, you have an amazing opportunity to support your clients in gaining the strength and ability to manage these holiday stressors and empower them to have the confidence to manage life on life’s terms.

Does Drug Addiction Have To Lead To Divorce?

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint just how many marriages fail due to drug addiction, substance abuse is a leading factor in divorce cases across the country.

If you struggle with addiction or substance abuse, you already know that drug addiction has a way of creeping into every corner of your life. From performance at work to your relationships with your children, addiction can influence your emotions and the way you react to everyday stressors. It’s no surprise, then, that addiction can also take a serious toll on a marriage.

Addiction also comes in many forms. Whether you have difficulties with alcohol, prescription drugs, cigarettes, or some other substance, dependency can wreak havoc on relationships. In many cases, former spouses of addicts say they left the relationship because they grew tired of shouldering responsibility for their ex’s behavior. After years or even decades of helping their spouse conceal their addiction from employers, kids, and family members, they experience a version of “caregiver fatigue,” in which the constant demands of looking after another person results in depression, burnout, and even physiological symptoms.

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint just how many marriages fail due to addiction, substance abuse is a leading factor in divorce cases across the country.

If you are an addict, you may worry that your addiction will ultimately spell doom for your marriage. If you are committed to overcoming your addiction, however, there is no reason why your marriage can’t recover, as well.

Find the Good in Your Marriage

Chances are, you married your spouse because you fell in love. Likewise, he or she says “I do” because there was something special about you, too. You began a life together because you didn’t want to be apart. It’s true that people change over time, and that challenges can pose hurdles in any marriage, but you entered into a partnership because you cared deeply about each other.

If your addiction has driven a wedge between you, start by focusing on what is still good in your marriage. Maybe you have young children who bring you joy. Perhaps you built your dream home together. If you enjoyed traveling earlier in your relationship, make an attempt to start visiting new places together again. Whatever binds you together in your marriage, spend more time dwelling on the positives and less time and energy focusing on what has gone wrong.

Getting Help Is the First Step

At the same time, you can’t simply sweep your troubles under a rug. Getting professional help is a crucial part of salvaging your marriage and reclaiming your physical and mental health. Your substance abuse treatment plan should incorporate your spouse, as well as counseling and assistance for your spouse and your marriage.

Don’t Use Divorce as a Threat

In some cases, individuals with addiction fear that their spouses will leave them because of their addiction. In these situations, it can be tempting to threaten to leave first, or to file for divorce as a way of leveraging custody of children or control of property. Likewise, spouses of addicts sometimes use divorce as a threat to coerce their partner into behaving a certain way or stopping specific behaviors. Over time, these threats can erode trust in a marriage.

Are You Struggling with Addiction? Call to Get Help Today

Addiction doesn’t have to dominate your life or your marriage. Help is available. Call Serenity at Summit today to start on a path toward a lasting recovery.

 

How To Stop Enabling Addicts

Caring for an addict is difficult, but the line between caring and enabling can be a fine one that’s easy to cross. Family members or friends serving as caregivers or support systems have a personal connection to the addict, which can sometimes make it difficult to provide appropriate support and care during the addiction recovery process. When caregivers don’t allow addicts to experience the consequences of addiction, it can lead to enabling.

Signs Of Enabling An Addict

Common behaviors of enabling include:

  • Lending the Addict Money – This behavior tempts the addict to spend money on addictive substances or alcohol.
  • Cutting Slack When the Addict Regresses – Addiction recovery is difficult. If an addict regresses during the process, the support system should encourage the addict to continue the process — no matter the obstacles or failures.
  • Taking Care of the Addict’s Responsibilities – Caregivers may feel pressure from responsibilities, such as paying bills or caring for children, which are handled to avoid stressing the addict.
  • Making Excuses for the Addict’s Bad Behaviors – Caregivers sometimes make excuses to employers, teachers, family, or friends for addiction-related issues, such as absenteeism from work or school. Illness is a common excuse.
  • Bailing the Addict Out of Jail – This also applies to financial issues or other situations that the addict may encounter. This behavior can lead to the addict becoming codependent.

These behaviors can mean the difference between caring for an addict and catering to that person’s addiction. Caregivers must be aware of these behaviors to avoid inhibiting the addict’s recovery.

Why Enabling Is So Harmful

Addiction is an unpredictable thing. It can turn the person you know and love into a complete stranger. Dependency on substances can alter an addict’s behavior and personality. Some addicts will do almost anything to satisfy their addictions.

The reason enabling is so harmful to the recovery process lies with the addict. Enabling tempts the addict and may result in codependency, which leads to regression. This is why a different approach is needed.

How To Stop Enabling Behavior

It’s not easy to stop enabling. This can come from a fear of retaliation or of having to face the consequences of being assertive. But facing these fears is the best way to help addiction recovery. The short-term pain is more bearable than the long-term misery that enabling creates.

Set Goals To Help

You may need to set goals for yourself to stop enabling the addict. When you set these goals, commit to the purpose. According to Alternatives in Treatment, you should take these steps to stop enabling behaviors:

  • Don’t Fear – Don’t be afraid of the outcomes when standing your ground.
  • Be Safe – An addiction rests solely on the addict — nobody else. Allowing a recovering addict to drive you or your loved ones can be potentially dangerous.
  • Be Clear – Explain your boundaries, and be assertive when the addict tries to push or cross them.
  • Plan – Plan for unreliability. When you stop enabling, an addict’s behavior can become unpredictable.
  • Don’t Concede – Don’t give into threats or manipulation.

You are there to help. Stick to your plan and your boundaries. It might be painful at first, but this is the best way to ensure that the one you care about will recover from addiction.

How To Help Them To Get On The Right Path

There are a few ways you can help an addict along the road to recovery. Set up an intervention to show the addict that people care and are there to show support for the person’s recovery. This may encourage the addict to enroll in a rehab program.

Educate yourself. According to Futures Palm Beach, you should learn how it feels to be dependent on alcohol or any other addictive substance. This shows the addict that you’re taking a keen interest in helping him or her recover.

When the addiction is severe, rehab is the best route to begin the recovery process. In rehab, the recovering addict receives treatments and is far from any enabling process.

When you stop enabling, it doesn’t mean that you cut your ties with the addict. Keep your boundaries intact and be encouraging. The desire to recover must be a decision made by the addict — and you’re there to encourage that desire.


Contact Summit Behavioral Health with any question or concerns you have about enabling. We can help you and your loved one begin the recovery process.

