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)

What is the stigma behind suicide? Here are a few marked differences in stigmas:

-Stigma: “A Mark that denotes a shameful quality in the individual so marked, or a quality that is considered to be shameful in a certain individual”

-Social Stigma: “Prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health problems as a result of the psychiatric label they have been given”

-Self Stigma: “Internalizing by the mental health sufferer of their perceptions of discrimination”

(seattleu.edu)

Examples of suicide stigmas – remember that each of these are harmful:

-Asking someone about suicide may plant the idea in their minds (false)

-Suicidal people are fully intent on dying (false)

-Everyone who dies by suicide is depressed (false)

(seattleu.edu)

Stigma can come from many areas of life including family, media, teachers, peers, and more. The reasoning behind why stigma can be so damaging is that it does not promote healthy recovery, it can negatively affect treatment outcomes, and it can negatively affect the perception of self and others. Stigma can be rooted internally and externally, and if not broken or addressed, may cause harm.

How to combat suicide stigma:

-Accept differences in others

-Don’t rely on stereotypes

-Offer a safe space to talk  

Resources:

https://www.seattleu.edu/wellness/mental/stigma/

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/

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

As the year ends, we start to think about the resolutions we want to set for the upcoming year. These resolutions or goals may be for physical health, new habits, finances, or focus on your mental health. Whatever the goal may be, making significant long-lasting change is difficult. When we fail to achieve these goals the first month of the year, we can increase our anxiety and become frustrated with ourselves.  

This New Year’s, we should set realistic, small, manageable goals for the New Year. The goals that we set should be thought-out and prepared with a plan to achieve this goal. A great way to achievable goals for this upcoming year is to use SMART goals.  

S –Specific  

M –Measurable  

A –Achievable 

R –Realistic  

T –Time-Bound 

Specific: Be specific in what you want to accomplish. Use who, what, when, why, and where when thinking about achieving your goal. This is the mission statement for your goal. 

Measurable: Make your goal measurable to track your progress. Ask yourself what metric system can be used to measure your goal? If your goal is a task that may take a few months to accomplish, then set milestones along the way to encourage the completion of the goal.  

Achievable: Set your goal to be achievable and focus on the importance of the goal. Ask yourself what is required to achieve this goal? How will you accomplish this goal? Remember that the goal is to motivate yourself and not discourage you.  

Realistic: Choose a realistic and attainable goal. If your goal is unrealistic such as learning a new language in one week, you are most likely setting yourself up for disappointment. You want to set a realistic goal that you can meet and increase your motivation to accomplish this goal.  

Time-Bound: Provide yourself with a realistic time frame to achieve your goal. If you allow yourself plenty of time to achieve your goal with small target dates along the way, this will increase motivation to meet your target goal (Borenstein, 2020).  

We want to set realistic, small, manageable goals to set ourselves up for success. After deciding on your SMART goal, we want to take the following steps: 

  • Start small: Setting a goal that you can keep.  
  • Change one behavior at a time: Do not get overwhelmed by trying to achieve your goal all at once. If your goal is to stop drinking soda, then start by cutting out one soda a day for a week rather than completely stopping drinking soda.  
  • Talk about your goal: Talk about your goals with family or friends. To help achieve your goal seek out an accountability partner.  
  • Do not beat yourself up: If you happen to take a minor setback, do not beat yourself up over it. Do not give up completely, and remember that perfection is not achievable. Resolve and recover from your mistakes and get back to attaining your goal.  
  • Ask for support: If you become overwhelmed or unable to achieve your goal, consider seeking professional help if needed. Therapy and Client Support Specialists can help you set realistic goals and help you build skills to attain those goals, along with helping you address emotions and unhealthy behaviors that may occur from not being able to achieve a specific goal (American Psychological Association, 2019).  

Resources 

American Psychological Association. (2019). Making your New Year’s resolution stick. American Psychological Association. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/behavioral-health/new-year-resolutions

Borenstein, J. (2020, March 19). Setting Mental Health Goals for the New Year. Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/setting-mental-health-goals-new-year

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

At Georgia HOPE, we believe in the strengthening of the family unit. We do so by providing affordable services to individuals and their families. More specifically, we offer parent skills training, individual/family counseling, and group counseling. With these services, we can assist you in meeting identified goals for yourself and your family. Whatever your need may be, we are here for your benefit. Georgia HOPE can also connect you to resources within your community based on need. For more information regarding our services, visit https://gahope.org/our-services/

Spending quality time with family is an inaugural part of child and adolescent development. Did you know that spending 15 short minutes a day with your child can lead to happier and healthier well-being? It can be as simple as watching a movie, playing a game, or baking cookies. Studies have shown that children are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use when they have more quality time with family. Children who engage in quality time regularly are less likely to experience behavioral issues at home and school. Children who have spent time with their families are more confident in themselves to succeed mentally and emotionally. 


Reference: https://extension.sdstate.edu/why-spending-quality-time-your-children-important

Written by: Taylor Luczynski