Prevention of Addiction

Risk Factors

If you are an addict, chances are that you are not the only addict in your family of origin. Addiction definitely seems to run in families, and typically there are several varieties of addiction present. Eventually, addicts start to worry about the prospect of passing their addiction on to their own kids and grandkids.

Genetics We know that there seems to be a genetic component to alcoholism and obesity, and we can guess that genetics play a part in all addictions. Short of deciding not to have children, there is little you can do to determine what genes your kids inherit.

Addiction education One area that you may be able to help with is providing a good role model and information about addiction. Because of your children’s increased chance for addiction, you can gently educate them about addiction and recovery.

The key word here is gently. Forcing addiction education down kids’ throats is not the best way to give them a positive attitude toward recovery. You can share your feelings honestly and be willing to listen to theirs. What you can give them is the positive role model of seeing you work your own recovery program.

Build self-esteem tools You can also help them develop their self-esteem. Try to give them messages that they are important, that they have good skills and talents, that they are worthwhile people. There are lots of parenting books and classes that have practical suggestions on how to do this.

Self-esteem will not necessarily keep children from developing an addiction, but it will make it much easier for them to recover if they do.

Since addiction is not just physical, the healthier the family environment the less likely a person will be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually vulnerable to addiction.

Healthy Eating

Parents can model moderate behaviors such as healthy eating. Of course kids will be exposed to unhealthy foods, but if parents and older siblings are modeling basically healthy and moderate eating plans, kids have a better chance of not developing eating addiction or eating disorders. If parents drink, and don’t want to stop, then they can at least model moderation in drinking and similar behaviors.

Early Recognition

One thing we do know about children who come from homes where there is addiction recovery is that their problems, not just with addiction, are more likely to be identified and treated at an earlier age.

Children can be the focus of a formal or informal intervention (see the Intervention module). With kids it is especially important to find the appropriate kind of treatment, whether the problem is addiction, behavioral problems, or learning disabilities.

However, it is almost as dangerous to send your children to treatment too soon as too late. Often families who are not in recovery wait long after the problem has become very serious, and many addicted children have even died of addiction. But sometimes recovery families go overboard in the other direction, sending their kids off to inpatient treatment before there are good signs that the problem is addiction, and before there is any clue that the child is ready for recovery.

The danger of too-early treatment is that the children become treatment wise, and alienated from their “fanatic” parents, and it leaves few options to follow if the treatment does not take on the first attempt.

Family involvement If possible, start with something less extreme. Outpatient treatment, especially family counseling, may produce good results for much less money, and leave the option of an inpatient program in case it is needed later.

3 Cs Organizations like Al-Anon and other self-help groups can be very helpful. Al-Anon talks about the three Cs, which have helped many parents to hang onto their sanity:

  • I didn’t cause it.
  • I can’t control it.
  • I can’t cure it.

Prevention of addiction, see also: Abstinence, Acceptance, Addiction, Adolescents, Aftercare, Codependency, Counseling, Crisis, Eating addiction, Family, Habit & structure, Honesty, Intervention, Moderation, Pregnancy, Priorities, Progression, Recovery, Sabotage of recovery, Serenity, Stinking thinking.

Updated 12 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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