Heather Burgess Ross

Why you lose your temper sometimes when your child is using substances

Last Friday afternoon I did something completely out of character for me.  I shouted profanities at the cable guy. He left the gate open, my dogs got out, and they were running down a busy street. That would make me mad on any given day, but my normal reaction would not involve yelling or profanities. […]

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How We’re More Like Our Kids Who Are Abusing Substances Than We Think

Buffering is using any false pleasure like drugs, food, alcohol, shopping, gambling, people, social media, or anything else outside of ourselves to avoid experiencing our feelings.  Those external substances create temporary or momentary feelings of comfort, but they don’t last. It’s a short term solution to a long term problem that often creates more consequences

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Small changes can make a big difference in your happiness when your child is abusing substances

I often write that when you find yourself caught up in your teen’s substance abuse you have to figure out how to put your own oxygen mask on first and take care of yourself.  Future focus is one way to do that.  Future focus is intentionally creating a better future, instead of unintentionally recreating your

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Why You Think Life Would Be So Much Better If Your Child Wasn’t Abusing Substances

That’s a painful thought, but a common one. I’ve had it many times myself. One of the things that has helped my relationship with my daughter was letting go of all of my expectations for how my daughter’s life should turn out. When you think your life would be so much easier if your teen

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7 steps for Difficult Conversations with your teen/young adult child

When there’s something that you need to talk to your son or daughter about and there’s a lot of negative emotion& tension involved, following these steps can change the outcome.   One person can change the whole tone of a conversation. Most of us have no idea how to communicate without blame, frustration, defensiveness, or

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How being willing to feel pain will help you when your child is struggling with substances

One of the reasons your child uses substances is to avoid pain. The reason they want to avoid pain is because that is how their brain is wired. Ironically, the substance they use to avoid pain just creates more pain. It creates more pain for them, and everyone who loves them. Then, those of us

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Creating Self Confidence And Why You Need It When Your Child Is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

When your teen is abusing substances, your self confidence could probably use a boost.  All the fears, guilt, and self-doubt that show up erode your self-confidence.  Also, when you want to help your teen and you don’t know where to start or what to do you don’t have confidence in your ability to handle the

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Lessons Learned From Regret When Your Child is Abusing Substances

Is regret useful? That depends. Are you using regret as a tool for change or are you using it as a weapon against yourself? I’ve used it both ways, and nothing positive comes out of using regret against myself. When you use regret against yourself, you are stuck in the past wishing it was different,

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The Teen/young adult brain and how it’s affected by substance use

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the part of the brain where risks are assessed, impulses are controlled, and plans are made to reach goals.  The PFC is not fully developed until 25 years old on average.  That is why teens are more likely to engage in risky or impulsive behavior. In addition to your teen’s

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Setting boundaries with your child when they are abusing drugs and alcohol

Boundaries create clear lines between you and the world.  People often have fears about how others will feel about their boundaries and worry they will cause distance, but properly set boundaries lead to closer relationships.  People with naturally strong boundaries can be compassionate because they don’t feel taken advantage of.  If you feel taken advantage

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How your child’s substance use affects their natural dopamine levels and what happens when they try to stop using substances

As you read this, keep in mind this is JUST ONE FACTOR, one chemical, that is affected when dealing with substance use. Dopamine is the brain’s way of rewarding us or nature’s way of rewarding the brain for activities like eating and sex that are necessary to the survival of our species.  Dopamine makes us

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How Unconditional Love Helps When Your Child Is Abusing Substances

The most surprising lesson I have learned from substance abuse is unconditional love.  Unconditional love is the willingness to work through all the discomfort I feel because I see my teen suffering, and I want to fix it, and I can’t fix it, but I keep showing up with love in the face of that

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You Have a Choice About How You Feel When Your Child Is Using Substances

You can choose to feel however you want. When you are facing your teen’s substance use It doesn’t feel like it, but you have a choice about how you feel.  For years I chose to feel angry because I thought substance use stole my daughter from me.  I felt robbed of our relationship and every

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The Advantage Of Making Decisions Ahead of Time When Your Child Is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Deciding ahead of time will save you from yourself.  Doors are slamming, voices are raised, tensions are high, and angry words are being exchanged.  You are in the heat of the moment with your teen.  Does this sound like a good time to make a decision?  Deciding how you are going to handle this situation

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