Written By: Nicole Sartore-Babuin, BSW, CDP, Family Programs
Many of us can probably relate to watching the fame of baseball, either live or on television. These days as a busy mom, I find myself racing to the ball fields after work to watch my kids play the all American game. As they come up to bat, I get butterflies in my stomach. Will they hit the ball? Will the ball hit them? What if they strike out? As the parents in the stands cheer, I find myself growing more and more anxious. What if they strike out?
This is a question I would like to focus on. What if they DO strike out?
I look at parenting similar to the game of baseball. Sometimes we get a hit. We run the bases and sometimes we have fans cheering for us. Some days we don’t come near to making contact with the ball. We can feel that there are hundred pound weights around our ankles, and the bleachers are empty. Ultimately all any of us can do, is our best.
I am a parent, and I am also a practicing counselor working with families who have been impacted by substance use disorder. I have been working with kids and families for the past twenty two years to help break the cycle and stigma of substance use disorder. Addiction affects all family members, and I often tell families who have a member struggling with addiction, that when they get involved in their own healing process it greatly increases the chance of successful recovery for their loved one. With education and information they can become the “cheering section” that supports and encourages their loved one’s recovery, and within those families, it is the youngest, most vulnerable members who can benefit most from this type of intervention.
As co-founder and facilitator of Bounce Back, Edgewood Treatment Center’s educational program for children who have grown up with substance use disorder or the illness is in extended family members early intervention is critical for children 7 to 13 years of age.
Children often don’t have ways to talk and express conflicting feelings, may internalize their feelings resulting in guilt, anxiety, confusion, anger and depression. By offering a safe and supportive environment where children can learn ways to express uncomfortable feelings, learn a definition of substance use disorder, understand they can’t ‘catch’ it, (like a cold or flu) and most of all that they are not alone we are beginning to break the cycle of addiction.
In Bounce Back our definition of addiction is ‘Hooked, Stuck and Trapped’. The goal of the program is to help children develop the skills and resources they will need to meet the emotional challenges they face, and for them to know that there is a safe place they can come or talk, and that it is not their fault.
As parents, it is our job and responsibility to provide children tools they’ll need to deal with life’s challenges and stressors. When children are living in homes where substance use is an issue, parents can be the stressors. If these children never receive support and the opportunity to learn about the nature of substance use disorder and learn coping strategies, the repercussions can be severs: problems in school, the law, elevated rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Disorder (DOD), truancy, runaways, as well as increased chance of developing a substance use disorder in their adulthood.
As a parent, if you knew you could greatly decrease the odds of your child having to attend an inpatient treatment for addiction, wouldn’t you seek it out? Wouldn’t you want him or her to know where to go for help and support if they ever developed a substance use disorder?
Often parents need support too. Early intervention programs like Bounce Back provide the support to help you learn how to help your kids so that as parents- you can be the one cheering them on or better yet, hitting a home run. Through our extensive family addiction programs at Edgewood Health Network we can help families and children recover. Over the next few months I will be writing about the Bounce Back and Family Programs we offer and how they are helping make a difference.
Nicole Sartore-Babuin completed her Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Victoria and worked as both inpatient and family counselor at the Edgewood Treatment Center in Nanaimo, BC Canada. In 2004 Nicole relocated to the Seattle, where she pioneered Edgewood’s children’s program Bounce Back. She specializes in working with family members who have been affected by the devastation of addiction and truly believes that everyone deserves a chance to recover.