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Helping A Child Understand Addiction Through Empathy

Empathy is a unique characteristic only found in humans, one that serves as the foundation for caring for others and sustaining strong relationships. Empathy is the ability to consider another’s perspective or to methaphorically walk in another’s shoes.

By developing the skill to be compassionate toward others, family members become better equipped to deal with the many of challenges of a loved one struggling with addiction. For children, the ability to have empathy can help put the problem of addiction into perspective and potentially minimize the negative impact of addiction on their future.

Although salespeople, politicians, marketers and even actors are all skilled at identifying the perspectives of others, this doesn’t mean that they actually care about others. In fact, sociopaths, such as con men and other criminals, are experts in identifying weaknesses in others and exploiting them to their advantage. So, how can a parent foster empathy in a child, particularly when there are family members struggling with addiction?

Ways To Help Your Child Understand Addiction Through Empathy

The following items are a few guidelines that can help draw out this most human of traits.

Model Empathy

Like with many other skills, children learn empathy from example. When we demonstrate empathy, children develop greater trust and attachment. It’s these very attachments that propel children to want to emulate empathetic behavior.

It’s also important to show empathy toward others, regardless of their social status. By demonstrating that the server, gardener or family member with addiction deserves the same level of respect as a wealthy neighbor or boss, you can teach, by example, a very important lesson that we all deserve respect and empathy.

Make Caring A Priority

Caring for others shouldn’t be a secondary issue. Rather, it should be the driver of how relationships are managed. Consider reminding children daily to remember the importance of caring for others, and stress the reality that the world doesn’t revolve around them. This more outwardly focused perspective can not only help a child deal with family members who have addiction, but it may also prevent them from developing addiction in the future.

Practice Empathy

Empathy isn’t just a concept. It needs to be carried out in our daily lives. Acts of giving time, talent and treasure to others who are less fortunate can stress the importance of helping other people and can instill good habits of practicing empathy daily.

Teach Understanding

Encourage children to develop an understanding of those who are struggling, such as friends or family members with addiction. Help them to look at others’ perspectives and to develop ways to comfort those who are struggling.

Learn To Identify Feelings

Often children can have a difficult time understanding their feelings towards a difficult situation or person. They may feel frustration, sadness or anger that blocks their empathy. By encouraging children to express and manage their feelings, you help them be better positioned to resolve conflicts and develop a level of self-control that can lead to greater empathy.

If A Loved One Is Struggling With Addiction?

Sadly, addiction can tear apart a family. If you have a family member who is struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, don’t wait for the situation to get worse. It will! Call us now to speak with an addiction specialist.

Help! My Child Is Addicted To Drugs And I Am Afraid For Her Life

Throughout school, my oldest daughter “Suzy” was an A student, on the honor roll and participating in student council. She was the type of kid who wanted to get her homework completed in study hall. She turned her book reports in before they were due, and went to bed early every night. She tended to be a bit of a worrier and a perfectionist but that never seemed to be too much of a problem.

My youngest daughter was more of a tomboy. She did not do as well in school and absolutely hated homework.  It was a nightly battle to get her to complete her assignments. As a single mom with two girls, I worried more about her than I did my older daughter.

Unhappiness Spawns The Beginnings Of Drug And Alcohol Abuse

Yet, something happened halfway through high school. Suzy was unhappy with some of her teachers and said she wanted to make a change to a more “creative” environment. After a lot of soul searching and a few heated discussions, I reluctantly agreed to allow her to switch schools. She said, “If I really loved her, I would trust her to make the right choices.” Suzy went from a very structured environment with a lot of honors classes to an open campus concept (almost like a small college) which allowed the students a tremendous amount of freedom.

The beginning of her junior year went ok, but I noticed her grades were beginning to slip. Suzy started to fall behind in her classes, which was something that had never happened before. On a few occasions, she would oversleep and tell me she wasn’t feeling well and needed to stay home from school.

“Since she had always been the perfect child, I justified in my mind that she was just having a hard time adjusting to her new school.”

A Death In The Family Fuels Addiction

Midway through her junior year, Suzy’s grandfather died after a long battle with cancer. He had always enjoyed a special relationship with Suzy, and I know she counted on him after my husband and I divorced when Suzy was nine.  You never really plan for someone to die, but dad had been ill for such a long time, I thought we were more or less prepared for his passing.

“Boy was I wrong.”

At the reception after the funeral, I had the feeling that Suzy and a few of her new friends might be sneaking drinks. However, there was so much happening, I just didn’t have time to keep track of her. That is until my sister came up to me and whispered loudly, “You need to go out to the front yard RIGHT NOW!”

I walked outside and there was my Suzy, doubled over on the lawn vomiting. I thought to myself, this doesn’t happen from sneaking just one or two beers. I wanted to throttle her and hold her all at the same time. I knew she missed her grandfather terribly, but seeing my Suzy like that was a sight so shocking I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was crying, babbling and making no sense at all. Her dress was completely ruined, and the guests were coming to see what all the commotion was about. I immediately wrapped Suzy up in my coat, walked her to my car and left my father’s reception as fast as I could.

“…unfortunately, it was only the beginning…”

I wish I could tell you that the funeral scene was an aberration brought on by emotional stress, and it never happened again, but unfortunately, it was only the beginning. When she woke up the next day, she didn’t remember anything. I later learned that these are called blackouts. It turns out her new friends gave her some pills to help her deal with the anxiety of losing her grandfather. When she mixed those pills with alcohol, she was in way over her head.

The next two years proved to be a daily nightmare. Suzy’s drinking and drug use went from non-existent to an everyday occurrence in a matter of months. Her school work suffered terribly. She skipped classes and barely managed to pass her classes. I tried to get her father involved, but he had started a new family with his second wife. I wasn’t sure if he just didn’t have time to address the issue, or if he simply didn’t care.

It Was Time To Get Addiction Treatment

No longer could I manage the situation on my own. I was overwhelmed, and Suzy was sinking fast. After many lies and broken promises, I got tough and knew I needed to get her professional help. We sought an outpatient teen rehab program that provided her with a personalized treatment program. This was her start to sobriety. Today, she has the foundation for long-term recovery and is focused on her future without drugs and alcohol. I am forever grateful for the program and for getting my daughter back.

Do You Have A Teen Who Is Struggling With Addiction?

Serenity at Summit offers a comprehensive outpatient teen rehab program that will work with you and your child. We will focus on your teen’s needs and goals to create a customized treatment plan that will work best for them.

With a professional treatment program, your child can overcome their addiction and regain their future.


