Editor’s Note: This article is not meant to replace treatment by a professional therapist, psychiatrist or licensed clinical social worker.
isn’t the only entity in the area looking to raise awareness of drug and alcohol among area teens and young adults.
When word spread about the school district sending out robo calls to parents, asking them to , it struck a familiar chord with Priscilla Steinmetz, founder and executive director of the .
Steinmetz has spent the last 20 years helping parents and teens connect with each other to sort through an array of issues. Over time she came up with a few suggestions to do so, which can apply to drug and alcohol concerns, both for family members and friends.
Look For a Routine Change
“Any time I see a change in behavior or in a routine in someone I simply ask why,” Steinmetz said. “Sometimes we can over think this, but if you notice a clear difference in a person’s behavior, there’s no harm in asking about it.”
Forget The Picket Fence
Issues once exclusive to inner cities are now commonplace in our “white picket fence” suburbs. Don’t be ashamed of your situation when things get messy. Be aware of the world around you, and do not be afraid to reach out for help or gain information about topics that might impact your teen.
Steinmetz added that people are often inclined to “put their head in the sand” about problems they or loved ones are experiencing, because of the embarrassment. But that will only make the situation worse.
We’re In This Together
Including your teen in family decisions or more “adult like” conversations can be helpful in their transition into adulthood. Be careful not to allow major financial or marital conversations to be overheard by your teen. Teens will withhold negative situations from parents if they think it will add to the stress load of their parent. Therefore, a teen may hold back or look for an alternative method of dealing with their situation.
Prune Away the Excess
Instead of simply filling our lives and schedules with activities just for the sake of keeping busy, evaluate how time is spent. If necessary, prune (cut off) those items that do not serve a purpose or do not positively impact your teen’s/your family’s values or goals. Remembering that all of our lives have value, teach your teens how to live a life with purpose by becoming more intentional about how time is spent/invested.
Find Mentors At Any Age
Encourage teens to make choices about their activities that help connect them with caring adults and promote a positive environment. A 20-year-old person can have a mentor just the same as a 13-year-old. You either add or subtract from a person’s life, so which will it be?
As an example, people 20-years-old volunteer at the Bridge, as do 40-year-olds and 80-year-olds. We can learn from being around people of different ages.
Mine For Gold
Every child has a “golden nugget” inside of them, and it is the adults’ (teachers, counselors, coaches, youth pastors, mentors, family members) responsibility to “mine” for it. We cannot expect our teens to navigate and discover this life by themselves. Make the time to identify your teen’s “golden nugget” by asking questions, exposing them to new experiences, and being part of their life journey.
Resources in the Area
- offers “Pathway to Sobriety,” a six-to-nine month program rooted in Alcoholics Anonymous that emphasizes “hard work, counseling, fellowship, and spirituality,” according to their website. Program directors can be contacted via an email link on the Center’s website.
- The Center also holds an Al-Anon meeting 9 a.m. on Saturdays for .
- The Palos Primary Care Center in Orland Park has behavioral outpatient services, and resources for families.
- The Addicts Family Life Line is set up to assist families as a loved one works through addiction.
If you know of any other treatment or counseling services in the area, such as anonymous groups at area churches, please list them in the comments.