Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest Blogger Scott Morgan: Five Tips for Successful Co-Parenting

Today's guest author is Scott Morgan, a a board certified Austin divorce attorney who regularly blogs on the subject of divorce and family law. You can read his blog at AustinDivorceSpecialist.com.


Divorce is an emotional roller coaster for most couples, but the ride usually ends when a judge grants the divorce and the couple go their separate ways. However, for the divorcing couple with minor children, the ride continues well beyond the judge's termination of the marriage. They may no longer be married, but they are still mom and dad, so the parting has to wait until the children are grown.

Co-parenting with an ex-spouse can be difficult, but there are a few simple rules and techniques to help make it easier for you, and, more importantly, less stressful for your children.

Communication

Co-parenting involves being part of the decision-making process. Communication is an essential part of that process. Keeping the lines of communication open may have to begin with you making the effort to change how conversations occur. That usually means being the one to set the tone.

If the divorce was particularly acrimonious, the burden may fall upon you to be the peacekeeper by approaching all conversations about the children with your former spouse as if you were engaging in a conversation with a business associate. Keep the conversation on point and free of emotion. State the facts as impartially as possible, make your point, and move on.

Communicating with your former spouse about the children does not mean you must agree. Couples in the happiest marriages do not always agree, so why should a divorced couple be different?

Support Each Other

Children of divorced parents quickly learn how get what they want by pitting their parents against each other. Regardless of how parents feel toward each other, it is important that they not fall into the trap of undermining each other's authority.

If your former spouse set a rule for the children to follow, be consistent by enforcing it when the children are with you. If you have a problem with the rule, talk to your ex-spouse about it. For the sake of the children, the parent who set the rule should be the one to change it.

Keep Each Other Involved

If you take your children to an amusement park, share the pictures you take of them on the rides with your former spouse. It's a small gesture, but it sets an example for the children, and may break down any lingering bitterness harbored by your former spouse.

A word of caution, you might want to omit the photos of the new love of your life. Ex-spouses do not appreciate getting pictures of the new significant other.

Coping With a New Love Interest

Keep telling yourself that this is about the children. People move on with their lives, and at some point, your former spouse will move on as well. Nothing says you have to become best friends with your ex-spouse's new love interest, but do not make that person the enemy either, particularly around the children.

Keeping in Touch With Your Children's Feelings

Don't take for granted the impact a divorce has on children. Young children think they are the ones who did something wrong; otherwise mommy and daddy would still be together.

Talk to your children about how they feel about the divorce. If possible, both parents should be present. Consult with a professional counselor for advice.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Addiction and Prescription Medicine

If you go to the Centers for Disease Control website, you can find reports about the increasing numbers of people addicted to and overdosing from prescription medicine. Here’s a paragraph from an article on their site:

“In 2007, approximately 27,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, one death every 19 minutes. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. The increase in unintentional drug overdose death rates in recent years (Figure 1) has been driven by increased use of a class of prescription drugs called opioid analgesics (1). Since 2003, more overdose deaths have involved opioid analgesics than heroin and cocaine combined (Figure 2) (1). In addition, for every unintentional overdose death related to an opioid analgesic, nine persons are admitted for substance abuse treatment (2), 35 visit emergency departments (3), 161 report drug abuse or dependence, and 461 report nonmedical uses of opioid analgesics (4). Implementing strategies that target those persons at greatest risk will require strong coordination and collaboration at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels, as well as engagement of parents, youth influencers, health-care professionals, and policy-makers.”

In another article on the CDC site they wrote:

"Overdose deaths from prescription painkillers have skyrocketed in the past decade. Every year, nearly 15,000 people die from overdoses involving these drugs—more than those who die from heroin and cocaine combined.

Overdoses involving prescription painkillers—a class of drugs that includes hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone—are a public health epidemic. These drugs are widely misused and abused. One in 20 people in the United States, ages 12 and older, used prescription painkillers nonmedically (without a prescription or just for the "high" they cause) in 2010."

We’ve all heard about famous people going to rehab for drug and alcohol problems, but clearly these problems are growing in our population at large.

What’s happening?

I had a serious operation a decade ago and was prescribed pain medications to take at home. I took a couple then moved to over-the-counter help and off of all meds as soon as I could without being too uncomfortable. I knew I could live with a little pain and that it would be finite. I had several pills left from that prescription. When I returned for another operation, although I still had pills from the first procedure, I was given another prescription. As I had several procedures within a year, I had a lot of leftover medicine. I was glad to find a place that would take them back for proper disposal.

Following the surgery, there were times when I had aches, pains or even sadness and it might have been tempting to take the leftover medicine just to stop being in pain.

I can see how it might happen that a person receives medicine for one issue, winds up taking it for another and never really copes with the second issue that might not be serious.

It’s way too easy to get too much medicine, for doctors to prescribe, pharmacists to fill and patients to take more than we need, and we need a simple way to return unused medicine so it’s not a temptation to people in the home. A problem with any drug or alcohol is that you don’t know if you have addictive tendencies until you are already trapped.