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harm reduction

Harm Reduction and Parenting Drug and Alcohol Users

Your child’s drinking or getting high is worrisome and often a challenge to figure out what steps to take.  Flexibility and being open to different approaches to prevention, counseling and treatment for substance use is crucial. Harm reduction approaches can offer you an approach allowing you to get back into the ‘driver’s seat’ of family control if you find yourself in the passenger seat—or even worse, the back seat.

The philosophy of harm reduction is based on our knowledge that human beings will always be engaged in behaviors that carry risks, like alcohol and other drug use and unsafe sex. Harm reduction embraces the value of each person’s dignity and the respect of a person’s right to make choices. This shifts the focus from attempting to restrict or prohibit risky behaviors to reducing the negative consequences associated with them.

An Addiction Counselor's War on Drugs

The war in Afghanistan is now considered the longest war in United States history.

Wrong.

The US government’s "War on Drugs" recently turned 40. The longest war in American history by far has been for the most part under the radar of the general public now for four decades. Flashback: Nixon is president, hot pants are in, and Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" is the #1 song of the year.

I'm embarrassed to admit that it's been under my radar also until the publicity this summer about the 40th anniversary. Since then I’ve become aware of the work of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and the grassroots movement Moms United to End the War on Drugs, all of whom advocate for the reduction of the harm associated with drug policies and for policies, as suggested by LEAP, "grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights".

Substance Misuse Counseling 101 for Parents

Understanding some basic principles of substance misuse counseling will help you as parents develop an approach to intervening with your child.

Substance misuse is a problem that involves the interaction among physical, emotional, social (friends), and environmental (family, school) variables. In the course of our normal daily interaction with our kids, we’re usually aware of any physical, social, and environmental issues. Since children are often not able to articulate their emotional struggles well, we need to look at their behaviors as possible signs of conflict.

People use drugs for reasons. And our behavior, no matter what age, reflects choices we make based on how we think and feel. Also, as humans we tend to move towards rewarding activities and away from uncomfortable activities. Problems with drinking and drug use are associated with the harmful choices we make, often as ways of helping us feel better in the short run. Chemically, alcohol and drugs offer available options ways to self-medicate the uncomfortable feelings of daily life.

Is My Teenager Getting High?

The thought of your teenager getting high is scary.

“My kid?”

When you say those two words to yourself, you don't want to believe that your child could be involved in using drugs or alcohol, but you also don't want to ignore the possible early warning signs. So what do you do? We are often so worried that we become immobilized and lose sight of one of the basics of human communication:

WE ASK THEM….

If you think your child is drinking or using drugs, the most important thing to do is to come right out and ask. Research suggests that when we talk openly about drugs and drinking, children are more likely to have better self-control and develop more negative perceptions about these risky behaviors. The work you put into opening up lines of communication now can make all the difference in the future.

Some tips for how to ask:

1. Begin by preparing:

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