Don’t wait another painful day, call our caring and supportive staff right now.

Custom Teen Rehab Program

How To Help A Heroin Addict Before They Hit Rock Bottom

The United States is facing a growing epidemic of heroin addiction. Currently, the number two cause of addiction in the country is prescription opioid painkillers which often leads to heroin addiction. More than 4 million Americans age 12 or older have used heroin, and nearly 25% become dependent on it.

The Dangers Of Hitting Rock Bottom

With such startling statistics, it’s a sad reality that many families are struggling with how to help a loved one who has succumbed to heroin addiction. Not only does heroin cause a powerful physical dependence, it also produces severe side effects that can be dangerous if they are not properly managed.

There is also the very real risk of drug overdose. More than 60% of all drug overdose deaths are due to opioids, including heroin. From 2000 to 2014, nearly half a million individuals died from drug overdoses, with 78 Americans dying each day from an opioid overdose.

Still, it’s a common philosophy that no one can help a heroin addict until they want help. While there is some truth to this statement, the reality is that often rock bottom means overdose and even death when it comes to heroin abuse. Simply waiting for a loved one to ask for help is not enough.

Is Your Loved One Addicted To Heroin?

Heroin addicts notoriously hide their problem and can often go extended periods of time before their secret is uncovered by others. If you suspect that there is a problem, you will want to look for the following telltale signs of heroin addiction:

  • Small pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Sluggish reflexes
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Needle or “track” marks from injecting the drug
  • Mood swings
  • Missing money or valuables
  • Neglected appearance
  • Unexplained weight loss

What Should You Do To Help A Heroin Addict?

Build A Door-Help A Heroin AddictIf you are seeking answers on how to help your loved one with an addiction to heroin, it’s important to understand that in addition to them being addicted, they are likely continuing to use the drug because they fear facing loved ones and recovery as well as the onset of withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, it’s important to avoid negative language, blame or judgment.

Heroin addiction is a disease of isolation, and to provide useful help, you need to be able to communicate with your loved one without pushing them away further. Most likely they want help and will be far more open to obtaining treatment if they feel like they are receiving encouragement in a caring and supportive manner.

In 2014, more than 100,000 individuals were admitted to treatment facilities for heroin use. Recovery can be successful with heroin detox and addiction treatment. One of the most effective approaches to overcoming heroin addiction is to start with a customized, medical detox program that includes doctor-supervised, monitored medications to help reduce the painful and often times dangerous withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping heroin use. A medically supervised program is a much safer and comfortable detoxification experience for your loved on.

When this therapy is combined with behavioral therapy and holistic treatments, it is possible to regain sobriety and sustain long-term recovery. Often behavioral therapy takes place in both one-on-one sessions and group-settings.

Call For Help Today

Do you have a loved one who is battling heroin addiction? The problem isn’t going to disappear on its own. Heroin addiction is a progressive disease that unfortunately often ends in overdose and death. Seeing the signs of heroin addiction in a loved one is troublesome, but you don’t have to deal with addiction alone.


Call now to learn about what options are available. Our addiction specialists can answer your questions and ease your concerns. Freedom from addiction is possible with customized, holistic treatment.

Learn More About Our Customized Heroin Treatment Program

4 Tips To Cope When A Loved One Is An Alcoholic

More than 43 percent of Americans have one or more family members struggling with alcoholism. That’s a staggering number! An even greater number have a friend or a significant other who struggles with alcohol. The reality is that the majority of us have at least one person in our life who has a problem with alcohol. While it’s certainly common, many people do not have the skill set to appropriately cope with a loved one who has alcoholism.

The following are a few strategies to help minimize the stress, anxiety and conflict which often go hand-in-hand with dealing with an alcoholic friend or family member.

Tips To Cope When A Loved One Is An Alcoholic


1. Don’t Play The Blame Game

It’s a common family dynamic to place blame when a family member develops an addiction. Yes, it’s easy to point fingers at those who played a role in the problem. However, the reality is that there is never one sole cause for an addiction to develop. Often, it’s a combination of environmental, hereditary and emotional factors.

Advice: Rather than spend time determining who is to blame, it’s wiser to work together to get help for the loved one who is struggling with the problem.

2. Learn The Difference Between Help And Enabling

It is an incredible symbol of love and support to help guide and encourage a loved one to get help for an alcohol problem. Yet, the act of providing money, shelter, food, legal help or other forms of support that only perpetuate the addiction is not a healthy, productive way to offer help. In fact, it can make the problem worse by delaying the start of addiction treatment.

Advice: Set clear boundaries so that the alcoholic in your life clearly understands how you can help if they are open to getting treatment and what you are unwilling to do until they get the help they need.

3. Join A Support Group

Dealing with an alcoholic is not something to struggle with alone. It can be draining, frustrating and incredibly upsetting. This is specifically why support groups such as Al-Anon were established. In a group setting, you’ll not only gain the advantage of hearing how others are coping with problems that are similar to those you are facing, you’ll also have the opportunity to open up and vent your personal challenges.

Advice: Check out a few different groups to find one where you feel most at home. You can search for an Al-Anon support group near you, here.

5. Take Care Of Yourself

Relaxing On Hike-Take Care Of Yourself

It can seem all encompassing to care for an alcoholic. However, you need to ensure your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health are kept strong so that you can weather through this difficult time. Make it a point to get regular exercise, restorative sleep, healthy meals and downtime with friends who are positive and upbeat. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better positioned to manage the day-to-day challenges of dealing with an alcoholic.

Advice: Set aside time each day for self-care and be proud of taking this very healthy action. It shouldn’t take long for you to notice a positive change within yourself.

Are They Ready To Get Help?

Do you have a loved one who is struggling with alcoholism? The time for alcohol addiction treatment is now. With each day, their addiction gets worse. Serenity at Summit will treat your loved one with the respect and care that they deserve.


Call now to learn how to get your loved one the help they need. Our knowledgeable and caring addictions specialists will be the help that you and your loved one so desperately need.

Find Out How To Help An Addict Without Enabling

Part 2: How To LOVE An Addict Without Enabling

Continued from: Part 1: How To HELP An Addict Without Enabling

In “Part 1: How to HELP an Addict without Enabling,” you learned strategies to help a loved one who is struggling with addiction without enabling them. In this final part of this two-part series, you’ll learn how you can love an addict in a healthy, productive way that does not involve enablement.

