Tag Archives: parents

Mental Health: Parenting Young Men With Heart, Not Guilt

mental health

It’s incredibly beneficial when a patient’s family takes part in their son’s addiction and mental health disease recovery. Mothers and fathers influence their loved one’s struggles with mental illness, for better or worse. That isn’t to say that the parent is responsible for causing the psychological issues their child is battling, but parents can unwittingly contribute to their child’s downward spiral. In order to prevent unhealthy familial interactions post-treatment, it is critical that parents learn how to support without enabling.

At PACE Recovery Center, we work closely with the parents of our young male clients. One of our primary goals is to illustrate that their role in their child’s recovery can affect long-term outcomes. We teach parents about the importance of establishing boundaries. We show them how to say “no” without guilt, and we help recognize which practices may enable self-defeating or destructive behaviors.

Actions done in the name of love can have the unintended effect of crippling the individual a parent is trying to help. Some will go to extraordinary lengths for their children. When it comes to families with healthy boundaries, unfettered love and support is helpful. However, when the opposite is true, codependent enabling causes trouble for both parent and child alike. When addiction and mental health treatment is put off, conditions worsen, and connections are strained further due to unconstructive parent/child relationships.

The Most Enabling Mother in America?

A few years back, PACE Recovery was approached by Dr. Phil to help a young man struggling with substance use and behavioral health issues. The PACE team agreed to take on the case, and also worked with the family during his care – this is because mental illness is a two-sided problem. It is important to reiterate that successful recovery outcomes often hinge upon total family recovery. Healing is contingent upon all concerned parties making healthy changes; at PACE, our clinicians teach parents how to make those changes last.

Recently, Dr. Phil thought of PACE again in another case involving a young man struggling with myriad mental health conditions. Viewers of Dr. Phil may have had an opportunity to watch an episode titled “The Most Enabling Mother in America?” For those who haven’t viewed the segment, it involves Jai, a 20-year-old living with his mother, who was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder at age 11. As an adult, preliminary observation suggests that Jai meets the criteria for a cannabis use disorder and possibly bipolar disorder as well.

Jai has had a rough start in life, beginning with abandonment issues stemming from his parents’ divorce. In high school, he was plagued by both cancer and a nearly life-threatening infection; his illness led to dropping out of high school. To alleviate some of Jai’s symptoms, with his mother’s concurrence, he opted for medical marijuana. While the sickness has fortunately subsided, the cannabis use remains steady. Jai reports smoking about an eighth of an ounce per day, partly to mute his fits of rage.

Making matters worse, his mother Amy admits that she has enabled her son’s self-destructive behavior. She instructs him to make something of himself (earn a GED and get a job), while simultaneously allowing him to steamroll over her and everyone else.


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Transitioning Into Recovery

Amy is not the cause of her son’s mental health issues, but she acknowledges that her enabling contributes to Jai’s unwillingness to make changes. Dr. Phil recommended that Amy and Jai turn to PACE for assistance. Dr. Phil explains that:

PACE Recovery Center is a gender-specific extended care program for men that are struggling with two different things. One is any kind of chemical dependency, and more importantly when it’s happening co-morbidly with mental health issues. They are in Costa Mesa [California]. They help clients develop life skills, so you can get traction in your life and get control of the mental health issues, get control of the addiction issues, and come out with a plan. And these guys [PACE] are as good as they come at that — I’ve never seen better.

Dr. Phil goes on to ask PACE Executive Director/Founder Lenny Segal, LMSW, MBA, if they can help. Responding to Dr. Phil from the audience, Mr. Segal speaks directly to Jai and his mother:

We certainly can, Dr. Phil. We work with young guys like you from all over the country. When you come to PACE, we’ll be able to first address the mental health issues, get you properly diagnosed, properly medicated. Support that with all different types of psychotherapies. Help you get your GED and any continued education and life skills and to be able to help the family system. You folks love each other, you folks have to be separated for a period of time and for you to be able to do some concentrated work, so you can actually parent from a place of heart, not guilt.

Mental Health Treatment for Young Men

In closing, if your son is struggling with addiction or mental health issues, we invite you to contact PACE Recovery Center. We’ve created a setting where men are allowed to express their fears, sadness, shame, and guilt in a non-judgmental environment. We help young men and their families toward their goal of leading a healthy, productive life in recovery.

Parental Provision of Alcohol Use

alcohol use

Parents want the best for their kids. Mothers and fathers take steps to ensure their children have as little risk exposure as feasible. Preventing one’s son or daughter from making mistakes is no easy challenge; a task which gets more difficult as children mature. The majority of people with children shield their kids from engaging in alcohol and substance use as much as possible. Many parents understand the risks of developing unhealthy relationships with substances at a young age, notably the risk of alcohol use disorder or drug addiction.

Going one step further, a good number of parents grasp the susceptibility of developing brains. Adolescents who experiment with drugs and alcohol use are at an exponentially higher risk of developing alcohol or substance use disorders. With that in mind, it’s entirely critical that parents not do anything that might encourage the development of such problems.

There is a mindset shared by a good many parents, the idea that teenage alcohol use is safe when they, as parents, manage the conditions of use. The resignation that teens are going to drink alcohol regardless of the wisdom imparted to them by their elders leads to the above course of thinking. Some parental units decide that they alone can teach their children how to deal with alcohol responsibly, i.e., moderation, not drinking and driving, etc. Notwithstanding parents’ ability to justify supplying their teens with alcohol, scientific evidence suggests that the behavior may lead to more detriment than benefit.

