If you have a loved one that has struggled with drug or alcohol addiction, you know that the entire family is deeply affected. Families often live in fear of death or serious injury. There are legal issues and financial strains. There are mental health implications. There is relational conflict and family structure changes. Because of the toll addiction takes on each family member, it is important that the whole family seek treatment. A good recovery program will offer counseling to the whole family and the process should include the family, whenever possible. The family can be involved at every stage of recovery. Here are some ways that family members can get involved:

  • Intervention or initiating treatment
  • Treatment planning
  • Family therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Educational groups/workshops
  • Support groups such as Al-anon, Alateen, Narc-anon 
  • Monitor symptoms to assist in relapse prevention planning and recovery maintenance
  • Give reminders and help with the organizational side of treatment
  • Provide alternatives to old substance using patterns, events and triggers
  • Involvement in recovery community and advocacy for those impacted by addiction

Seeking treatment together, shows the person with the substance use disorder that they have support and love from their family. Support systems are an integral part of a successful recovery journey, and individuals with family commitment have higher rates of long-term recovery. Here are some important reminders for families during the recovery journey:

  • Don’t lecture or get angry, be encouraging and optimistic
  • Be a safe person to talk to
  • If the loved one is in your home, don’t have drugs or alcohol there
  • Get educated about addiction and understand the recovery process
  • Be involved in treatment and the aftercare process 
  • Provide accountability and reinforcement 

The Benefits of Family Involvement in Recovery – JourneyPure At The River (journeypureriver.com)

How to involve the family in the treatment and recovery process (serenitylane.org)

Feeling anxious about the first day of school is natural for both children and parents. Supporting your child through this transition from summer time to school time can be tough; however, here are tips and tricks to help overcome those first day nerves and create an easier transition. 

Have a Consistent Sleep Routine in Place

-Having a consistent sleep routine can help regulate your child and help them transition into the new routine they will be in during school time. Starting this a few weeks before school starts can also help them prepare and be more comfortable when the first day of school comes. 

Comfy and Confident Clothing

-The night before that first day, help your child choose clothing that will be comfortable for them, but also helps them feel confident. Comfortable shoes, favorite t-shirts, fun accessories can all be confidence boosters to help your child feel ready for the new school year. 

Engage Your Child in Planning 

– Ask children what they might need from you in emotional support or in practical planning. They may come up with some wonderful ideas and their ideas will come back to them during the day when they are most anxious.

Talk Openly About What is Scary 

-At this age, it can seem like kids think about themselves all the time, but that doesn’t mean they’re self-aware. They might not know yet what’s making them nervous. And they might have trouble expressing their feelings. Some examples may look like:

“I see you’re a little stressed about starting school. Are you worried about moving between classes on your own?”

Or, “You had a hard time finding a group of kids you liked last year. Is that something you’re worried about this year?

Talk About School Supports

– Remind your child of the awesome support system that’s already in place and of all the people to go to for help. Your child could talk to a counselor, a case manager, the school nurse, or another staff member. If your child has a “go-to” person — maybe someone who helped a lot last year — try to meet with that person before school starts.

Resources:

https://www.understood.org/en/articles/6-tips-for-calming-first-day-jitters-in-grade-school

https://www.netnanny.com/blog/how-to-ease-the-first/

How we approach relationships as adults has much to do with what our childhood relationships looked like with parents, or primary caregivers. According to the Attachment Theory by John Bowlby, there are four attachment styles: secure, avoidant, anxious, and anxious-avoidant with the secure attachment style being the healthiest and, typically, most successful. 

Signs of a secure attachment style in childhood include:

-Demonstrating distress when separated from parent/caregiver but can be calmed down.

-Showing relief or joy when reunited with parent/caregiver

-Allowing the caregiver to console them when under distress

-Exploring their environment and taking risks, feeling comforted by knowing their caregiver will be there to support them. 

