Tag Archives: cope

How to Explain Addiction to Children

Little girl child with concerned expression

Protecting and Educating Kids About the Dangers of Drugs

Parents want their children to be unaffected by addiction issues. So, addiction may not be a hot topic within your family. However, at some point, all children will probably face peer pressure or witness someone who is struggling with a substance abuse disorder. As your child grows, you can help her understand and develop skills that prevent her from going down the path of addiction.

Avoid Assumptions

Don’t assume that your child knows about addiction and related issues. According to kidshealth.org, opening up to your child about the dangers of substance abuse makes it more likely she’ll come to you for help when she faces a problem or encounters peer pressure.

Don’t assume your child already knows the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse, or that she could never fall victim. Though schools may teach students about dealing with peer pressure, it’s up to you to guide her in the right direction. You can do so by modeling behavior and keeping the lines of communication open. It’s also essential to understand the signs of addiction and substance use, and to watch your children closely for changes.

Discuss Family Addiction Problems Openly

If you or your partner is facing an addiction, start a conversation that validates your child’s feelings. Let her know she will always be loved and discuss what steps are being taken for recovery. Customize your discussion for her age group. If a child does not understand what addiction is, you could say that strong cravings can happen over and over throughout the day and night. It is very hard to resist the urge to do what it says. You could compare it to having an annoying song in your head that keeps coming back over and over again.

Acquire Knowledge

 Because it’s not easy to explain addiction to a child, your best bet is to acquire as much information as you can. Be ready to answer any awkward questions that could come up. According to Psych Central, while it’s not a good idea to lie to your child, you may want to be careful to protect young children from the grittier details.

Be as straightforward as possible if your child has questions. If she asks about your own experience with drugs or other addictions, it is best to tell the truth. Real stories can help her learn about consequences. Telling the truth about your imperfections  also establishes a safety net so your child is more likely to talk to you about her struggles.  By sharing information with your child you also reassure her that in life we have choices. Some of her choices could lead to problems, but making the right decisions will likely lead down a healthier path.

Tell Your Child That It’s Not Her Fault

Personality disorders often develop in people with an addiction, spurring them to say irrational things or lash out and blame others. Although addiction is no one’s fault, the addicted person is still responsible for their own behavior, and is the only person who can make recovery successful.  If an addict tells a child that she is the cause of the substance abuse, it is not true and it probably isn’t even how the addict really feels. Help your child understand that she shouldn’t carry a burden of guilt when loving someone with an addiction.

Find support

A support system is crucial in maintaining a sense of normalcy and stability in families. This may include a support group, friends, family and an accountability partner. Parents often face high levels of stress and need to make tough choices that will mold their child’s life. Parents need to seek support for themselves as well as for their children.

Addiction can affect everyone involved, especially a child who doesn’t fully grasp the concept of addiction. Offer support and protection to your child, repeating the fact that you love her. By talking openly about addiction, you can help her to grow up with the knowledge and confidence to just say no.

Blog  by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista  February 20, 2018.

Revised for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Image Courtesy of Unsplash

3 Stress Relievers for Parents in Addiction Recovery

old shoes made into a flower planter

Being a parent is far from easy. Especially if you are a single parent who also is in addiction recovery. Parents are balancing meetings and therapy sessions with kids’ schedules and routines. They are making all the decisions and being the breadwinner, You face loads of stress each and every day.

Stress in Addiction Recovery

Stress takes its toll on parents in addiction recovery. You need to find ways to relieve your stress in healthy ways to avoid a relapse. Our X stress relievers will help.

Stick to a Daily Routine

While it may sound impossible to establish and stick to a daily routine, you need to make every effort to do so. A routine will help you keep track of where you need to be and when, and it will set a structured schedule for your children. Schedules and routines make children feel safe and secure. And, they help you relieve stress by knowing your responsibilities ahead of time. Daily routines also signify to your kids that you are reliable and accountable. This helps repair relationships with older children who may have been hurt emotionally by your addiction.