Anyone who has dealt with a spouse, family member, boyfriend or girlfriend who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, knows that it can be a heart-wrenching experience. It’s natural to have a wide range of emotions that range from profound sadness to extreme anger and disappointment. Of course, there’s almost always an intense desire to make the situation better. Unfortunately, when help turns into enabling, destructive behavior, the relationship can suffer tremendously while also extending and worsening the addiction. The good news is that there are strategies that are both healthy and beneficial in getting the individual the treatment they need.

Ways To Love Without Enabling

The following are important techniques to love someone who is struggling with addiction without enabling them. Discover also, how this can benefit you.

Believe Actions, Not Words

It’s an unfortunate reality that addicts lie when they feel that drugs or alcohol are essential to survival. In the throes of addiction, many will choose their substance of choice over a loved one. Don’t take it personally! Addicts will use deception and manipulation to sustain their habit. One of the ways to protect yourself is to realize that you will be lied to by your addicted loved one. Oftentimes, an addict will promise to quit, go to rehab, get help or go to meetings. Unless you see actual proof, don’t believe them.

One of the most effective ways to not enable an addict is to tune out the lies and insist on seeing solid proof of proactive steps toward recovery. Don’t engage in fights, but also, don’t be gullible and turn a blind eye to the problem. By being strong in these areas, it will prevent your loved one from taking advantage of you and can prevent stress and heartache.

Set Clear Boundaries

Your role is to hold your ground during this difficult time. An addict may engage in fights, withhold love, tell lies and manipulate situations to get what they want. Start by setting clear boundaries, just as you would with a child. And the most important boundary is that the individual needs to quit under any circumstance.

Help By Not Helping

Don’t be tempted to contribute money or resources. One of the most detrimental thing you can do is to encourage your loved one by giving anything other than support in getting them the treatment they need. This may be extremely tough, but in the long run not enabling, but positively supporting them will benefit both parties.

Are you an enabler? Click here to find out now.

Support Your Loved One In Getting Help

At Summit Behavioral Health, we believe there is hope in recovery for both the addict and his or her loved ones. Our family programs include family therapy, education and counseling. Call now to learn more about our individualized treatment programs.


You are not alone in this fight. Call our caring and supportive addiction treatment specialists now.

The Next Step To Helping An Addict Who Wants It

Part 1: How To HELP An Addict Without Enabling

It’s a classic dichotomy. Help the addict and prolong the addiction or step back and allow the addict to fall and hit bottom. This is the position that many individuals find themselves in when dealing with a loved one who is struggling with addiction. The good news is there are strategies for helping an addict that don’t involve enabling or turning a blind eye to the problem.

Ways To Help Without Enabling

The following are key ways to truly help someone who is struggling with addiction without enabling them or their addiction.

Understand The Difference Between Help And Enablement

The heart of enabling is taking action that allows the addict to continue in their addiction. This could be by providing money, shelter, food, legal help or even by making excuses or lying on their behalf. Many times, family members feel obligated to come to the assistance of a loved one when they need help. However, when it comes to an addict, the type of help given can potentially extend their problem and prevent them from getting the true assistance that they need.

Make healthier decisions by taking notice of the issues and holding your loved one accountable. Stick to your word and only assist them if it’s related to helping them actually better their lives and enter treatment.

Take The Right Approach To Help An Addicted Loved One

Positive help often includes directing the addict toward professional treatment. Of course, not every addict is enthusiastic about embracing recovery. When this is the case, one of the most effective ways to love an addict is to allow and help them to discover the impact and repercussions of their actions and the ramifications of their disease.

It’s not easy while in the midst of a loved one’s addiction, but you must step back and gain perspective on the problem. Joining a program like Al-Anon can be particularly helpful for those who are dealing with loved ones with addiction problems. In meetings, topics are discussed specifically pertaining to addiction and enabling.

Set Up An Intervention

One positive way to help an addict without enabling is to address their problem directly, although without blame, in the form of an intervention. While this form of confronting the problem can be difficult and uncomfortable, it’s an opportunity for loved ones to be completely honest with the addict, and oftentimes, the individual will agree to go directly into treatment. Make sure to research treatment facilities and have several options lined up prior to the intervention, to facilitate an easy and prompt transition. Seeking the help of a professional interventionist can often be more effective in cases where the addict has refused treatment in the past or where there’s minimal family support or volatile moods or relationships.

Click here to see the signs to know when it’s time for an intervention.

Getting Help For Your Addicted Loved One

Whether the right approach is to have a heart-to-heart discussion, step back from the problem or stage an intervention, it’s important to find an addiction treatment provider that offers the best chance of long-term recovery. At Summit Behavioral Health, we are here to help your loved one on their journey of recovery. Call us now to learn more.

Part 2: Coming Soon

How To Help A Drug Addict Who Wants Help – The Next Step

Do you have a loved one who is struggling with drug addiction? The first step is determining their level of interest in getting help for their problem. If they are positive and open about the possibility of embracing treatment, this is a good sign. Because drugs can hijack the brain and leave an addict powerless to making rational decisions, the fact that an addict may understand they have a problem is very promising.

Tips On How You Can Help An Addict

The following are important ways that you can help an addict in your life get the treatment they need.

Educate Yourself And Discuss Treatment Options

If they are willing to discuss their problem, it’s wise to educate yourself on addiction and the needs of someone who is addicted to drugs. Once you feel comfortable discussing the topic, you will need to voice your concerns and discuss treatment options. It may be as simple as researching facilities, checking insurance coverage and determining the best option. A one-on-one conversation can be enough to get the ball rolling.

If Necessary, Plan An Intervention

Holding Hands-Help Your Drug Addict Loved OneHowever, it may be necessary to have an intervention to help your loved one better understand their problem and the consequences of continuing to use drugs.

An intervention should be attended by those close to the individual who are willing to help and support them in their recovery.

A professional interventionist can also help evaluate the situation, provide guidance and ensure the process of getting the individual to treatment happens smoothly to enable all involved to start healing.

What If They Turn Down Help For Their Drug Addiction?

It’s quite common for drug addicts to admit they have a problem but be unwilling to get help. This can be a very frustrating situation for loved ones who are focused on offering help. It’s important to know that not every addict will agree to treatment or will be able to stay sober once they get help.

One of the most important tips for family members who have a loved one struggling with addiction is to remember that addiction is a chronic disease that often results in relapse. Seek professional help and guidance for family support.

What Next?

With a loved one addicted to drugs, time is of the essence. Drug addiction rarely gets better on its own. In fact, it almost always becomes worse, making recovery more difficult to treat. At Serenity at Summit, we are here to help your loved one take the first step in recovery. Call now to speak with an addiction specialist.


