Q: I guess it's time to admit that my use of alcohol is starting to impact my family — and even my work. I doubt that I'll be able to stop drinking without professional assistance. Can you help point me in the right direction?
Jim: I commend you for already taking the most important step toward change — admitting that you need help.
Nobody sets a goal of becoming addicted to any substance. Addiction is powerful and deceptive in its nature. It's a nondiscriminatory progressive disorder of the body, mind and spirit. So, it isolates people spiritually, emotionally and socially. The only way to move beyond this isolation it to intentionally choose to do so.
I encourage you to start your recovery journey by identifying the nearest support group that deals with alcoholism or other 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, I'd recommend that you contact a licensed chemical dependency treatment program locally to schedule an evaluation. That assessment will help you determine the next step. Sure, the thought of taking that step may seem intimidating. But I strongly encourage you to follow through on their recommendations. Your life is too precious to gamble — and overcoming any 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 that teaches relapse prevention techniques and skills.
Finally, I invite you to call our licensed counselors at 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.
Q: Our teenage son would play video games 24/7 if he could. It's only gotten worse this past year with social distancing. We struggle to try and get him involved in any kind of physical activity or even just to read a book. Help!
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: You're not alone. Recent polls reveal that more than half of parents have abandoned most (or all) of their pre-pandemic rules regarding screen time. And yet 70 percent wish they did a better job of monitoring their children's tech use.
Boys are especially vulnerable to the pull of video games (illusion of power, feelings of competence, a sense of belonging and worth, etc.). They're drawn to games' excitement and risk without "real life" threats and dangers.
I'd suggest it's time to go beyond "encouraging him to do other things," and actually set some clear and consistent limits:
• Explore what draws him so intensely toward video games.
• Explain your concerns and needed changes. Your life-giving goals for him are health, growth and maturity — not his happiness.
• Discuss why a balanced life is essential to mental health. Together, develop a list of alternate activities (reading, face-to-face time with friends, exercising, being outdoors, etc.); post it on the refrigerator.
• Clarify limits for video games (use a timer) and consequences (like loss of privileges) when boundaries aren't respected.
• Finally, follow through! Don't shrink in the face of frustration, anger and complaining. If you're consistent, your child will probably develop some healthy new interests within a few short weeks.
Worst-case, you might need to get rid of the gaming devices for a time. Most parents who stay strong in this battle find that their teens will eventually discover that there's more to life than the illusions on a screen.
For more insights and tips, see the "technology management" section at FocusOnTheFamily.com/Parenting.
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.