They say that a woman’s “sixth sense,” or intuition, is a powerful tool. In their multi-faceted roles as significant others, parents, grandparents, siblings, etc., women face the challenge of balancing their careers while managing their households.
As complex as their lives have become over the years, women continue to play a vital role as the first line of defense to help their families in their time of need, especially when faced with the consequences of a loved one’s alcohol or drug use. Maybe it is this sixth sense that makes women remarkably perceptive when things are amiss in the family.
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, Kerri-Lynne Black works closely with women and teens who struggle from the devastating effects of their personal or loved one’s substance use. She offers insight on the early warning signs to look for to determine if professional help is needed:
1. Alcohol or drugs are necessary for you or a loved one to feel relaxed and confident, especially to deal with the stresses of work, school, parenting, finances, and more.
2. Your partner or spouse always has a “good” explanation for drinking or using drugs, and this is negatively affecting your relationship.
3. Your child’s grades and attendance are suffering in school and you have observed changes in his or her behavior such as irritability, lack of motivation, and withdrawal from the family.
4. You or a loved one have operated a vehicle while under the influence, and have risked facing legal repercussions as a result of your drinking or drug use.
5. Money that is supposed to cover household expenses or family responsibilities is instead misused to purchase alcohol or drugs.
If you answered “yes” to any of these signs, Ms. Black suggests that it’s time to seek immediate help by speaking to counselor. Early involvement is the key to successful long-term results. “Oftentimes, women in households can serve as the voice of reason for their families and can help put back together the broken pieces,” according to Black. Even if their loved ones or children refuse to get help, she recommends that women should still seek counseling for themselves to help find healthier ways to cope.
To address the diverse needs of the entire family, Outreach, a non-profit organization that first opened its doors over 35 years ago, offers a vast array of counseling services that target the individual needs of each family member.
For women and women with children, Outreach offers gender-specific individual and group counseling sessions in a safe, supportive environment with on-site babysitting services included. In addition to offering 24/7 residential care for teens, Outreach offers counseling services during after-school hours and recreational activities that encourage positive socialization.
For those who may not have a personal history of using alcohol or drugs, the program offers help for significant others who have been affected by a loved one’s substance use.
If alcohol or drugs are affecting your family, call Outreach at 718.849.6300 (Queens) or 718.383.7200 (Brooklyn). All phone calls are confidential. For more information, you can visit www.opiny.org.