We are here to help you find healthy ways to support your addicted loved one.

Ways To Support An Alcoholic

A Parents’ Guide For Understanding Teens And Marijuana

As more states across the U.S. are legalizing marijuana – for medical and/or recreational purposes – and as more teens are turning to pot in favor of cigarettes, the landscape has changed for parents who are trying to discourage their teenage children from smoking or eating the herbal drug.

So, since many states are legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, does that mean the substance is harmless, even for teenagers? Not exactly.

If you’re trying to keep your child from using marijuana, whether for behavioral purposes or because it might lead to experimentation with other substances, it’s certainly a different ballgame today than when you were their age. National sentiment has changed, laws have changed and behaviors related to teen drug use have changed.

With all of these factors in mind, parents don’t have it easy when it comes to their teens and marijuana use, either as a proactive measure or to see if there’s already a problem afoot. It’s a difficult, sometimes uncomfortable subject, but if approached and conducted properly, the whole family should be in a more stable place.

This is why we’ve created a guide for you, the parent, to talk to your teenage son or daughter about marijuana use. You may find many of the methods below to be helpful even with talking to your teens about other subjects they may not like talking about, such as schoolwork, relationships, etc. Use this guide to become more informed on the subject of teen marijuana use and to learn how to better facilitate discussions with your loved one.

Facts About Teen Marijuana Use

Teenage Boy Holding Joint - Summit Behavioral Health

Before getting into how you should talk with your teenager about marijuana, we should delve into a few facts about the reality of the drug. While studies are constantly released on the subject and they sometimes contradict each other, what we can conclude is that marijuana isn’t as harmful as it was widely considered just a few decades ago.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that marijuana is completely benign for teens to use, or even that’s it’s legal to use. States that have legalized the drug recreationally still don’t let you purchase it until the age of 21, just like alcohol. Some teens are eligible to use it for medicinal purposes, if approved by the state, but for the most part, it remains illegal for teens to possess or consume.

The side effects of marijuana are different for all people, but some common short-term symptoms of the substance are:

  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss and decreased retention
  • Tiredness and lethargy
  • Trouble judging distances
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Irritated lungs, including coughing or wheezing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Trouble finishing thoughts or solving problems
  • Poor decision making
  • Unsafe sexual behaviors

Teenage Girl Walking At Sunset - Summit Behavioral HealthThe effects of marijuana on teens depends on the potency of the drug, which can vary drastically from strain to strain, so it’s never certain how a single use of the drug is going to affect a teen. In most cases, teens will be interacting with marijuana that is unregulated, meaning there’s a chance it will be laced with another harmful substance or simply a stronger strain than what would be found in licensed dispensaries. Stronger strains of marijuana can increase the severity of some of the symptoms listed above.

Another factor to keep in mind is that, according to almost all studies, everyone’s brain is still developing until they reach the age of about 25. Extended substance use can disrupt the normal development of the brain. Marijuana is not the only substance implicated in this; alcohol, caffeine and, of course, harder substances are all capable of slowing one’s cognitive development.

Few researchers would agree that individuals can develop a chemical addiction to marijuana, although many observational studies have concluded that people can became psychologically or emotionally dependent on the substance.

So, you may hear advocates say that teen marijuana addiction is not an issue, but that’s not entirely true. If one has become a daily user of marijuana, it’s not an easy task to stop using it abruptly. Cutting it out of one’s daily routine can be just as difficult as dropping other elements of that routine, especially ones that have been in effect for years. This is why most drug rehabilitation centers across the country offer some form of “marijuana treatment” in order to break users’ dependence on the substance.

Long term marijuana use by teens has side effects including:

  • Respiratory problems (such as chronic cough or bronchitis)
  • Difficulties with physical activity
  • Sleeping issues
  • Decreased motivation or interest
  • A slight drop in IQ
  • Memory recall difficulties
  • Mental health issues (such as depression, anxiety and psychosis), especially when not under the influence
  • Increased risk of side effects from medication for mental health conditions

Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana

Teenage Girl Walking At Sunset - Summit Behavioral HealthMany different activities can impair one’s driving, such as being under the influence of alcohol or constantly looking at a smartphone. Using marijuana prior to or during driving is certainly one of those dangerous factors, as well. Marijuana usually slows down the user’s perception of depth, time, motion and sounds. It’s also impairs coordination and concentration.

It’s not uncommon for people who have used marijuana and driven a vehicle to have actually traveled below the speed limit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were driving safely. Since marijuana impairs reaction time, those under the influence have a harder time stopping ahead of or swerving around unforeseen obstacles in the road.

A good case study is to look at Colorado, one of the two states to first legalize recreational marijuana. In the first year since pot became available at retail stores in the state, 94 people died in crashes where at least one driver tested positive for marijuana. That was more than the 71 such deaths in the year prior.

In 2009, about 10 percent of all traffic fatalities in Colorado involved a driver who had marijuana in his or her system. That number rose to 19 percent in the first year of pot being available recreationally. In all fairness, though, the total number of traffic fatalities continued to remain significantly lower than the state’s high of 743 in 2002.

This means that recreational pot hasn’t caused a drastic uptick in the number of traffic deaths in Colorado. Some would argue that more of the population is using marijuana since it’s legal in the state, and this would explain the increase in percentage of its role in fatal accidents. Also, the way law enforcement and medical examiners test for marijuana means traces of the drug can be discovered days or even a couple of weeks after the driver last consumed it, so it’s difficult to tell how many of the drivers were actively high when they got into a crash.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue that using pot and then getting into the driver’s seat makes anyone a better driver. It simply appears to be one of the many inhibitors of fully attentive driving.

In Colorado, recreational and medical marijuana users can be penalized alike for being found under the influence or having an open container of the drug (or a container with a broken seal). Anyone suspected to be under the influence of marijuana may be asked to take a blood test. Drivers with five or more nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the most potent chemical in marijuana) can be prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado. If your state allows medical and/or recreational marijuana, you can see driving regulations by visiting your state’s department of transportation, which you can find with this directory.

