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Choosing Sobriety After Childhood Exposure to Substance Abuse

Choosing Sobriety After Childhood Exposure to Substance Abuse

With an estimated 27 million people over the age of 12 admitting to illicit drug use in 2014, believing your child is somehow immune to exposure to drugs or alcohol is simply no longer realistic in today’s society. While we would like to believe parents, teachers, and other authority figures in a child’s life are focused on protecting their charges from the harmful parts of life, sometimes this simply isn’t true. Sometimes children become intimately aware of drugs and alcohol within their own homes or the homes of their family members and friends.

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    For me, it was through my extended family – my ‘grandmother’, a cousin, aunts, and uncles. My mother was adamantly against drinking and drug use; for good reason, as her childhood was hellish as a direct side effect of her mother’s addictions and compounded mental illness. I have always been an observant person, so even with her attempts to guard me I noticed things.

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    I can recall the exact way the room smelled the first time I walked in on my cousin smoking marijuana. I can remember thinking it was strange that my aunt had so many needles, and the startling reality of just how thin and emaciated she grew toward the end of her life. I remember watching from my window as another cousin was arrested in front of his mother’s house for selling the small baggies of cocaine he always had on hand for his “friends.” I also remember walking pass drug dealers on my corner waiting for customers on my way to school.

    The 90s was a rough time in my old neighborhood. Admittedly, it is still on the rougher side of things.

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      Some say when children are exposed to drugs and alcohol at a young age they are more likely to indulge in illicit substances later in life. The statistics certainly seem to prove that, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Choosing sobriety after childhood exposure to substance abuse is entirely possible if you learn the lessons such exposure can teach you.

      Most addiction specialists believe that a genetic predisposition increases one’s risk of developing substance abuse disorders during their lifetime. It explains why some people do not develop addictions to drugs or alcohol while others are hooked after only one time using these substances. Having familial ties to addiction increases a child’s likelihood of forming addictive tendencies through exposure and “normalization” of drug and alcohol abuse. However, when a child recognizes the damage caused by substance abuse they can lead a life of sobriety.

      Just as I recall the details of my own second-hand experiences with addiction, remembering the consequences one witnesses in association with drugs or alcohol helps cement negative ties to illicit substances, discouraging experimentation.

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      Beyond the benefits in one’s own life, growing up to lead a sober lifestyle can inspire the next generation of children in similar situations to follow your lead. By advocating for sobriety and reaching out to at-risk children, you can be an integral part of ending addiction through prevention. Additionally, by speaking up, you can help other adult children of substance abusers struggling with their own versions of recovery.

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        When going through difficult times, people seek a reason to hope. You could be that reason. By showing that it is possible to experience a childhood of exposure to illicit substances and other childhood traumas, you can be what they aspire to be. One’s childhood does not have to be the blueprint for the remainder of one’s life.

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        Choosing sobriety after childhood exposure to substance abuse can open up a myriad of opportunities throughout life. When one is controlled by addiction, feeding cravings and avoiding withdrawal symptoms becomes an all-consuming obsession which leaves little room for other pursuits such as furthering education or career goals. By abstaining from drugs and alcohol, you are giving yourself the best foundation possible for pursuing your dreams. Let your success inspire others; let your story inspire the next generation.

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        Last Updated on January 3, 2020

        The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

        The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

        Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

        The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

        1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

        Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

         I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

        To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

        And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

         2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

        Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

        3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

        Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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        4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

        The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

        5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

        Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

        6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

        Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

        7. Positive people smile a lot!

        When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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        8. People who are positive are great communicators.

        They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

        9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

        One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

        10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

        Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

        How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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        I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

        Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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