That’s not to say that your daily routine has to be rigid. You must allow for some flexibility because rigid schedules can be too demanding and often cause more stress. Kids also enjoy surprises every once in awhile. So, allow for special events on the weekend. Plan a special treat after dinner to reward academic or behavior improvements. Be ready to change your daily routine at certain times throughout the year. Expect change when school begins or ends, when kids start athletic or music lessons or programs, or when you join a support group.

Take Care of Yourself

Parents in addiction recovery often don’t prioritize their own health and well-being because they feel guilty for being an addict. They know they impacted their children with their previous self-destructive decisions and actions. However, stress takes a tremendous toll, especially on single parents’ health and must be managed if parents will be able to take care of their children properly.

Taking care of yourself should include eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. You can include your children in healthy eating by looking for and experimenting with recipes you find online. Cooking together teaches your children a new skill and provides you with quality time that will reduce your stress level. You also can exercise with your children. You could play football, baseball, or basketball, go for a family walk or bike ride. Try taking a hike, kayaking or fishing.

Enjoy Yourself Safely

Being a parent in addiction recovery does not mean that you cannot enjoy a night with friends or a social gathering. It is a good idea to relieve some stress and have some fun. It does, however, mean that you need to be smart about your choices and have a plan in place for maintaining your sobriety in tempting situations. If you are invited to a party that will put your sobriety at risk, take your own water or sparkling cider with you. Invite a friend who will keep you in check and who will not mind staying sober for the night with you. If you are concerned about being pressured to drink, tell people that you are a designated driver or that you don’t drink because you need to be available for your children.

It’s also a good idea to plan for a party or other tempting social situation by getting support ahead of time. If you are comfortable enough to do so, tell the party host that you are in recovery and ask whether nonalcoholic beverages will be served. You also can attend an extra meeting prior to the event or alert your sponsor to the event and make sure she will be available if you need her at the spur of the moment.

Parents in addiction recovery must manage their stress levels in healthy ways to maintain sobriety. Sticking to a daily routine, prioritizing self-care, and enjoying yourself safely are three great ways to relieve stress without putting your sobriety in jeopardy.

Blog  by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista  8-5-17

Updated for readability by Mary Knutson 5-25-20

Anxiety: The Other Stage of Grief

Woman trying to find her way through woods

Sadness and anxiety often happen together. It’s common to feel anxiety after the death of a loved one. Grief and anxiety happen together. But, not much attention is given to this side of grief. When you’ve experienced a major loss, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost control and like the world is no longer the safe and normal place you once knew. When you pair these strong emotions of grief with feelings of helplessness, it’s easy for anxiety to grow.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety starts as extra worrying that interferes with your everyday life. You may feel a sense of dread or distress for no apparent reason, struggle with concentration, be irritable and on edge, and have trouble eating and sleeping. When anxiety is related to grief, it’s especially common to find yourself having obsessive thoughts. You may think about bad things happening to you or your loved ones. You may even face panic attacks where you have feelings of extreme fear, an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, and dizziness.

Why Does Grief Cause Anxiety?

When you lose someone close to you, especially if that loss is unexpected, your sense of safety in the world can be shaken to its core. Suddenly you feel powerless and aware of how fragile life is, in a way you’ve never thought of before. You may develop an intense fear of your own death, or begin to worry about how you will manage without your loved one. These feelings can be incredibly stressful, especially when paired with the usual symptoms of grief. You may even have anxiety triggered by a fear of your own grief emotions or a feeling that you’re not able to cope with your grief.

How to Cope?

Dealing with anxiety isn’t easy. Anxiety often comes on unexpectedly and it can be hard to figure out the cause. That makes it more difficult to prepare for or avoid. However, there are some things you can do to cope with anxiety when it hits.

When you feel anxiety coming on, try practicing deep belly breathing. Breathe in slowly, letting your chest and stomach rise as your lungs fill with air, and then breathe out slowly. Breathing deeply and focusing on your breath can help tone down your body’s stress response, heading off an anxiety attack before it starts.

