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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 July 5, 2019

        5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Yourself

        5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Yourself

        When it comes to being yourself, there can be a lot of pressure from the outside world as it tries to influence who you are. Living in a society that is constantly developing, it’s important for you to always be yourself from the inside out. When you deeply know yourself and the boundaries that you have set, you are more likely to experience a fulfilling and rewarding life. Without knowing yourself and establishing those boundaries, you can easily be pushed around and end up on a dirt path.

        “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” – Matthew 7:13-14

        You have the option of taking the path that is broad or taking the path that is narrow. You can either conform to what life wants you to be, or have the courage to remain true to yourself throughout the years. It’s definitely a challenge to have a strong sense of self when we are constantly getting distracted and being influenced by the media and society’s way of life. But if you want to reach your fullest potential in life, it all starts with being yourself.

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        Why should you always be yourself?

        Because you will:

        1. Live in alignment with your values and beliefs. Being yourself is all about knowing what you believe in and the values that you live by. When you are not yourself, you will take on the values and beliefs of others. This is when you start conforming to other people’s expectations and way of thinking. When you know your values and why you do what you do, you will live according to your own values and beliefs.
        2. Establish your own identity. When you are able to have a solid foundation of being you, you are establishing your own sense of identity. No matter what happens in your life, you will always know who you are. There will be times where you may feel lost or distracted, but if you have your own identity you’ll be able to get back on the right path. Without establishing your own identity, you may easily conform and lose yourself.
        3. Build courage. It takes a great amount of courage when you decide to take the path that goes against the crowd. The reason why the majority of people take the broad path is because it’s easy. It’s easy to just follow the crowd. It’s more of a challenge when you stay true to yourself and establish your own identity. This challenge of always being yourself takes courage and inner strength. No matter what comes your way, you’ll know how to handle it.
        4. Establish boundaries. When you are always yourself, you know what your limits are and the boundaries that you have set for yourself. When people cross your boundaries, you will know. But if you don’t establish boundaries, people may very well walk all over you and take advantage of you. If you are always yourself and you establish boundaries, you are more likely to be aware when people start taking advantage of you. Create and establish your boundaries.
        5. Find focus and direction. When you are always yourself, you are more likely to have focus and direction in your life. Imagine someone who is constantly conforming to other people’s expectations. Do you think this person has focus and direction? I don’t think so. When you stay true to who you are, you are more likely to know the goals you want to accomplish and how to go about accomplishing them. You are able to stay focused and know which direction to take in order for you to accomplish your goals.

        No matter what you experience in life, the only person that will always remain constant is you.

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        Featured photo credit: María Victoria Heredia Reyes via unsplash.com

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