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Battling Drug and Alcohol Abuse

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Woman sitting hunched over with a glass of red wine, looking contemplatively at the empty bottle beside her
Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse.

Stage One: Experimentation

  • Use is occasional, sporadic, often unplanned — weekends, summer nights, someone’s unsupervised party.
  • Use is precipitated by peer pressure, curiosity, thrill seeking, desire to look and feel grown-up.
  • Gateway drugs are usually used — cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, possibly inhalant abuse.
  • A drug high is easier to experience because tolerance has not been developed.

Parents may notice:

  • Tobacco or alcohol on the breath or intoxicated behavior.
  • Little change in normal behavior between episodes of drug use.

Stage Two: Regular Drug and/or Alcohol Use

  • Alcohol and other drugs are used not only on weekends but also on weekdays, not only with friends but when alone.
  • Quantities of alcohol and drugs increase as tolerance develops; hangovers become more common.
  • Blackouts may occur — periods of time in which drugs or alcohol prevent normal memories from forming “What happened last night?” becomes a frequent question.
  • More time and attention are focused on when the next experience will occur.
  • Fellow drinkers/drug users become preferred companions.

Parents may notice:

  • Son or daughter will be out of the house later at night, overnight, or all weekend.
  • School performance worsens-unexplained school absences.
  • Outside activities such as sports are dropped.
  • Decreased contact with friends who don’t use drugs.
  • Disappearance of money or other valuables.
  • Child withdraws from the family, is increasingly sullen and hostile.
  • User is caught in one or many lies.

Stage Three: In the Mire of Addiction

  • Alcohol and drugs become primary focus of attention.
  • Becoming high is a daily event.
  • There is a use of harder, more dangerous drugs.
  • More money is spent each week on drugs: theft or dealing may become part of drug-seeking behavior.
  • Adolescent displays increasing social isolation; no contact with non-drug-using friends; more drug use in isolation rather than socially.

Parents may notice the behaviors listed above, plus:

  • Escalation of conflicts at home.
  • Loss of nearly all control of the adolescent.
  • Possible discovery of a stash of drugs at home.
  • Arrest(s) for possession of and/or dealing drugs or for driving while intoxicated.

Stage Four: Drowning in Addiction

  • Constant state of intoxication; being high is routine, even at school or job (if there is any attendance at all.
  • Blackouts increase in frequency.
  • Physical appearance deteriorates — weight loss, infections, poor self-care. Injectable drugs are possibly used.
  • Involvement in casual sexual relationships (at times in exchange for drugs). User will likely be involved with theft, dealing, and other criminal activity.
  • Guilt, self-hatred, and thoughts of suicide increase.
  • Adolescent abandons any apparent interest in spiritual matters.

Parents are likely to be dealing with:

  • Complete loss of control of adolescent’s behavior, escalation of conflict, possibly to the point of violence.
  • Ongoing denial by user that drugs are a problem.
  • Increasing problems with the law and time spent with police, attorneys, hearings, court officials, etc.
  • Other siblings negatively affected because the family is preoccupied or overwhelmed by consequences of drug user’s behavior.

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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