Enablers Worsen Addiction

Marie BergloffThis was a column written by Marie Bergloff and published in the Kanabec County Times on January 16, 2014. Click here to view the original column.

Addiction comes in many forms. We have public awareness on the addict’s behavior, with lesser emphasis on an additional component of addiction; enabling or codependency.

Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addicts). Many of us may have no knowledge of how we could be contributing to an addict’s addiction(s). The reality is…we do it, often without knowing.

From my experience both professionally and personally, there have been many situations that I have seen these actions carried out. As a licensed alcohol and drug counselor in our community, I have watched spouses, parents and children “take care of” their family members and friends.

For example, a parent who gives the client money to pay the bills (that never get paid) or parents who pay rent or bills themselves so their adult children won’t become homeless or hungry.

An inmate’s spouse shows as a witness to plead for his defense that “he wouldn’t have beaten her except his friends made him use drugs, and he won’t do it if he comes home this time.”

Or a child who has “raised” her parent because the parent wasn’t able to care for themselves much less the child. The child also had to care for their siblings.

Personally, prior to understanding codependency/enabling, I took care of my boyfriend and made sure he wasn’t fired from his job by calling in sick for him or calling his co-worker to take the shift so it would be covered, saying he was sick or the car was broken or some other creative excuse.

Another example that I’ve seen is the wife driving her spouse around fearing that he will get a DUI if she doesn’t because the family can’t afford to have him without a license and unable to work.

I have even seen a parent purchase opiates for their child because they don’t want to see their adult child suffer through the withdrawals the child may experience without it.

In my opinion, the generation I grew up in, society and tradition deemed that we are to “stand by our man” and that parents don’t abandon their children, but the why’s and how’s of how it is done is the issue.

Females are nurturers by genetics, and we tend to be blind-sided by our own motives for the choices we make. My previous example of care-taking my boyfriend was for fear of abandonment. Thankfully, a wise person led me to Alanon and I regained my independence and self confidence. I no longer worry about being in a relationship versus an individual. I am happy with myself and who I am as a person.

What we may fail to remember is that humans don’t do anything without gaining something. The gain could be as simple as “it makes me feel good.” Human beings also don’t change behaviors unless the pain becomes more than the pleasure. The consequence has to be worse than the high we are getting.

Another aspect of addiction and codependency is that enabling is a form of control. As long as they use, we, as codependents, feel needed and in control of their surroundings. If they do get sober/clean, codependents lose that feeling of being needed and the perceived control. This is also an unconscious act.

A codependent may not realize this is the motive until they take an internal look at their own thoughts and behaviors that accompany the actions. This is a subtle, sneaky aspect of dysfunctional behaviors. It creeps into the family roles suddenly.

There is a solution. We can take care of ourselves, have healthy boundaries, detach from the emotional drain, have faith that they will survive until they recover, and accept that the outcome is out of our hands.

There are many resources available to help addicts and their friends and family. There are 12-step meetings called Alanon that can teach what is needed and give the support necessary. Another possibility is individual therapy with a licensed family therapist or psychologist. Finally, if the addict is in treatment, attendance at family programming may be available.

For more information on addiction, codependency and treatment email serenitymanor@qwestoffice.net.

Marie Bergloff is a counselor at Serenity Haven in Mora, Minnesota and a member of the Substance Abuse Coalition of Kanabec County (SACK). SACK is administered by Kanabec County Public Health. For more information about the coalition visit www.sackcoalition.org.

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101+ Fun Things to Do in Kanabec County

skateboardCoalition members are working on a list of 101 Things to Do in Kanabec County. We are currently a few activities short and need your help! Please send your ideas to sackcoalition@gmail.com. Thanks!

  1. Swim at Mora or Ogilvie pools
  2. Play football
  3. Play basketball
  4. Play volleyball
  5. Play tennis
  6. Participate in school sports
  7. Play dodgeball
  8. Act in a school or community theater play
  9. Play music
  10. Listen to music
  11. Be in a band
  12. Play in the school band
  13. Sing in the school choir
  14. Write poetry
  15. Write music
  16. Go hunting
  17. Go fishing
  18. Shoot Trap
  19. Shoot Skeet
  20. Go bowling
  21. Play softball
  22. Grow a garden at home or at the community garden
  23. Ski in the Vassaloppet
  24. Join 4-H
  25. Join Girl Scouts
  26. Join Boy Scouts
  27. Go to the Teen Center
  28. Volunteer with Circle of Friends
  29. Volunteer with Industries
  30. Volunteer with your church
  31. Join a church youth group
  32. Go to the Braham Community center
  33. Take a Community Ed class
  34. Teach a Community Ed class
  35. Volunteer at a nursing home or senior living center
  36. Babysit
  37. Mow a neighbor’s yard
  38. Participate in summer activities through the schools
  39. Work
  40. Dance
  41. Snapchat
  42. Draw
  43. Paint
  44. Do arts and crafts
  45. Go hiking
  46. Go for a walk
  47. Rollerblade
  48. Run
  49. Play ghost in the graveyard
  50. Have a bonfire
  51. Ski
  52. Swim in the lakes or rivers
  53. Play hockey
  54. Facebook
  55. Play disk golf
  56. Play ultimate frisbee
  57. Play frisbee
  58. Take a dog for a walk
  59. Ride a horse
  60. Tae Kwon Do
  61. Pinterest
  62. Cook
  63. Gymnastics
  64. Freeze mob
  65. Flash mob
  66. Karate
  67. Build a snowman
  68. Read a book
  69. Zumba
  70. Yoga
  71. Have a bon fire
  72. Watch movies
  73. Go to the movies
  74. Go on a hay ride
  75. Visit a corn maze
  76. Camp
  77. Play soccer
  78. Ride a bike
  79. Tweet
  80. Go to Banning State Park
  81. Go to the Native American Museum in Milaca
  82. Go the Fire Museum in Hinckley
  83. Go to the Fur Trading Co in Pine City
  84. Go to a concert in the park
  85. Go to the school or community theater performance
  86. Make a movie
  87. Write a book
  88. Snowshoe
  89. Snowmobile
  90. Play Golf
  91. Shop
  92. Canoe
  93. Kayak
  94. Train for a 5k or marathon
  95. Ice skate
  96. Skateboard
  97. Search for agates
  98. Go tubing
  99. Garden
  100. Work
  101. Raise animals
  102. Learn to knit or quilt
  103. Play board or card games
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The Cell Phone Jungle

