Question: I've had a problem with alcohol for years, and now it's severely impacting my family and even my work. I doubt that I'll be able to stop drinking without professional assistance. Can you point me in the right direction?
Jim: You've already taken the most important step toward change by admitting that you need help. No one sets a goal of becoming addicted to a substance. Addiction is powerful and deceptive in its nature. It's a non-discriminatory, progressive disorder of the body, mind and spirit -- therefore, it isolates people spiritually, emotionally and socially. If you're ever to move beyond this stifling isolation, it will be because you intentionally choose to do so.
I encourage you to begin your recovery journey by identifying the nearest support group that deals with alcoholism or addictive behaviors. In addition to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there are many faith-based recovery meetings that can offer encouragement.
If you're unsure what level of care you need, our counselors recommend that you contact a licensed chemical dependency treatment program near you to schedule an evaluation. The outcome will help you determine the next step. While the thought of taking that step may seem intimidating, I strongly encourage you to follow through on the program's recommendations. Your life is too precious to gamble with, and trying to overcome addiction without outside help is extremely difficult.
Getting treatment is a crucial decision, but it's just the beginning. After treatment, the stresses of living sober can quickly lead to a relapse. You'll want to connect with a strong aftercare program where relapse prevention techniques and skills are taught.
Finally, I invite you to call our licensed counselors at Focus, 855-771-HELP (4357). They can provide encouragement and also help you find a qualified therapist in your area who can assist in your efforts to move forward. May God grant you the strength for the journey.
Question: Our 17-year-old son has become very disrespectful to us. He's easily angered and makes sarcastic remarks. We've tried taking away privileges, but it doesn't seem to change his attitude. What can we do to make him take notice and grow up?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: I understand that this is a frustrating situation -- but unfortunately, one that is fairly common. Often when a teenager starts being disrespectful, I assume that something else is driving that behavior.
Begin by doing a self-check to assess the behaviors you and your spouse are modeling. If your son feels that you don't respect each other (or him), or doesn't believe he's a priority to you, he may reflect that attitude back at you.
Next, it's vital to reach out in love and try to find out what has prompted the behavioral change. Is he being bullied or rejected by peers? Perhaps he didn't make a team, or is struggling with a particular school subject, and is feeling diminished as a result.
The point is that if you genuinely try to understand his world and emotions, and pursue him relationally, he probably won't resent limits. Teenagers need a stable, secure foundation to launch into adulthood; they want to know that you care enough to establish reasonable boundaries.
That involves being proactive vs. reactive. Set aside a time -- outside the heat of conflict -- and respectfully share your feelings using word pictures. Involve your son in the process of contracting around appropriate behavior, i.e., get him to decide and agree not only to the consequences if he falls short, but also the rewards when he succeeds.
As the saying goes, "Do to others what you would have them do to you." Show him you respect him enough to really care if he's hurting, and hopefully he will reciprocate.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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