Signs of a secure attachment style in adults include:

-Being able to self-regulate emotions 

-Being able to cope with feeling or being alone

-Communicating and expressing when support is needed or emotional connection is 

desired

-Working through challenging times in a relationship proactively

-Knowing when to end a relationship or set boundaries when people they care about are emotionally unavailable

How to foster a secure attachment style in childhood and adulthood:

Childhood:

-Set routines and help child experience predictability 

-Healthily express a range of emotions and illustrate the importance of feelings 

-Encourage child to talk about emotions and feelings 

-Set obtainable expectations to help build self-esteem

-Keep their word and follow through with what they say they will do 

-Self-regulate their own emotions

Adulthood:

-Actively work on relationship with yourself

-Purge toxic or counterproductive relationships 

-Build your self-esteem

-Healthily express your emotions

-Work on healing past negative experiences in therapy

The week of May 2nd-8th is Screen-Free Week, this means that you take a break from all technology including the TV! The purpose of a screen-free week is to reinstate the joy of life outside of technology. 

Why is screen-free time important? This is because too much screen time can have harmful effects on children’s development. Here are some negative effects screen time can have: 

  • Children are rapidly learning the language at ages 1.5 to 3 years old. Studies show that these children learn better from a person than from a television show. Statistics have shown that those children who watched more tv than adult interactions performed less on reading tests in Elementary school. 
  • For children three or young, screen time can take away a crucial part of their development by limiting their exposed experiences and observations of the real world.
  • Premature thinning of the cortex in the brain using technology seven or more hours a day. This region is essential for cognitive functioning and is not supposed to start thinning until later development. 
  • Screens also impact the circadian rhythm and the production of melatonin. This is due to the blue light screen inhibiting melatonin production, decreasing sleep. 

What parental controls can be in place for safe screen time?

  • Watch TV shows with your child and add comments along the way to add personal commentary to help enable learning
  • Choose media-appropriate apps for your child
  • Keep meal-time, family time, and bedtime a screen-free space
  • Limit your own screen time because your child will modal after you
  • Set clear boundaries with all types of technology
  • Set specific time limits 
  • Plan ahead with consequences if technology rules are broken

Start today with monitoring and limiting technology use for you and your children. Challenge your family to participate in Screen-Free week May 2nd-8th 

Resources 

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Connected and content: Managing healthy technology use. American Psychological Association. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/topics/social-media-internet/healthy-technology-use

Coping with screens: 12 tips for balancing children’s mental health and technology use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Children and Screens. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.childrenandscreens.com/media/press-releases/coping-with-screens-12-tips-for-balancing-childrens-mental-health-and-technology-use-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Save this to read later. Send to email 11 Min Read •Children’s Health. (2021, November 3). What does too much screen time do to kids’ brains? NewYork-Presbyterian. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://healthmatters.nyp.org/what-does-too-much-screen-time-do-to-childrens-brains/

By: Hailey Robertson

Postpartum Depression is defined as a severe, long-lasting form of depression after the birth of a baby. 

Most new mothers experience a form of postpartum called “baby blues” that last typically one to two weeks after the baby is born. Postpartum depression is a more severe form of the “baby blues” with more severe and long-lasting symptoms.

Baby Blues symptoms:               vs.              Postpartum Depression symptoms:

  • Mood swings                               
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling Overwhelmed 
  • Crying 
  • Reduced Concentration
  • Appetite Problems

Postpartum Depression is not limited to just mothers; fathers can also develop postpartum depression, especially new fathers. The symptoms present the same as they do in mothers. 

Risk factors for Postpartum Depression for men: 

  • Young
  • History of Depression
  • Relationship problems
  • Struggling financially 

Postpartum Anxiety commonly occurs alongside Postpartum Depression. But Postpartum Anxiety comes with its distinct symptoms. 

Postpartum Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Cannot feel relaxed
  • A constant sense of worry
  • Constant thoughts that something terrible will happen to the baby
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Dizziness or nausea 

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Treatment

Postpartum Depression or Anxiety can be treated through various options: 

  • Reach out to medical provider with PPD or PPA concerns
  • Seek professional through Mental Health providers for Therapy or support from a Client Support Specialist

Resources 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2018, September 1). Postpartum depression. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617 

By: Megan Eckles (Therapist/Training Specialist)

What is considered sexual assault?

According to the US Department of Justice, sexual assault is defined as means any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center mentions that the are several forms of sexual violence, which include:

  • Rape
  • Child sexual assault and incest
  • Sexual assault by a person’s spouse or partner
  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual exploitation and trafficking
  • Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
  • Masturbating in public
  • Watching someone engage in private acts without their knowledge or permission
  • Nonconsensual image sharing

Who is impacted by sexual assault?

