By: Lindsey Ungs, Certified Prevention Specialist

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Your actions, both positive and negative, do have an impact on your family tree. So I ask you, what kind of rituals and rites has your family created when it comes to using alcohol or other drugs?

When I take something as simple as a vitamin in front of my four year old, he has a barrage of questions for me:   He asks if I’m sick, should he should take the same pill, or if it makes me feel “better”. As a prevention specialist, I realize it’s important to have these conversations with him right now. I don’t always have all the answers, though I do try and make time to help him understand that what we put in our bodies matters greatly.

Each family creates their own culture when it comes to using alcohol and/or other drugs. My husband and I consume alcohol occasionally. This means that my young children have seen me drink an adult beverage and my four year old knows what the words beer and wine mean.  I try to answer all his questions as they come, but I also know that more is caught than taught.  What we do will always trump what we say.

Whether we like it or not, we are creating a family culture that will have lasting effects on future generations. My husband and I have to decide how much, how often, and for what occasions we want to use alcohol. If our children see a beverage poured every time something good happens, then they will likely use alcohol for their celebrations in life. If we use alcohol every time something bad happens, then so too will our children use alcohol to cope with the difficulties of life. Suffice it to say we are being intentional about how much and how often to use alcohol in our home.

During this National Substance Abuse Prevention month, I encourage you to think about the culture you are creating in your family. Whether you are young or old, you have a role in deciding what rituals and social customs your kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews will partake in. If your family lineage struggles with substance abuse of any kind, you have the power to change your family tree. What you struggle with will likely be what they struggle with. What you overcome and the culture you set will be evident in future generations of your family.