Alcohol & Drugs

Experimentation with alcohol and drugs is common.  Unfortunately, most don’t see the link between their actions today and the consequences tomorrow.  They also have a tendency to feel indestructible and immune to the problems that others experience.

Using alcohol and tobacco at a young age has negative health effects. While some will experiment and stop, or continue to use occasionally, without significant problems.  Others will develop a dependency, moving on to more dangerous drugs and causing significant harm to themselves and possibly others. It is difficult to know who will experiment and stop and which will develop serious problems.  Those at risk for developing serious alcohol and drug problems include those:

  • with a family history of substance abuse
  • who are depressed
  • who have low self-esteem, and
  • who feel like they don’t fit in or are out of the mainstream

Many abuse a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal.  Legally available drugs include alcohol, prescribed medications, inhalants (fumes from glues, aerosols, and solvents) and over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep, and diet medications.  The most commonly used illegal drugs are marijuana (pot), stimulants (cocaine, crack, and speed), LSD, PCP, opiates, heroin, and designer drugs (Ecstasy).  The use of illegal drugs is increasing, especially among young teens.  The average age of first marijuana use is 14, and alcohol use can start before age 12.  The use of marijuana and alcohol in high school has become common.

Drug use is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including increased risk of serious drug use later in life, school failure, and poor judgment which may put individuals at risk for accidents, violence, unplanned and unsafe sex, and suicide.

Parents can prevent their children from using drugs by talking to them about drugs, open communication, role modeling, responsible behavior, and recognizing if problems are developing.

Warning signs of alcohol and drug abuse may include:

Physical: Fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, and a lasting cough.

Emotional: personality change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behavior, low self-esteem, poor judgment, depression, and a general lack of interest.

Family: starting arguments, breaking rules, or withdrawing from the family.

School: decreased interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences, truancy, and discipline problems.

Social problems: new friends who are less interested in standard home and school activities, problems with the law, and changes to less conventional styles in dress and music.

Some of the warning signs listed above can also be signs of other problems.  Parents may recognize signs of trouble and possible abuse of alcohol and other drugs with their teenager. If you have concerns you may want to consult a physician to rule out physical causes of the warning signs. This should often be followed or accompanied by a comprehensive evaluation by a psychiatrist or mental health professional.

Taken from:

Getting Help With Drugs and Alcohol

Whether you’re battling addiction or are suffering from a loved one’s addiction, chances are you’ve felt uncomfortable or embarrassed about your unstable life. Shame can cause a reluctance to talk about your experiences, for fear of being judged. Addiction creates a wall surrounding our emotions, but that wall must come down or recovery will fail. Support groups are non-judgmental and safe, and can be extremely helpful in tearing down these emotional barriers.

Dr. William Morrow, a licensed marriage and family therapist, wrote in the Fort Myers News-Press, “The truth is, coping with addiction requires a support group, whether you are the designated addictee or a family member. Support groups wonderfully generate the healing power which meets head-on the devastating and painful power of addiction.”

However, supports groups are no substitute for the alcohol or drug rehabs that offer important services that support groups don’t, such as detox. For help in finding the right rehab facility, call Treatment Solutions today at 888-318-7004.

Link to New Hampshire AA meeting times

Following the 12 steps…

Many support groups follow a 12-step treatment model with decades of proven success. The 12 steps function under a structure of anonymity, meaning that what is said during support group meetings is not repeated outside those walls. Other aspects of the 12-step program include personal accountability, and no self-pity or excessive guilt. The 12 steps teach members to recognize and understand their past failings and correct them, but not dwelling on the past.

12-step programs also offer help to their members beyond the meetings, which is key. Members typically exchange phone numbers and can call on each other during difficult times, like when an addict needs help with relapse prevention.

Support groups sometimes gather for social events, providing members an opportunity to have fun in a healthy, nurturing atmosphere. Battle Creek, MI’s Alano Club, which hosts 12-step meetings for a variety of addictions, has staged an “Off The Hook” BBQ festival featuring live music. In between bands, recovering addicts told the crowd their emotional and entertaining stories. ”It’s important to give addicts something to do socially, without alcohol and drugs,” Tony, a recovering addict, told the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Perhaps the best-known 12-step support group is Alcoholics Anonymous, or “AA,” a program of men and women who share their experiences, strength and hope to together recover from alcoholism. There are no membership dues in AA, and the only requirement for membership is having the desire to stop drinking. AA groups support themselves financially through voluntary member contributions.

Drug support groups

There are also 12-step programs geared specifically toward recovering drug addicts. Narcotics Anonymous is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, the main difference being its members are working to overcome an addiction to drugs, not alcohol. Cocaine Anonymous is a support group tailored to those with cocaine or crack addictions.

Other addiction support groups

In addition to helping those whose lives have been touched by substance abuse, the 12-step model has been incorporated into Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and Codependents Anonymous, which helps men and women recover from dysfunctional relationships.

Family support groups

Addiction is truly a family disease, and those who have been affected by the addict, regardless of whether that person is still using, can benefit greatly from their own support groups.

Al-Anon is a support group that serves not alcoholics, but their spouses and friends. Like AA, Al-Anon meetings have no required dues or fees, and are guided by the 12 steps of recovery. Al-Anon also includes a separate category of meetings for younger members, called Alateen. Nar-Anon is similar to Al-Anon, but offers for friends or family of drug addicts.

Taken from:


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

NH Assembly of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous

National Institute on Drug Abuse

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