Victims of sexual violence include people of all ages, races, genders, and religions — with and without disabilities.

  • Nearly one in five women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives.
  • In the United States, 1 in 71 men have experienced rape or attempted rape.
  • An estimated 32.3% of multiracial women, 27.5% of American Indian/Alaska Native women, 21.2% of non-Hispanic black women, 20.5% of non-Hispanic white women, and 13.6% of Hispanic women were raped during their lifetime (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2022).

The Facts:

  • Victims often know the person who sexually assaulted them.
  • People who sexually abuse usually target someone they know.           
    • Nearly 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew
    • 1 out of 5 were committed by a family member (RAINN, 2022). 

How to seek help:

National Sexual Assault Hotline:

1-800-656-4673

What can be done?

  • Raising awareness
  • Supporting survivors 
  • Getting involved to help change laws and policies regarding crimes of sexual violence and how survivors are treated

Resources:

https://www.nsvrc.org

https://www.rainn.org

https://www.nsvrc.org/about-sexual-assault

By: Megan Eckles (Therapist/Training Specialsit)

What are the facts?

  • 1 in 7 children experienced abuse of neglect within the last year (CDC, 2022). 
  • In 2020 Georgia ranked 38th in the nation for child well-being (Georgia Division of Family and Children Services).

Types of Abuse

  • Physical Abuse: injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker other than by accidental means​
  • Neglect: parent or caretaker allows a child to experience avoidable suffering or fails to provide basic essentials for physical, social, and emotional development​
  • Emotional Abuse: parent or caretaker creates a negative emotional atmosphere for the child ​
  • Sexual Abuse: any adult or older or more powerful child employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any minor to engage in any form of sexual intercourse​
  • Endangering a Child: a person intentionally allows a child under the age of 18 to witness the commission of a forcible felony, battery, or family violence, and/or a person knows that a child under the age of 18 is present and sees or hears the act, commits a forcible felony, battery, or family violence (Georgia Division of Family and Children Services).

Warning Signs of Abuse

Mayo Clinic notes multiple signs and symptoms of abuse.

  • Withdrawal from friends or usual activities
  • Changes in behavior — such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity — or changes in school performance
  • Depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence
  • An apparent lack of supervision
  • Frequent absences from school
  • Reluctance to leave school activities, as if he or she doesn’t want to go home
  • Attempts at running away
  • Rebellious or defiant behavior
  • Self-harm or attempts at suicide

What can I do?

As a mandated reporter, you are required to make a DFCS report. According to GA law, failure to report abuse can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

How to Report:

Child abuse and/or neglect reports are taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A report can be submitted on online via the portal or by paper and faxed in.

1.855.GACHILD (+1 855-422-4453)

Resources:

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services: https://dfcs.georgia.gov

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/index.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/child-abuse/symptoms-causes/syc-20370864

http://www.pcageorgiahelpline.org

Self-harm: this is when one hurts themselves as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings.

Some individuals self-harm as a way to:

-express their feelings when it is hard to put into words

-change emotional pain into physical pain

-reduce overwhelming feelings

-punish themselves for their feelings and experiences

-express suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking their own life

Ways individuals self-harm: 

-cutting yourself

-over-eating or under-eating

-biting yourself

-hitting yourself or walls

-pulling your hair

-picking or scratching at your skin

How to overcome self-harm:

  • Learn to recognize triggers: triggers are people, places, situations, sensations, or events that cause specific thoughts or feelings. 
  • Become aware of the urge to self-harm: being able to recognize urges helps an individual take steps towards reducing or stopping self-harm. 

Urges can include:

-strong emotions like sadness or anger

-racing heart or feelings of heaviness

-disconnection from yourself or a loss of sensation

-unhealthy decisions, like working too hard to avoid feelings 

-repetitive thoughts about harming yourself

  • Identify distractions: identify distractions that can help distract the urge to self-harm. 
  • Keep a diary: a diary can help keep track and understand self-harming behaviors. This is useful to keep track of what occurred before, during, and after self-harming. After a period of time, the diary can help spot patterns of self-harming behaviors (Melinda, 2022). 
  • Use coping techniques: to help overcome self-harm, an alternate coping skill needs to take its place. 
  • If self-harm is to express pain and intense emotion: paint, draw, journal, write a poem, listen to music
  • If self-harm is to calm or soothe: take a hot bath, pet an animal, use a warm blanket, massage your neck, hands, and feet, listen to calming music
  • If self-harm is to disconnect or numb pain: call a friend, take a cold shower, hold ice in hand, chew something with a strong taste
  • If self-harm is to release tension or vent anger: exercise, punch a cushion, squeeze a stress ball, rip something up, make noises with instrument, bang pots and pans
  • Seek professional help: trained professionals can help direct towards overcoming cutting or other self-harming habits. 

