More than 321,000 U.S. children lost a parent to drug overdose from 2011 to 2021

Our amazing Prevention Specialist recently shared this gut wrenching statistic with our staff. This is why we value our tremendous staff so deeply and constantly advocate for them and those they serve. They are on the front lines of saving lives in Grant and Iowa Counties.

“An estimated 321,566 children in the United States lost a parent to drug overdose from 2011 to 2021, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. The rate of children who experienced this loss more than doubled during this period, from approximately 27 to 63 children per 100,000. The study was a collaborative effort led by researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”


Are You a Parent Whose Child Recently Experienced Psychological Trauma?

Supporting a child who may have experienced trauma requires patience, understanding, and a supportive environment. Here are some ways parents can help:

1.         Create a Safe Environment: Ensure the child feels physically and emotionally safe at home. This may involve removing triggers or reminders of the trauma and providing a calm and consistent routine.

2.         Open Communication: Encourage open and honest communication with your child. Let them know that it’s okay to talk about their feelings and experiences, but don’t pressure them to share before they’re ready.

3.         Validate Feelings: Validate your child’s feelings and let them know that whatever they’re feeling is okay. Avoid dismissing or minimizing their emotions.

4.         Provide Reassurance: Offer reassurance and comfort to your child. Let them know that you are there to support them and that they are not alone.

5.         Seek Professional Help: If you’re concerned about your child, their attempts to cope are ineffective or unhealthy, their symptoms are impacting their ability to function in multiple environments or last longer than 4-6 weeks, consider seeking help from a professional therapist or counselor who specializes in working with children who have experienced trauma. Professional support can provide additional tools and strategies for coping and healing. When in doubt reach out to a professional (Case Manager, Mental Health or Medical Provider- Family Doctor, Therapist, Psychologist, Psychiatrist) or the Crisis Hotline- 988 or 1-800-362-5717 (Grant and Iowa Counties) for support, guidance, or a consult.

6.         Maintain Stability: Try to maintain a sense of stability and routine in your child’s life. Predictability can help them feel more secure and in control.

7.         Encourage Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Teach your child healthy coping mechanisms such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or engaging in activities they enjoy.

8.         Model Healthy Coping: Be a positive role model for your child by demonstrating healthy coping strategies and managing your own stress in constructive ways.

9.         Encourage Self-Expression: Encourage your child to express themselves creatively through activities like drawing, writing, or playing music. This can help them process their emotions in a safe and non-verbal way.

10.       Sleep: Sufficient sleep is essential for children to process emotions and consolidate memories, including those related to traumatic experiences. During sleep, the brain undergoes processes that help regulate emotions and consolidate memories, which can be especially important for children dealing with trauma. Lack of sleep can exacerbate stress and emotional instability, making it more difficult for children to cope with traumatic experiences. Establishing a regular sleep schedule and ensuring children have a comfortable sleep environment can support their emotional resilience.

11.       Hydration: Hydration is critical for overall health and brain function. Dehydration can affect mood, cognitive function, and physical well-being, which can exacerbate the effects of trauma on children. Drinking enough water helps maintain proper brain function, including memory and concentration, which are important for processing and coping with traumatic experiences. Encouraging children to drink water regularly throughout the day can support their physical and emotional resilience.

12.       Nutrition: Proper nutrition is essential for children’s physical and mental development. Nutrient-rich foods provide the energy and nutrients needed for optimal brain function, mood regulation, and stress management. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can support children’s overall well-being and resilience in the face of trauma.

13.       Be Patient: Healing from trauma takes time, so be patient with your child and yourself. Celebrate small victories and progress along the way.

Remember that every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s important to be flexible and responsive to your child’s individual needs.

We’re Ready to Add to Our Team. Are You Ready to Be Part of It?

If you’re ready to be a member of a team that shows up for each other, that takes the time to listen to each others’ needs and volunteer to help balance each others’ workloads, who have healthy boundaries but also aren’t afraid to be vulnerable, who welcome authenticity while inspiring each other to be their very best, who desire being held accountable to invest in and sustain your own health which contributes to longevity and consistency of service, who desire passion and purpose in addition to a paycheck and benefits, then you’re ready for Unified Community Services.