Parental Provision of Alcohol Use

A long-term study involving 1927 teenagers aged 12 to 18 and their parents, should help to debunk some of the myths mothers and fathers have about alcohol. The six-year analysis shows no significant benefits tied to providing teens alcohol, The Lancet reports. In fact, one could interpret the findings as evidence that parental provisional alcohol use heightened the risk of problems down the road. The researchers point out that alcohol use is the number one cause of “death and disability in 15-24-year-olds globally.”

The research indicates that when parents supply teens with alcohol in one year, it doubled the risk the teens would access alcohol from other people in the following year, according to the article. The same teens were found at most significant risk of engaging in binge drinking and experiencing harm from alcohol use; notably, alcohol abuse, dependence, and alcohol use disorders. There’s no evidence to support the idea that parents supplying teens with alcohol leads to responsible alcohol use.

In many countries, parents are a key provider of alcohol to their children before they are of legal age to purchase alcohol. This practice by parents is intended to protect teenagers from the harms of heavy drinking by introducing them to alcohol carefully, however, the evidence behind this has been limited,” says lead author Professor Richard Mattick, University of New South Wales. “Our study is the first to analyse parental supply of alcohol and its effects in detail in the long term, and finds that it is, in fact, associated with risks when compared to teenagers not given alcohol. This reinforces the fact that alcohol consumption leads to harm, no matter how it is supplied. We advise that parents should avoid supplying alcohol to their teenagers if they wish to reduce their risk of alcohol-related harms.”

Binge Drinking

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as when men consume 5 or more drinks, or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Essentially, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period. The risks of this behavior are many, and young people rarely understand the inherent pitfalls of heavy alcohol use. What’s more, parents are not an exception; otherwise, they may think twice about introducing their children to alcohol in any environment.

At the end of the study, binge drinking was reported among:

  • 81% of teenagers who accessed alcohol through their parents and others reported binge drinking.
  • 62% of those who accessing alcohol from other people only.
  • 25% of teens whose only supply came from parents.

It’s worth mentioning that the longer a person refrains from substance use of any kind, the better. Adolescence does not end until a person is in their mid-twenties, which means the brain is still developing. Exposing our most important organ to alcohol while it’s taking shape can cause many problems, including mental illness. The effects alcohol has on the brain tend to be more pronounced when heavy alcohol use occurs. Notwithstanding the laws that allow for alcohol use, everyone can benefit from using alcohol as intermittently and sparingly as possible.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Adolescent alcohol use often progresses to alcohol use disorder in young adulthood. Once that transition occurs, there is no turning back the clock. However, those caught in the grips of alcoholism can recover, provided they have help.

Recovery Support for the Parents of Addicts

recoveryWhen we talk about addiction recovery, we speak on what it takes for people living with a substance use disorder to change their life for the better. Everyday people turn to addiction treatment programs and/or 12-Step recovery meetings to learn how to live life clean and sober. It is often said that the easiest part of recovery is putting down mind altering substances, the hard part is not picking them up again. This is a fact that can be clearly supported by the rate of relapse in early recovery. That aside, if newcomers are willing to take certain steps and follow the guidance of those who have managed to maintain long term continuous sobriety, recovery is possible.

Recovering alcoholics and addicts rely on one another to stay the course, without one’s peers life can quickly fall apart. The same can be said for the families of people living with addiction. Addiction affects entire families, watching a loved one slowly self-destruct takes its toll on others. Mothers and fathers find themselves brought to the brink of despair, a byproduct of the realization that their children’s addiction is out of their control. There is a reason why many primary care addiction treatment facilities have family programs. Families often lack the tools to cope with their loved one’s addiction, they often do not understand how this could happen and why there are changes they need to make in their own lives.

Families often struggle to find people they can talk to about their son or daughter’s addiction, especially since there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the disease. Many people continue to view addiction as a moral failing or that somehow addiction is the result of bad parenting. The aforementioned idea, could not be further from the truth as is evident by the millions of Americans abusing prescription opioids and heroin, or the 70 plus overdose deaths every day. The opioid epidemic has brought addiction out into the light; more and more people are accepting that addiction is a mental illness that is out of the control of both the addict and their loved ones.

There are a number of outlets that parents can turn to for support. Just as those in recovery lean on each other, parents can find support from other parents who are facing the same reality, i.e., Al-Anon. And now, even if you live in rural America, where prescription opioids and heroin have taken thousands of sons and daughters, you can find support – all one needs is an internet connection. In fact, thousands of mothers of opioid addicts connect with each other online, The Wall Street Journal reports. Online support groups have become beacons of hope across the country, ranging from as small as five individuals to tens of thousands. The Addict’s Mom (TAM), a place to “share without shame,” has more than 70,000 members on Facebook.

For probably 10 years I had no one to talk to about it. I had my head down like a guilty parent,” says Margaret Worthen, a member of a small support group called Soul Sisters, “All the sudden I had other women, other good moms all going through the same thing.”

Here at PACE Recovery Center our treatment team, many of whom are Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, takes an active role in working with our clients and their families to define their goals and move towards these goals.

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