Unfortunately, in this day and age, even very young children and certainly teens are getting hooked on lots of things that are … well … less than healthy. Addiction can be overt or covert. In other words, you might be able to see a kid using a substance or spend an abundance of time on an activity like playing video games, and the child does this to distraction.
There are many signs of addiction in a child or teen. Many are listed on our parent's resource page here, although not an exhaustive list. This list may help identify a child who may need help from a competent medical professional, or you can view our course "Addiction-Do I Have A Problem?"
What we want to share is what you can do as a parent to help an addicted child in a holistic way.
As always, changing a child’s or teen’s diet can be very challenging! It’s that way for us adults, as well. But consuming a healthy diet and taking a few well-placed supplements makes it a great deal easier for your child or teen to make healthier choices about what they do and who they socialize with! Avoiding foods that inflame us – fast foods, junk foods, foods with lots of chemicals and genetic modifying, grains and sugars – helps one think, feel, and behave more rationally. Amino acid therapy is being used quite successfully in lieu of prescription medications, and the results are nothing short of amazing. There are nearly no side effects, and amino acids are actually healing brain chemistry rather than manipulating neurotransmitters, as medications tend to do. Hence, today we see many private and even other conventional, publicly funded treatment entities using holistic methods or combining treatment approaches.
Most treating entities offer talk therapy – individually and within groups – as well as participation at 12-step meetings. More holistic approaches may also include groups on body image, family therapy, nutrition, emotional freedom technique (EFT, or, tapping), yoga, meditation, equine-assisted therapy (working with horses), fitness, music therapy, adventure therapy like rock climbing, horticulture (planting gardens), martial arts, culinary arts, art therapy, and more.
You – the parent or caretaker – can participate in your child’s or your teen’s recovery by starting slowly with dietary changes and participating in some of these activities with your child/teen. Also, find out whether your child or teen has food sensitivities, which foods your kids may be sensitive to – there are numerous, lower-cost ways to test for these. Also, take foods containing refined wheat (and other grains) way down or out of your diet, and try to reduce/eliminate all sugar. There are very palatable and healthy sugar substitutes (not aspartame, etc.) There are many recipes free of charge that help you make nearly every dish you and your child love using healthier ingredients, including pizza! Yes, there’s even a healthy version of pepperoni. Almond flour makes a fine substitute for wheat, by the way. Try to stop eating foods which are more than “minimally processed” – highly processed foods like vegetable oil do not create healthy kids. Watch out for chemical food additives and genetically modified ingredients.
As far as supplementation goes, some helpful choices may be fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins, vitamin D, probiotics, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Although there are very few, if your child is on medication, you will want to check for possible contra-indications. For optimal results, please work with a competent health care provider!
View our courses to find more information on specific aspects of addiction in children, teens and other family members. Or perhaps yourself. You can also view our parent's resource page for more helpful information.
As always – have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.