Common Names For Marijuana

Teenage Boy Sitting In Rundown Building - Summit Behavioral Health

If you have a teen whom you suspect may be using marijuana, you will want to be aware of several common names for marijuana that he or she may be using when talking to friends. The following terms should throw up a red flag, depending on the context in which they’re used. The terms below have to do with slang for marijuana itself, as well as paraphernalia and accessories that could be involved in the consumption of marijuana:

Slang Words for MarijuanaOther Teenage Marijuana Use Statistics

Here are a few other teenage marijuana use statistics that will give you an idea of the current climate surrounding the drug and what your children face when they enter their adolescent years:

  • Roughly 40 percent of teen marijuana smokers say they began before the age of 15.
  • 78 percent of teens report having close friends who use marijuana.
  • One in four 10th-graders and one in three 12th-graders have used marijuana over the last year, at least according to a 2011 survey.
  • From 2005 to 2013, the percentage of 12th-graders who saw becoming a regular marijuana user as a great risk fell from 58 percent to 40 percent.
  • A 30-plus-year study of more than 1,000 participants found that those who used pot regularly as teens and young adults permanently lost an average of 6 points off their IQ scores.
  • One out of 11 adults who try marijuana will become dependent or addicted.
  • One out of six teens who try pot will become daily or near-daily users.

Talking With Your Teen About Marijuana Use

Teenage Girl Sitting Near Lake - Summit Behavioral HealthNow that you better understand the modern landscape surrounding marijuana, let’s get into the many ways you can educate and dissuade your teenaged child from using it. The following 10 items are ongoing strategies you can use as you discuss the topic of marijuana with your teen.

Having A Two-way Conversation

Mom Pointing Finger At Daughter - Summit Behavioral Health For starters, each time you talk about cannabis with your child needs to be a back-and-forth conversation. Sitting them down to interrogate and/or lecture them won’t be an effective method in the long run. If anything, you want your child to do the brunt of the talking, while holding your comments or advice until they’re finishing speaking on a certain topic.

When having such a conversation, make sure it’s not while one of you is on the go and that you both have enough time set aside for it. Body language is crucial in this process, too. You want to make sure you mirror their posture, such as sitting when they’re sitting, or standing when they’re standing. Sitting with crossed arms while they’re speaking as well as pointing fingers when talking (as seen in the photo above) are two of the types of gestures you’re going to want to avoid if you truly want the teen to open up.

An Ongoing, Routine Process

It’s important to have this type of conversation more than once as your child progresses from middle school to high school and beyond. At the very least, you should check in yearly on your teen’s experiences with marijuana (and other substances).

If you’ve found that they have already tried cannabis or you determine their risk of becoming a user is high, then you should have these conversations more frequently. As previously mentioned, choosing the right time and setting to have these conversations each time is also crucial in this ongoing process. Make it into a routine, and your teen will soon understand what to expect each time you sit down to talk.

Keeping An Open-Minded, Positive Outlook

You want your child to share their experiences and observations about marijuana in as much detail as they’re comfortable with, so it’s best to approach these conversations with an open-minded and constructive attitude. If the teen is struggling with something related to the topic, how can you offer a solution?

A key to this process is maintaining active listening. You have to listen carefully to everything your teen is saying, while also asking open-ended questions and even offering empathy. Approach the conversation as a problem solver (rather than judge, jury and executioner), helping to either keep them away from the drug or figure out how to stop using.

If your teen has tried pot, ask them how it made them feel and what setbacks or side effects they may have noticed. Ask them what prompted them to try the drug in the first place. Let the child respond to these questions at length, and save any disagreements and directions until they are finished.

If you’re quick to judge and reprimand your child, you’ll shut down the conversation too early. While you may have to draw up some form of punishment based on what you hear, try to save these measures until the end or after the conversation. You want to hear their side of the story as fully as possible. It doesn’t hurt to thank them for being honest with you, even if what they share is startling at first.

Their Observations Of Marijuana Use

How are kids using, or at least discussing, marijuana at school? How does it come up around friends, and do any friends frequently use it? How do others appear to be affected while under the influence of marijuana?

Asking those questions is important to understanding how cannabis is influencing your teen specifically, and how closely it’s hitting to home. If your child doesn’t have many experiences using or being around marijuana, ask them what they’ve heard about it from friends, classmates, teachers, popular culture and the media.

Going beyond the scope of your teen’s personal marijuana experiences will help you both understand the environmental factors surrounding the child. From there, you will have more ideas on what to research and how to offer more broad-ranging and concrete solutions in future discussions with your child.

Discussing Drug Use With Your Teen’s Friends

Teens With Beer And Marijuana - Summit Behavioral HealthSpeaking of friends, you’re probably well aware that the people your teen associates with are likely going to be the biggest influence on whether your teen abstains from or starts using pot. This is why you’ll want to listen carefully when your teen talks about their friends’ experiences with marijuana.

If you deem your teen’s friends are a negative influence, you have to be tactful about steering them toward a different group of friends. It almost always backfires when you sharply criticize a particular friend or group of friends. Teenagers are often very loyal to and defensive of their companions, so your conversation could get off topic if you choose to vilify your child’s friends.

Instead, you’ll want to delicately ask your teen open-ended questions like, “What do you value about your friends?” and, “How do you feel when they use drugs around you?” You can point out behaviors that you don’t like, while also reiterating your expectations of your child. Lastly, you can set rules to mitigate how much time your teen spends with a questionable group of friends, such as not letting them go out on a weekend, etc.

Use Research In Your Discussions

Teenage Boy Struggling With Homework - Summit Behavioral HealthWhile much of the “Reefer Madness”-era fears have been debunked, marijuana is still far from a harmless substance, as you read earlier. Before you discuss marijuana with your teen, do some research about the drug that you can include as part of your conversation and education on the topic.

To take this even further, ask your teen to do their own research prior to the conversation you’ll have scheduled. This way, you can discuss their findings and be more aware of the risks and even myths surrounding cannabis use. Even if you have a young teen who hasn’t been exposed to marijuana much yet, having one of these conversations and incorporating well-researched talking points means that both of you will be better informed about your ensuing plans of action.

Honesty About Your Past Usage

Mom Having Discussion With Daughter - Summit Behavioral HealthIf you’re having several of these conversations with your teen, it’s almost inevitable that questions will come up about your past experiences with marijuana. It’s best to be honest in these situations, so that your teen will know that you’ve gone through what they’re probably going through now. This will also help them be more honest and open down the road.

If you did use marijuana as a teen or young adult, it’s best to vaguely describe the circumstances and rationale behind your usage. However, it’s important to also emphasize the negative effects the drug had at the time as well as what inspired you to abstain. Just because you used marijuana in the past doesn’t give your teen permission to do so now, but you can frame the conversation in a way that you’re trying to help them not make the mistakes you did.

