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First-Time Substance Abuse Occurs in Summer

Parents: Communicate Effectively, Confront Substance Use and Abuse – with Care

Key Facts:

  • First-time substance use is higher in the summer months according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • Parents need to recognize problems and work toward effective communication to shed light on potential substance use.
  • Getting to the root of why a person chooses a harmful option to feel better is the main goal.
  • Caring intervention followed by Christian treatment programs can help substance users and addicts recover effectively and make lasting change.
  • Decision-Making skills is the ultimate long-term weapon to combat addictions and all Behavioral Health issues.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, alcohol, drug, and tobacco use often begins in summer, when more free time and less adult supervision makes substance use and abuse easier. We at  Lighthouse Network want to warn parents of the risk and offer practical tips for confronting substance use and abuse effectively.

It’s so important to look at our communication with our teens and young adults, to see patterns that hinder, rather than help communication. By really connecting with your teen and identifying with what they are going through, sometimes parents can recognize problems that lead to addiction before they begin.

For young people, both first-time substance use and longer-term abuse is often an indicator of a deeper problem. Whether depression, or wanting to fit it when they feel like they don’t, or a deeper cause like running from the pain of traumatic experiences unknown to parents, substance abuse is often a numbing agent or self-medication that relieves the user from the pain of something that is too difficult to face.

It’s really critical for parents to recognize triggers that can lead to substance abuse, from a move to a new town or not fitting in at school to bigger issues like physical or sexual abuse or rape. Many young people today are wondering about life and their purpose and they see a dim future for a variety of reasons. As parents, we need to be aware of and stay ‘plugged in’ to what our kids are experiencing on a day-to-day basis and to communicate openly about potential problems or issues. Let your teens talk, and really listen to what they are saying. Use questions to draw them out and resist the temptation to be critical. By showing care and concern over criticism and judgment, parents can more easily connect with their children and help nip substance use in the bud, before it becomes a full-blown addiction.

And for teens and young adults that move from substance use to full-blown addiction, I advocate strongly for a caring intervention followed by help from a well-qualified Christian counselor, preferably in a residential rehab or intensive outpatient situation.

We encourage parents to confront the addict in a way that conveys concern while offering truth and hope without frustration or judgment. By showing God’s love to an addict who is hurting and by communicating compassionately, you are able to tear down defensive walls and help an addict to see him or herself as God does: as a person made in God’s image who has a purpose and is worthy of love and a rich, full life free of addictions. We help parents channel their love and concern in a way that will help understand and influence the addicted child in the best way possible, preserving sanity and often saving the addicts life. By following such an intervention with a strong, Christian treatment program, users and addicts can achieve a more lasting recovery than if they undertake a secular program. Only through the healing power of Jesus Christ can an addict truly change.

karl-benzio-1Dr. Karl Benzio MD, Christian Psychiatrist, writer, speaker, media guest expert, social issue activist, and the founder and clinical director of Lighthouse Network. Benzio brings scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s storms. His experiences include teaching pastors, ministry leaders and students about counseling, leadership, parenting, marriage, and conflict resolution skills in traumatized areas like Uganda, Kenya and post-Hussein Iraq. He is currently a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, the Pennsylvania Director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, and serves on many other social policy task forces. His specialties include adolescents, addictions, decision-making and infusing spirituality into treatment. Benzio shares psycho-spiritual insights via his Stepping Stones daily devotional, on his one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” on 425 Christian radio stations and on iDisciple.org.

Email: KBenzio@LighthouseNetwork.org

Twitter: @drkarlb