(This article was put together by the Project SUCCESS Regional Coordinator, Michaela Buckhannon in coordination with St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea.)
During difficult times it can be challenging to manage stress.
Coping is the way in which you face the responsibilities or problems in life. Some days coping is done successfully – frustrations or sad feelings are met in a calm, healthy manner. While other days it can be tempting for individuals to reach for quick relief during hardship by using alcohol and drugs. Drowning out the discomfort may seem easier, but healthy coping is essential for both youth and adults.
Want to know how to cope together as a family?
Some ideas for coping together in healthy ways can be as simple as finding hobbies to do together such as learning to make a new recipe, getting out old videos and photos, or video calling a family member or friend.
While there are many resources and guides on coping (see the “learn more” section below), there is always room to improve our coping together as a community. Studies show that coping together with conversations and quality time are characteristics that actually protect families and individuals from troubling behaviors such as alcohol and drug use.
Here’s what the research shows about adult alcohol and drug use:
- Alcohol, tobacco and marijuana are the three most commonly abused drugs in the United States (SAMHSA~ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- Roughly 1 in 11 adults have a form of a mental illness and 1in 25have a substance use disorder (NSDUH~ National Survey Drug Use and Health)
- The rate of alcohol and marijuana sales over the last several months in the state of Michigan has been “increasing substantially” (Mlive)
- What you say, don’t say, and how you act as a parent or adult in a child or teen’s life carries significant influence in their decision about whether to experiment early with alcohol and drugs (SAMHSA)
Here’s what studies show about alcohol and drug use by teens:
- Most teenagers do not use drugs regularly (MiPHY – Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth)
- Most teens are faced with a decision to use alcohol and other drugs by age 13 (MTF – Monitoring the Future study)
- It is never too late or too early to talk with the children or teens in your life about your expectations when it comes to alcohol and other drug use (CDC – Centers for Disease Control)
Some quick conversation tips for talking to the children and teens in your life include:
- Make a plan for what you want to say to them
- Limit the distractions (such as phones or TV)
- Use open ended questions so they cannot just respond with a “yes” or “no”
- Talk about your family’s values
- Practice “active listening,” in which you repeat what they say to show you heard them and understand
The problem with quick alternatives to dealing with our emotions is that they are often not as beneficial to ourselves and others in the long run. Modeling healthy ways of dealing with stress is a great start, but having conversations and engaging in activities that help us cope together is essential.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, help is available in our community.
Available resources are listed online at www.stjoeschelsea.org/behavioralhealthservices.
Learn more at www.srslycoalitions.org/conversationsandcoping.
Learn more about Project SUCCESS at https://bit.ly/2B2kaGe