Young Girls Operating Cell Phones with a Young Boy (10-14) Standing Behind ThemRing, Beep, Chirp, Buzz…. Ever find yourself feeling like you have been dropped in the middle of a jungle? In the middle of a jungle full of new sounds and accompanying fears of what that sound may hold for your child. Sounds that can make a lions roar seem tame. Cell phones, nearly all teens have them and are gaining earlier access every year. Concerns regarding bullying have been a spotlight issue in recent months and a topic of great concern for many parents. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to make the ding that goes off on your teen’s phone seem less concerning to you, click to learn about encouraging responsible cell phone use.

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Safe Internet Access

MC900059129Are you a parent of a teenager? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the new technology? Know that you are not the only one! Today’s teens are more connected than ever before with many having the world and all of its information, both good and bad, right at their fingertips. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to keep your teen safe when accessing the internet, click here.

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Talk about drugs, alcohol in back to school prep

This was a column written by Sara Rossow and published in the Kanabec County Times on August 15th, 2013. Click here to view the original column.

As the summer days become shorter and the “Back to School” sale signs appear in the storefront windows, families begin to make preparations to return to the routine and structure of the school year.

Parents must purchase school supplies, find the “right” pair of sneakers, fill out a ream of school forms, and begin talking with their children about the upcoming school year.

We might talk with our kids about our expectations for their grades, about which activities they will participate in after school, and maybe even talk about “big” issues like bullying or being a good friend.

One conversation that often does not happen until it is too late is a conversation about tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. Parents may assume their kids know their expectations about substance use. They may also worry that if they bring it up, it will “plant seeds” in their kids’ heads and their kids would be more likely to use.

They may not be sure what to say or how to say it and so just don’t say anything at all. They may also think that if they ever irresponsibly used substances in the past, that they might worry that it is hypocritical to have expectations for their own children. They might think that their kids won’t listen to them anyway because they are “old” and irrelevant.

We know that parents have a huge influence on their kids – even their teenage children. The Partnership for a Drug Free America states on their website that “Parents have more influence over their child than friends, music, TV, and Internet and celebrities.” In fact, kids whose parents teach them about the risks of drugs and alcohol are up to 50 percent less likely to use substances than those who don’t.

This conversation doesn’t have to be a lecture. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be a lecture. Use natural moments to have those “big conversations” – maybe it can happen while you’re out in the boat, working in the garden, or even while you’re driving them somewhere in the car. When you notice someone engaging in troubling behavior in the news or on a television show, talk about it.

My own children are fairly young but they know that smoking is unhealthy, that alcohol is for adults over the age of 21, and that illegal drugs should never be used by anyone. These conversations can begin as soon as they can notice alcohol advertisements or see someone smoking a cigarette.

As your child gets older, the conversations can and should continue. It is important that parents make their expectation regarding substance use clear and to also be clear about what the consequences will be if their child breaks their trust. Our coalition recommends creating a contract, in writing, that outlines those expectations and consequences. You can find guidelines for creating this contract at http://www.sackcoalition.org/family-contract.html.

I urge parents not to underestimate the power and influence they have in the lives of their kids. It is easy to see the eyerolls, the long sighs, and the disdainful looks and assume that our kids could care less what we think.

The reality is, that all kids want to make their parents proud and they want their parents to provide boundaries.

Letting your child know that you do not want them to use chemicals is providing a boundary and communicating that you care about their well-being. If you would like more guidance in how to have conversations with your kids or have any other questions about parenting, please feel free to call met at Mora High School at 320-679-6220. I’m there to help.

Sara Rossow is a school social worker at Mora Public School and a member of the Substance Abuse Coalition of Kanabec County (SACK). SACK is administered by Kanabec County Public Health. For more information about the coalition visit www.sackcoalition.org.

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Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Schools

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) just released a suicide prevention toolkit for schools. According to SAMHSA, this resource, “Assists high schools and school districts in designing and implementing strategies to prevent suicide and promote behavioral health.” The toolkit includes everything you need to get started including data and fact sheets. Also included are protocols for helping students at risk for suicide, what to do after a suicide, tools for staff education and training as well as parent outreach, student programs and screening tools. Click here to visit SAMHSA’s website and download the toolkit.

Thanks to Sara Rossow for submitting this resource.

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