We’re looking to hire outpatient behavioral health clinicians to become part of an already phenomenal team that does heroic and honorable work in Iowa and Grant County.

We’re looking to give opportunities to interns of high integrity who want to immerse themselves in the service of clients who many health systems refuse to serve, who want to apply your knowledge to gain experience and expertise in real world challenges, and who want to build a foundation of professional excellence you can take pride in.

Our success is your fulfillment.

Your flourishing is our clients thriving.

We’re ready to add to our team. Are you ready to be part of it?

Thank you to Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development for awarding Unified Community Services with the Gold Award for Being a Veteran Ready Employer!

Award Presentation at Unified Community Services 2.13.2024

Need Lasting Change in 2024?

Tired of the New Year’s Resolution game that doesn’t work? Want lasting change when it comes to alcohol and substance use? Reach out today! We can help!

Looking for mental health and substance use awareness training for your organization’s leadership team? We can help!

Experiencing Grief This Holiday Season?

If you’re dealing with loss this holiday season, please read the article below by Kristen Carpenter, PhD. The link to the full article is below.

“If this is your first holiday season after the death of a loved one, you might be grappling with whether you should carry on traditions while grieving. And guess what? It’s perfectly normal and important to give yourself some grace.

Let yourself feel the way you feel

Feelings are facts. Everyone copes with loss in their own way. Your emotional responses to loss are valid and are part of your unique healing process. Don’t waste energy on feeling ashamed or guilty about your feelings; invest that energy in making concrete efforts to feel better and heal.

Be open to adjusting your holiday traditions

The first holiday after the passing of a loved one is often the hardest, especially if the loss is unexpected.

When a loved one is lost, some families find comfort in the familiar and incorporate a time of remembrance into their holiday celebrations.

Others find the usual traditions too painful, especially if the loss occurred recently. If this is the case, it can be helpful to celebrate the holiday in an entirely different way and consider resuming traditions when you’re ready. You might find it helpful to change the location of a celebration and consider taking a trip or visiting a family member in a different city.

Some prefer to be alone in their grief, and that’s okay too. Simply explain your need to your family and friends, who’ll likely care and understand.

Incorporate a time of remembrance into your holidays

How you celebrate the life of someone who died is unique to you, depending on what the person meant to you and how you feel comfortable commemorating your relationship.

Here are a few ideas:

Have those gathered together share a story or memory of the person.

Light a candle.

Plant a flower or tree.

Visit the person’s grave.

Say special prayers.

Keep photos close; for instance, wear a photo of the person in a locket or keep a picture with you during a special event you wish the person could have attended, such as a religious ceremony or wedding.

Don’t hesitate to seek support from others and don’t be afraid to accept help. Here are some easy ways to make sure your family and friends can help in the most meaningful ways.

Lead the way in letting people know what you need

Be clear about whether you prefer to grieve privately, with the support of close friends or with a wide circle of people accessible through social networks.

Tip for friends: Don’t take to social media to offer support, particularly if someone who’s experienced loss isn’t communicating publicly online. This could lead to you sharing something personal that the person prefers not to share.

Ask a friend to set up a meal train

People love to bring food, but nobody needs three lasagnas on the same day. Online tools make meals easy to coordinate, so this doesn’t happen.

Don’t be afraid to ask for food you can freeze — this can be especially helpful for a parent who’s handling the death of a spouse while raising children.

Write down what you need (the “notecard method”)

The “notecard method” will save you from trying to think of something in the moment and make your life easier when asked by a supportive friend, “What do you need?” or “How can I help?”

Here’s how it works:

Sit down and make a list of what you need, including things for tangible and emotional support. Things like:

Holiday or grocery shopping

Food preparation

Wrapping gifts

Household chores, like cleaning, mowing or maintenance

Get a stack of notecards and write down one item on each card.

When people ask how they can help, hand them a note card or have them choose something they feel they can do.

There isn’t one right way to deal with grief during the holidays

Everyone copes differently and you’ll find ways that are easier or more helpful for you than others. Allow yourself to feel the emotions, listen to yourself during this time and seek help if you need it. Taking care of yourself, sharing memories and being surrounded by supportive people are a few great ways to get through this time, but you’ll have to decide which methods work best for you.