If you find yourself unable to sleep because you can’t turn off your racing thoughts, try playing guided imagery recordings. By guiding your thoughts toward positive imagery and away from unwanted thoughts, guided imagery can help you relax and clear your mind.

Try creating an anchor thought. An anchor thought can help you manage your anxiety when it creeps in. It’s called an “anchor thought” because it helps anchor you to reality and keeps your mind from spiraling into anxious thinking. An anchor thought might involve recalling a happy memory and the positive feelings associated with it. Or, it might be a breathing exercise or mantra you repeat until you’re feeling better.

Consider Seeking Treatment

If your anxiety doesn’t get better as your grief fades, or if it’s interfering with your everyday life, it’s important to seek treatment from a mental health professional. You may choose to talk to a grief counselor, join a support group, seek medication from a psychiatrist, or all three. No matter what you choose, getting help for your anxiety is an important step you can take toward managing your grief.

Recognize Normal Emotions

Anxiety is a normal part of grief. Grief pushes you into a world of intense emotions where nothing feels certain except, perhaps, uncertainty itself. While grieving a loved one can be an incredibly isolating experience, it’s important to remember that intense reactions like anxiety and even depression are normal, and there are experienced professionals who know how to help.

Image via Pixabay by Unsplash

Blog by Jennifer Scott, guest contributor posted  3-13-17

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Videos to Help Teens Cope

Flower garden planted in old shoes

How to help you cope with stress:

Stress and anxiety are common emotions for teenagers. Sometimes what you need to distract yourself from what is bothering you.   The  following  list of Youtube.com videos is meant to help teens cope with stress in a positive way.

Check out the Ways of Coping Video List to help you to relax, heal, or be more mindful. Try to watch them all and see how they make you feel.  Then, choose the best ones to watch as often as you want to:

Videos for teens:

Succeed with a Positive Attitude                       1:00 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvtUByxnrGU

The Pandas: Belly of the Whale                          5:11 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWTFKihlhLQ

20 Words to Change Your Life                           4.29 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLZxJZ70MQ4

K’NAAN Wavin’ Flag Celebration Mix               3:75 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTJSt4wP2ME

The Interlude Dance (Original)                           3:52 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cuS_31zJ6U

The Gratitude Dance (Original)                          3:25 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9z2ELaBVJY

What is Mindfulness?                                           1:59 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCnB5i0ToUc

Stress – Let Go & Be in Flow of Life                   3:08 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMGOuHwfnFQ

Forgiveness & Freedom of Letting Go              4:02 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D4VMZb8wLY

I Am Grateful                                                           4:11 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtoGY6zMXGM

Inspirational Video: Don’t Quit Poem              2:02 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkCFeNeqyHk

Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir –Lux Arumque     6:20 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs

Relax – Zen Garden Kokin Gumi                                    7:09 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR3dM-GlZK8

Yiruma – River Flows in You                                          3:08      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsTjI75uEUQ

Enjoy the videos!

 

Blog #3  10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-27-20

 

Videos to Help You Cope

cat in windowsill

How to help you cope with stress:

Stress and anxiety are common emotions for everyone. Sometimes what you need to distract yourself from what is bothering you.   The  following  list of Youtube.com videos is meant to help you cope with stress in a positive way.

Check out the Ways of Coping Videos List to help you to relax, heal, or be more mindful. Try to watch them all and see how they make you feel.  Then, choose the best ones to watch as often as you want to:

Videos to watch:

Ten Tips for Stress Management                       2:14 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOpZU320v5E

Succeed with a Positive Attitude                       1:00 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvtUByxnrGU

42 Ways to Celebrate and Enjoy Life                5:10 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBqsWDaUdHM

Believe in Yourself                                                  3:42 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdpHaKkbmGk

K’NAAN Wavin’ Flag Celebration Mix               3:75 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTJSt4wP2ME

There is Hope (Meditation)                                 3:31 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7EuSeRBMnk

What is Mindfulness?                                           1:59 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCnB5i0ToUc

Stress – Let Go & Be in Flow of Life                   3:08 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMGOuHwfnFQ

Forgiveness & Freedom of Letting Go              4:02 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D4VMZb8wLY

I Am Grateful                                                           4:11 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtoGY6zMXGM

Inspirational Video: Don’t Quit Poem              2:02 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkCFeNeqyHk

Relax – Zen Garden Kokin Gumi                                    7:09 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR3dM-GlZK8

Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir – Lux Arumque     6:20 min       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs

Yiruma – River Flows in You                                  3:08     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsTjI75uEUQ

Enjoy these videos!