Keeping Your Current Usage In Check

If you currently use cannabis, especially in front of your kids, it’s going to be infinitely harder to dissuade your teen from using it as they get older. Once your child approaches adolescence, you’re going to want to evaluate your use of marijuana, and even alcohol or other substances.

Coming home from a stressful day of work and pouring a drink or smoking a joint sends the wrong message to a child who needs to learn positive coping mechanisms to difficult situations. It doesn’t matter if it’s legal for you and illegal for them. They’re eventually going to ask why they can’t partake in the same substances you regularly use.

Therefore, you’re going to want to try to eliminate or significantly cut back on your substance use during your children’s impressionable adolescent years. You’ll be a positive role model and a more credible voice of authority in your discussions with them about marijuana.

Discuss How To Say No

While having conversations about marijuana, work with your teens on ways they can say no to friends or peers who are using cannabis in the vicinity. You may have to role play and figure out which phrases or rationale you teen is comfortable with saying in turning down somebody who is offering them pot.

Some examples:

  • “I’m not into that.”
  • “No, thanks. I have a big game (or test, meeting, event, etc.) tomorrow.”
  • “I’m good. Not my style.”
  • “No, thanks. I’m trying to quit.”

You may have some insight on what phrases do and don’t work when refusing to partake in marijuana usage. Sometimes, teens (and even adults) end up partaking because they don’t really have a good way of saying no. Brainstorming with your teen and practicing turning somebody down will give them the right tool and confidence when the time comes.

Turning To Other Activities

Help your teen find dedicated activities that will help keep the temptation of marijuana and other substances at bay. Encourage them to participate in sports, church, or a school band or club to be in a more positive environment, so that they’re not just sitting idly by after school. This might also help your teen find a healthier, more constructive group of friends, especially if you’re wary of the ones your child currently has.

A Better Foundation

Father And Son On Bridge - Summit Behavioral HealthSometimes it’s out of parents’ hands, but there are many occasions where a parent played all the difference between a sober teen and one who abused substances daily. Checking in regularly on your teens’ concerns, experiences and observations about marijuana will help them assess their own feelings and opinions about the drug.

You don’t need to approach your teen with scare tactics. Just lending them an empathetic ear and offering constructive solutions can make all the difference. You still want to have clear expectations, and you may need to redirect or punish at times, but you don’t have to approach every conversation with a gavel looking for what kind of sentence you can draw up. These are crucial years for your child, so setting aside some time to have these discussions regularly will play a big role in the person they will become 10, 20, 30 years down the road.

For any questions or concerns you may have about your loved one, please feel free to call us today. Also be sure to Subscribe to our blogs to stay current on all news and get some helpful advice.

Infographic: The Toll Of Heroin In America

In Cincinnati this week, a mother and father of a 7-month-old girl both reportedly overdosed on heroin in the child’s hospital room. The mother did not survive, and the father was initially found unresponsive, but he ending up surviving. However, he is now being charged with several drug and weapon offenses.

Although the scene in the Cincinnati hospital room may seem bizarre, it isn’t as uncommon as you’d think, especially given the effects of heroin and the potentially fatal nature of the drug. See the infographic below to learn more about the increasingly worrisome toll of heroin in America.

Toll Of Heroin In America - Infographic - Summit Behavioral Health

7 Ways To Support An Alcoholic

Do you have a loved one who is in recovery or needs to be? See 7 tips to support their recovery.When you have a close friend or a loved one who is an alcoholic, it can be a difficult and complex problem. On one hand, you don’t want to wrongly accuse them of anything or put them on the defensive, but on the other, you want to ensure they are getting the help they need. There’s certainly a fine line between providing support and enabling someone with a drinking problem.

The following are seven ways to offer beneficial help that won’t further them along the path of addiction.

Ways To Support An Alcoholic


1. Protect Yourself

Alcoholism is a problem that affects everyone around the person who is suffering from the disease. It’s natural for those close to the drinker to feel a variety of emotions from anger and frustration to anxiety, disappointment, and denial. The first step is identifying that there is a problem.

Some of the signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • Neglect of responsibilities
  • Lying
  • Run-ins with the law
  • Depression
  • Hangover symptoms
  • Shakiness
  • Increased tolerance

Once the problem has been established, gain strength in knowledge. Find others who have suffered from the disease. Al-Anon is a great option for learning about the disease and getting help for yourself.

2. Don’t Lend Money To An Alcoholic

It’s incredibly common for at least one family member or friend to be financially supporting an alcoholic. Alcoholics are often quick to cry poor when they want funds to spend on their habit. And, they will often neglect financial responsibilities such as rent, child support, and bills just to buy more alcohol. The reality is that money never cures alcoholism. It only extends the problem. The majority of alcoholics will not feel compelled to seek recovery unless they are faced with serious consequences. By providing money, you’re only preventing the individual from hitting the place where they can identify they need help.

3. Talk Calmly With The Alcoholic

The time to discuss an alcohol problem isn’t when the alcoholic is drunk. This will only fuel a heated argument that will not resolve anything. It’s important to approach an alcoholic when they are sober and share how you feel in a calm, straightforward way.

4. Talk To Others Within The Alcoholic’s “Inner Circle”

It’s important to try and get everyone in the alcoholic’s life on the same page about the problem. It only takes one person enabling to prevent the alcoholic from getting the help they need. Share this article or get outside resources to tell others what boundaries need to be set and what help is required. Alcoholics Anonymous has a tremendous amount of beneficial content on the topic to help better explain the problem.

5. Get Help From An Interventionist if the Alcoholic’s Life Is At Risk

It’s a common misconception that an alcoholic has to want help for the help to work. In many cases, the addiction is so strong, they are long past the point of identifying their need for help. For alcoholics who are deeply entrenched with their addiction and heading down a very risky and dangerous path, it may be time to call in an interventionist to confront them about the problem before it’s too late.

6. Offer To Take The Alcoholic To An AA Meeting

Alcoholics Anonymous is a program that works for millions of alcoholics, and it can be a very effective part of a comprehensive treatment program. If your friend or loved one is unwilling to go on their own, offer to attend a meeting with them. Often, this first step can help propel the individual to get the help they need.

7. Get Off Your High Horse

Taking the moral high ground and chastising an alcoholic will only backfire, even if your intentions are good. The individual knows right from wrong, but is battling an addiction that requires treatment. Just as you wouldn’t “preach” to someone battling diabetes or cancer, you shouldn’t do this to someone suffering from alcoholism.

Have Questions?