Client Support Specialist: a CSS can help identify triggers and develop coping skills.

Therapy: a therapist can help explore past or current trauma that may be triggering self-harming behaviors and can assist in helping develop coping skills (Self-harm, 2020). 

Resources

Melinda. (2022, February 7). Cutting and self-harm. HelpGuide.org. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/cutting-and-self-harm.htm

Self-harm 2020 – mind. (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/5783/self-harm-2020.pdf

Self-esteem is defined as the overall opinion of yourself. This is determined by the feelings you have towards your abilities and your limitations. Everyone has a self-esteem, but each person differentiates between low or just right self-esteem. 

Low self-esteem is characterized as ones focus on perceived weaknesses and faults and they give no or little lack of credit to their skills or assets. 

Healthy self-esteem is characterized as a good balance and accurate view of self and has a good opinion of abilities but also recognizes their faults. 

Most individuals fall between the range of low and healthy self-esteem, but there are a significant number of individuals who battle with low self-esteem. 

So, how can we boost self-esteem so that healthy self-esteem is attainable? 

Here are four steps to take to achieve healthy self-esteem:

  1. Identify troubling conditions: think about the conditions or situation that tend to deflate your self-esteem. 

Some common influences of self-esteem can be:

-Your thoughts and perceptions

-How others react to you

-Experiences at home, school, work, and in the community

-Illnesses, disability, or injury

-Age

-Role and status in society

-Media messages 

  1. Become aware of thoughts: Once you have identified the troubling condition(s), pay attention to your thoughts about them. 

Ask yourself, is what I am thinking true? Would you say these thoughts to a friend? If the thoughts you are having is something that you would not say to a friend then you should not say them to yourself. 

  1. Challenge negative thinking: Initial thoughts may not be the only way to view a situation. 

You want to ask yourself if your thoughts line up with the facts of the situation? Is there other explanation to the situation other than my initial thought? 

  1. Adjust your thoughts and beliefs: Replace negative or inaccurate thoughts with accurate and constructive thoughts.

-Adjust your negative thoughts to positive ones

-Use encouraging words to yourself 

-Forgive yourself if applicable 

Once healthy self-esteem has been attained then we can enjoy the benefits. 

Benefits of healthy self-esteem include: 

  • Able to form secure and honest relationships
  • Assertive in expressing your needs and opinions
  • Confident in your ability to make decisions
  • Realistic in your expectations and less likely to be overcritical with yourself
  • Resilient and better able to weather stress and setbacks 

And most importantly to feel good, secure, and increased self-worth (Mayo, 2020). 

Resources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, July 14). Does your self-esteem need a boost? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 17, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/self-esteem/art-20047976

Did you know that there were approximately 14,000 children in foster care in the state of Georgia last year? Two thousand seven hundred forty of these children have a foster home with the intent to adopt. Out of those children, there are 350 children in need of a safe and loving home. 

Do you find yourself considering adoption? Think about how you would be impacting a child’s life by welcoming them into your home. While some children were given to the state voluntarily by their parents, there are many cases where children were removed from their homes. This could be due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. By adopting a child, you are giving HOPE to younger generations. You are making a difference, one child at a time. For more information, visit https://dfcs.georgia.gov/services/adoption.

Building a bond with an adopted child can be challenging but not impossible. So how do you build attachment with a new child or adolescent? First, be mindful that it will take time to happen naturally, so do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Some helpful ways to encourage bonding include creating routines, playing, taking a family photo, or establishing permanency. With a bit of creativity and perseverance, you can create the connection you both desire.

References: https://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/state-information/georgia
https://mljadoptions.com/blog/eight-attachment-techniques-to-use-with-your-adopted-child-20140820

Written by: Taylor Luczynski