 

Blog #2 10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN  of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-27-20

(Next  – Blog #3 will be inspirational videos for teens)

Forgiveness and the Heart

This heart shaped potato was found in my garden.
This heart shaped potato was found in my garden!

A Heart-Shaped Surprise:

A surprise from my garden helped me reflect on forgiveness and the heart. I was divorced and lonely, not yet ready to forgive. Gardening was something I enjoyed.  It helped me to relax and heal. 

While digging up some potatoes in the Fall, I found a little heart-shaped potato ! I was planning to show it to my  daughter. But, then I forgot about it for several days.  There was plenty of “hustle and bustle” because my daughter’s wedding was coming up soon.

Attending a stressful event:

I was not looking forward to seeing my ex-husband and his second wife at the wedding and the reception. I had resented them for over 7 years because of their part in ending our marriage. But, during the time of the wedding celebration, I was finally able to forgive them and move on. After that, I had more peace in my heart even though there was no conversation about forgiveness with them.

Forgiveness and the heart:

The next day, I saw the heart-shaped potato again. It helped me to realize how much lighter my heart felt after forgiving them. I felt healthier and more at peace. The heart-shaped symbol of love is more that – It is also a symbol of healing. You can read more about forgiving and forgetting below:

What does “forgiving” mean?

  • Forgiving means understanding that making mistakes is part of being human. Remember that when you hear people say things that hurt your feelings, often they weren’t meant the way they sounded.
  • Accept an apology (If you get one) – Believe people if they say they’re “sorry.”
  • Forgiving is a way to reopen and heal the channels of communication.
  • It helps calm the fears of rejection, failure, or guilt.
  • Forgiveness can be an act of compassion, humanity, and gentleness – It can let someone know that she/he is valued as a person with potential for goodness.
  • But you don’t actually have to tell someone that they are forgiven. You can forgive someone in your heart (to make yourself feel better), without even telling them.
  • Forgiving can be done for your sake rather than for another person. But talking about it can be helpful to mend relationships.

What does “forgetting” mean?

  • You don’t really “forget” what happened, but you can put the issues behind you, and not bring them up again and again.
  • You “clear the air” and let go of anger, hurt, and pain over what happened.
  • Forgetting encourages and helps the other person to rebuild, reconnect, and re-establish caring, healthy relationships.
  • Forgetting doesn’t mean that you return to an abusive or unhealthy relationship. You can continue to avoid people who are toxic to you, while you wish them well in their future without you.
  • Understand that some people do not know how or are not able to love others enough to be in a healthy relationship with you. If you think of it that way, you may be able to feel sorry for them because “it’s their loss.”

What can happen if you don’t forgive?

  • Without forgiveness, the pain and hurt will stay with you.
  • Guilt and sadness continue, along with more problems in relationships.

Which of the following do you do?

  • Seek revenge and payback
  • Become angry and bitter
  • Feel defensive, self-protective, or distant
  • Blame each other
  • Have negative thinking or unhealthy behaviors
  • Feel lost or afraid – Avoid sharing or showing your feelings
  • Have fear of making mistakes, or low self-esteem
  • Fear failure, rejection, or conflict
  • Have high stress in relationships

What do people think when they refuse to forgive?

  • “You don’t deserve any kindness, concern, or forgiveness for what you did.”
  • “It hurt so much that I’ll never be able to forgive you.”
  • “I’ll never let you forget what you did, no matter how sorry you are.”
  • “People who hurt other people deserve the worst that life has to offer.”
  • “I resent everyone who has hurt me – I will make sure I’m never hurt again.”