Whether you’re an alcoholic or you know someone who is, call us. The first step starts with asking for help. Our caring and supportive staff is standing by.


We will help you take that first step of recovery and be with you every step of the way. Call us now.

Contact Us Today To See How We Can Help Your Loved One

Motherhood And Addiction – When Busy Moms Struggle With Substance Abuse

Motherhood And AddictionMotherhood can be downright relenting and busy. Juggling around-the-clock caregiving with life’s other responsibilities can be downright overwhelming. Unfortunately, for some women, relief from these challenges comes in the form of alcohol or drugs.

Women struggling with addiction is a growing problem. While there are still more men with drug and alcohol problems, researchers have found that women tend to progress more quickly from using an addictive substance to dependence. They are also more likely to suffer relapse.

Talking About Addiction And Motherhood

Although the topic of mothers and addiction is more openly discussed now than it used to be, it is still somewhat taboo for many. Many people still believe in the stereotype of the perfect mother who cooks, cleans, and takes care of her husband and children, while still having time to manage a successful career. Yet, the reality is that no woman can do it all.

No mother plans on becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, but the problem of substance abuse can quickly take hold and be surprisingly difficult to treat alone. For many women who find themselves battling addiction, a treatment program is a must for overcoming the substance abuse and for sustaining recovery.

Do You Struggle With Substance Abuse?

It’s simply a fact that addiction can sneak up on women who are busy with the day-to-day activities of taking care of a family.

Are you concerned that you may have a problem? Here are a few signs that may indicate that you need help:

  • You’re feeling overwhelmed, depressed or afraid to discuss your feelings.
  • You’re hiding alcohol or drugs from children or other family members.
  • Your marriage or relationship has been negatively impacted by your drug or alcohol use.
  • Your children have seen you drunk, high or passed out.
  • You’re increasingly concerned that something isn’t right.
  • You are no longer enjoying the activities that used to bring you joy.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help As A Mother

If you’re a mother who suspects that she may have a problem with drugs or alcohol, you may be fearful to ask for help. It may seem impossible to take a break for treatment, yet the reality is that treatment is the best gift you can give yourself and your family. And, the sooner you start treatment, the faster you will be on your journey of recovery.


Don’t wait for your problem to get worse. Contact us today for answers to your questions and for real help.

Does Drinking BEFORE Pregnancy Affect A Toddler’s Behavior?

Is An Intervention Right For Your Loved One?

Is An Intervention Right For Your Loved OneMany people try to sweep under the rug their loved one’s drug or alcohol problem. Hoping that the problem will just go away on its own, it may seem easier to live in a state of denial.

Yet, the problem of addiction doesn’t just disappear. In most cases, it only gets worse, leading to increasing problems both for the addict and for everyone around him or her.

Because of the escalation of addiction, it’s often necessary to address the problem head-on. Sometimes, only a conversation is necessary to propel the individual to seek treatment. Yet, in many cases, the addict will resist getting help and more steps are needed to address the problem. For some, it might be time for an intervention.

What Is An Intervention?

An intervention is a process to confront a person in a non-threatening way to enable them to see their own self-destructive behavior and how it is affecting all those involved. Most often, it involves loved ones and friends who are prepared to talk with the person who needs help. The objective of an intervention is for the self-destructive person to listen to the facts and opinions shared and to accept help.

Before you launch into this process, it’s well worth reading 5 things to consider before an intervention here.

During an intervention, family and friends, often in consultation with a doctor or licensed addiction counselor, will gather together to confront the individual. The discussion will include examples of destructive behaviors and the impact these behaviors have had. As well, there will be an offer to guide the person to prearranged treatment, along with the ramifications if he or she refuses to accept the treatment.

Getting Help From An Addiction Specialist

Addiction is a complex problem that affects individuals in dramatically different ways. Getting professional help can help you conduct an effective intervention and to determine the best treatment options. In some cases, it can even be beneficial to have the specialist present for the intervention. This is particularly true if the person has a history of mental illness, violence, or suicidal behavior.

Is It Time For Help?

Alcohol and drug problems get worse over time. By shedding light on the problem and bringing it out into the open, it’s a step in the right direction of getting your loved one the help they need.


Do you want more information on interventions or effective treatment for drug or alcohol abuse?

Call Serenity at Summit Now To Speak To A Caring Staff Member

Recognizing Signs And Symptoms Of Heroin Addiction

Recognizing signs and symptoms of heroin addiction

Knowing the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction can help you manage one of life’s most difficult situations – living with a heroin addict. First and foremost, it’s important to understand that addicts, by the very nature of their disease, are extremely proficient at leading double lives and are highly skilled in secrecy, making excuses, and covering up.

One of the first signs your loved one may be struggling with heroin addiction is when it becomes nearly impossible for them to provide answers to your everyday questions.  Heroin addicts are notoriously illusive, and just like the CIA, they consider everything to be on a need-to-know basis.

Heroin addicts also keep friends and family members compartmentalized and separated to hide their problem. Addicts dole out small bits and pieces of information, so that no one ever gets the full picture of their lives. However, when you add up the whole story, it’s easy to see that your loved one is in deep trouble and covering up a serious addiction to a dangerous substance.

When A Loved One Is Addicted To Heroin

If you’re like many you’ve probably asked yourself “What leads to heroin addiction?”  Studies have shown that many heroin addicts were introduced to opiates through legitimate medical uses such as painkillers after surgery. Opiates are highly addictive, and it’s not uncommon for patients to seek out street drugs once they are not able to sustain their usage through prescriptions.

Signs Of Heroin Addiction

If you suspect that your loved one is abusing heroin, there are other signs to watch for besides secrecy. These include:

  • Significant Behavioral Changes
  • Declining Health or Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Track Marks on Arms or Legs
  • Drug Paraphernalia Like Syringes, Small Glass Pipes, Rubber Ties, and Bent Spoons
  • Bags of a Powdery or Crumbly Substance

What Next?

If your suspicions have been confirmed, and you are, indeed facing the fact that someone you are close with is a heroin addict, it’s time to lead them to help to overcome heroin addiction for the long term. This means researching appropriate drug addiction treatment centers.

In some cases, inpatient care is the best option – especially for those with co-occurring mental disorders. At Summit Behavioral Health, we offer a variety of convenient treatment facility locations, including an inpatient treatment center in New England, located in Haverhill, Massachusetts.


Heroin addiction is serious and not something to ignore. Pay attention to your loved ones and if they need help to get free from the grip of heroin addiction.

Call Us Now For Information And Local Treatment