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Ask Kari: On Alcohol and Drug Use

By October 15, 2021Connections
Ask Kari Issaquah Highlands

Dear Kari,

My sister has been heavily drinking throughout the whole pandemic, and I am worried for her. She is married, has a full-time job, and has two small children doing school online, which I know has been stressful to manage. How can I help her gain control of her life and get it back on track?

–  Worried Sister

Dear Worried Sister,

Your sister is not the only person who turned to alcohol during the pandemic. Unfortunately, it has become a coping mechanism for many of us.

To support your sister, I would set up a time to talk with her privately, away from her family. Share your genuine love for her and your concern she is not taking good care of herself by using alcohol for stress release. Ask her how she feels about her drinking, then offer her support by watching her children, giving her a break in her day. Recommend she speaks with a physician or counselor for therapeutic support. Just by sharing you are concerned for her welfare and you love her should help the conversation flow in the right direction and help her be open to your concerns. Good luck!

– Kari

Dear Kari,

My teenage son has been using marijuana in our house, and I am against him doing so. In general, I am against him smoking marijuana; I do not feel it is healthy to use. He tells me he is 18 years old and can smoke the substance if he wants to. I know I cannot stop him, but I refuse to have drugs in my home. What do you suggest I do?

– Momma Drawing the Line

Dear Momma Drawing the Line,

You have every right to make the rules in your own home, including whether smoking is allowed. Set up a time to talk with your son, then calmly share with him you do not allow smoking of any products, including marijuana, inside your home or outside in your yard. Be very clear you have zero tolerance for such action. While you cannot control his choices and actions outside your home, you can encourage him to talk with his primary care doctor about the long-term consequences of smoking marijuana, including a higher risk for depression and anxiety.

Stick to the rules of your home and suggesting he seek further information from a medical professional instead of banning smoking in your home and beginning a power war over a legal substance. Start with the basics and accelerate the conversation if needed.

Best of luck to you, and remember to keep calm in your presentation to help the message be better received.

– Kari

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and the owner of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group.

This column is for entertainment purposes only. If you are in crisis and in need of support, please contact the Crisis Clinic at 866-427-4747.