What can help us to forgive and forget?

  • Let go of past hurt and pain.
  • Letting go and letting [God or your other spiritual beliefs] leads you during hurtful times.
  • Let go of fears for the future and allow yourself to take a risk.
  • Letting go of anger, hostility and resentment can give you more peace.
  • Overlook slight relapses or steps backward.
  • Develop an openness to the belief that people can change (but only if they want to) and realize that we can’t make other people change. The only thing we can change is ourselves.
  • Be open and honest with others about how you have been hurt.
  • Seek professional help when necessary for unhealthy, distant or cold relationships.
  • Recognize your part in what happened because “It takes two to fight”.
  • Identify and replace irrational beliefs that make it harder to forgive.

Ask Yourself:  How do you forgive others?

List something that you have been unable to forgive someone for.

How much energy, is sapped from you when you think about the hurt you went through?

What do I gain from blaming others for my feelings?

How can you put the past behind you and learn to trust again?

 

Revised from Messina, J. & Messina, C. (2009). Handling forgiving and forgetting. Retrieved from http://www.jamesjmessina.com/improvingrelationships/forgivingforgetting.html

 

Blog # 1 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN for Health Vista, Inc. 10-26-15

Updated 5-27-20

Resources for Recovery

Recovery Resources:

Many of the recovery resources were written while working with psychiatric patients. However, they were made to be helpful for recovery from other kinds of illness, or for general wellness or well-being. Many presentations and learning activities are shared in Health Vista’s resources for recovery.  They are organized under the seven elements of recovery, the same framework used for Recovery Education lessons.

Elements of Recovery:

  • Hope
  • Security
  • Support/Managing Symptoms
  • Empowerment
  • Relationships
  • Coping
  • Finding Meaning

Find resources for recovery from Health Vista

When I was working in Inpatient Behavioral Health, I started developing and writing simple but engaging and effective patient education and learning activities.

Through the years, I also collected a wide variety of free resources for recovery include Powerpoints and many other links for health education and motivation. I wanted to make them available for others to use. Although not all of the Recovery Education lessons are posted online, many of them are.  More may be added in the future, so check back often. Here are some examples:

You can find the Hopelessness to Hope Lesson handout here.

Click to see the Finding Hope Pathfinder. That recovery lesson was made into a video YouTube to help you toward the first step to recovery.  You can also use the Positive Words Discussion Guide.

Finding Hope Pathfinder narrated video

Click the title to watch another learning activity for Finding Your Way to Recovery

Recovery Workbooks:

I wrote many simple, clear, and short workbooks to share. I have donated some to community groups, but the cost of printing is too high to make them all free.  The workbooks have a cost, but they are on the healthvista.net website. Topics include Managing Pain,  Managing Long-term Pain, Managing Depression,  Managing Anger, Managing Addiction, Managing Illness, Managing Mental Illness, and Coping with Trauma.

Contact me by e-mail if you want to ask if some prices can be changed.  The following coping workbook is available free of charge:

Your Recovery Workbook: Coping and Relaxation  [.pdf] can be downloaded free and printed out. 

As you will see, my website contains many free, but very valuable resources,  Please browse and explore the lessons, handouts, learning activities, and links at https://healthvista.net/health-resources/recovery-resources/

I suggest that you start by Exploring Mindfulness . Then, begin  Taking Recovery Steps:

  • Ups and downs are to be expected – It is best to handle them as calmly as possible, using help and support to get back on track
  • Take small steps – You will get to where you are going (no matter how long it takes) if you go in the right direction
  • You feel more in control when you take the recovery steps at your own pace
  • In life, there is always hope, but sometimes you have to change what you are hoping for.
  • Be open to learning and change as you start your recovery journey

“I am not interested in the past. I am interested in the future, for that is where I expect to spend the rest of my life.”  – Charles F. Kettering

Updated 5-27-20 by Mary Knutson