October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Hey! It’s National Substance Abuse Prevention Month!!

Acknowledging individuals impacted by substance use disorder in recovery and remembering lives lost to addiction was at the core of October being assigned as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in 2011. This month is designed to raise awareness of substance abuse prevention, and to promote efforts aimed at reducing drug and alcohol misuse. Activities include education to raise awareness, encouragement towards early intervention, the fostering of collaborations, advocating for policies, and sharing success stories.

Alone, overcoming addiction is an insurmountable endeavor. Introduce a family, one with children, and the impacts become even more profound. Substance use disorder often leads to emotional turmoil, strained relationships, and financial difficulties. Family members may experience feelings of helplessness, guilt, or frustration. Impacts on children can be immediate and long term, including:

Legal Issues: child protective services, in some cases may become involved if substance use creates risk to a child’s safety.

Attachment Issues: children may struggle to form secure attachments with caregivers impacted by substance use leading to challenges in building healthy relationships both in the present and later in life.

Emotional and Psychological Trauma: children may experience depression, anxiety, or trauma due to instability and unpredictability in behaviors associated with substance use.

Inconsistent Routine: lack of structure and erratic behaviors in a household can disrupt a child’s sense of routine, potentially impacting their development.

Isolation and Stigmatization: children may face social stigma as they hesitate to disclose their family situation or social isolation can occur as they decline to bring friends over to visit.

Reversal of Roles: children may feel forced to assume adult responsibilities as they attempt to compensate for a lack of sufficient caregiver support from a parent challenged by substance addiction.

Academic Challenges: instability and stress at home can hinder a child’s ability to focus on their education which can lead to academic difficulties.

Increased Risk of Substance Use: genetic and environmental predispositions to substance addiction may create a higher likelihood that children of parents with substance use disorders developing similar issues in life.

Involving family in an addiction journey can provide an enhanced support system where practical and emotional support can be achieved. It can help families identify enabling and triggering behaviors so that they may not inadvertently contribute to addiction continuation. It can create healthy boundaries and effective communication, minimize codependency, help with the building or rebuilding of healing relationships and assist with crisis management. Having children with their parents while in recovery services provides parents motivation to stick to the difficult task of recovering from substance use disorder.

Locating solutions is not an unusual problem for families in crisis. In Minnesota, there are 7 substance use family residential treatment providers who support parents with children seeking to transition to a life in recovery.

ANEW Chemical Health Services: 32 treatment beds, 18 apartments

Avivo: 28 family units

Fellowship: scattered site housing across the Metro and the Rochester area

Recovering Hope: 74 women, 30 child capacity

RS Eden: 16 scattered site apartments

Wayside Family Treatment: 16 rooms for moms with children

Wellcome Manor: 31 family units

Facilities mentioned that in addition to supporting parents in their recovery journey, the children who reside with their families benefit from stronger attachment, stability, safety, a structured routine, therapeutic support, peer support, role modeling, access to services, preparation for reintegration, skill building, and an overall supportive and healing environment.

These sites evidence communities caring for families impacted by addiction seeking recovery.

– Sheri