FOR OUR FRONT LINE STAFF

PEOPLE NOT PROGRAMS TRANSFORM HEARTS, CREATE BELONGING, AND INCREASE A PERSON'S TRUST IN PEOPLE AND SYSTEMS WHICH ARE SUPPORTING THEM.

FROM OUR HEARTS TO YOURS: THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO IN SUPPORTING FAMILIES IMPACTED BY A PARENT'S ADDICTION AND SOCIETY'S STIGMA:

YOU ARE SAVING LIVES.

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The issue:

There are children experiencing the traumatic effects of their parent's substance use, which is compounded by the stigma of addictions.

because of stigma, There are parents who do not have access to community support to be able to heal past trauma or to choose sobriety.

 

THE CHILDREN:

  • atleast 1/6 children in Canada have a parent with an addiction
  • Parental addiction is an adverse childhood experience (ACE) and increases the risk for additional ACEs
  • stigma prevents the creation of adequate supports, and contributes to the re-traumatization of families.
  • there are currently no policies or practices for supporting children impacted by parental addiction.

What is the risk to children who have a parent with an addiction?

 

To understand the risk to children, we must consider the emotional and physical environment a child is living in and the supports available to them.

First, the literature reminds us that having a safe, nurturing, and attuned caregiver is one of the most important mental health supports a child can have. However, an addiction can limit a parent’s ability to be that emotionally safe and attuned support that a child needs.

In addition, when a parent has unhealed childhood trauma, as is often the case with an addiction, that parent may exhibit erratic, unpredictable, and chaotic behaviours that can be traumatizing to their child.

Today, we know that chronically stressful environments, as often seen in homes with parental addiction, can be incredibly toxic to a child’s body. The long-term implications of this toxic stress put children at a substantially increased risk for future physical and mental illness, including addiction itself.

Image by Tim Mossholder

THE STIGMA:

Stigma harms not only those who use drugs or alcohol, but also harms their family, including many children. As frontline staff, we may unintentionally project our biases onto families which can prevent their healing. As such, it is important we reflect on our own discomforts, assumptions and reactions when it comes to substance use and addictions.

Stigma is defined as negative attitudes and beliefs about a group of people and includes judging, labeling, isolating, which ultimately leads to discrimination.

​It is often communicated through our body language and tone and may not even be recognized by the person causing it.

Stigma  can be so deeply rooted in our society that it becomes ingrained in institutional policies and practices.

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, 8/10 Canadians with a substance use disorder say they experienced barriers to recovery and healing, including stigma. This stigma impacts not only the quality of and access to healthcare services, but also impacts the creation of policies and services that dictate treatment accessibility.

Stigma also impacts children who have a parent with an addiction in various ways including: witnessing society's behaviours towards their parents, listening to the language used when speaking of individual's who have an addiction, and through the limited number of supports offered to their families. All of these together, contribute to children internalizing their experiences and emotions, and may prevent them from reaching out for support as they get older. 

Strengthening Canada's Approach to SU & Addiction

2 hour training

Starlings Founder Agnes Chen marries her personal experience with the stigma of a parent's addiction to the current literature on stigma.

Starlings TRAINING:
Addictions:
our communities
opportunity to heal
a families inherited
stigma.

WHAT CAN I DO RIGHT NOW TO HELP #ENDTHESTIGMA ?

Just like an addiction does not happen over night, neither does healing or recovery. Together, we must be able to offer families hope and an invitation to heal, while recognizing the many different paths an individual will take.

1. WATCH THIS VIDEO:








2. BE AN ACTIVE ALLY:

Have a sign in your clinic that states you are an
ally to individuals who use substances or who have an addiction.
Feel free to print and use one of these:












2. HARM REDUCTION:

"Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug and alcohol use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs."

Some harm reduction suggestions:

1. Get and offer Naloxone: it will save a life


2. Offer information regarding "safely with drawling from alcohol": it will save a life.

3. Check in with family, particularly children, who are providing care for a loved one with an addiction: it will save a life.



3. OFFER HOPE & INVITE HEALING:

email us at info@starlings.ca and request to have a poster or hard copy of our Peer Support Guide (for youth and adults who have been impacted by a parent's substance use and society's stigma of addictions) and our "Parenting in Recovery Guide" for parents with a past or present addiction (both will be available November 2021).
Image by Damian Zaleski
LEARN:

LEARN ABOUT THE STATISTICS AND THE SCIENCE BEHIND ADDICTIONS, BUT ENSURE YOUR LEARNING INCLUDES THE VOICES OF THOSE WITH LIVED EXPERIENCE. 

1.5 hour A presentation

Starlings Founder Agnes Chen marries her personal experience with the stigma of a parent's addiction to the current literature on stigma.

Addictions:
our communities
opportunity to heal
a families inherited
stigma.