Connect & Protect: Talking to Your Child About Drugs and Alcohol

teens and substance abuse, talking to teens about drugs and alcohol, parent resourcesWe understand that it’s scary to think about the extremely widespread use of drugs and alcohol among today’s adolescents. As experts in the substance abuse treatment field, we can tell you not to be lulled into thinking it can’t happen to your child. The fact is a wide variety of drugs and alcohol is available to your child if he or she wants them.

Conversations are one of the most powerful tools parents can use to combat a child’s drug and alcohol use. The truth is adolescents do listen to their parents when it comes to drinking and smoking, particularly if the messages are conveyed consistently and with authority. In fact, research suggests the majority of teens – around 80% – feel parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol.*

Keys to Driving Meaningful Conversations with Your Kids
Click to View Gateway's Roadmap to Understanding Substance Abuse: A Guide for Parents and Families

Click to View Gateway’s Roadmap to Understanding Substance Abuse: A Guide for Parents and Families

Figuring out how to approach the issue with your kids can be tough. Realize this issue cannot be adequately addressed in a “one-and-done” talk, instead it’s an on-going conversation you will revisit and reinforce many times over the years. Consider these helpful tips:

  • When you talk with your child about drinking and drug use, listen and respect what he or she has to say. If your child feels judged they are less likely to turn to you with concerns.
  • Make your expectations of no drinking or drug use clear to your child, and let them know you will enforce those expectations.
  • Teach your child about the dangers of drinking and drug use. Discuss laws, potential repercussions and health-related outcomes.

For more information on teens and substance abuse, click to view our Roadmap to Understanding Substance Abuse: A Guide for Parents and Families.

      *National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Parenting to Prevent Childhood Alcohol Use. July 2013

Holiday Reminder: Alcohol Weakens Willpower, Lowers Metabolism

alcohol nutrition, holiday drinking, gateway alcohol and drug treatment centersIn honor of National Nutrition Month in November, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment points out to dieters and weight-conscious warriors that alcohol consumption not only significantly increases caloric intake and diminishes will power, it also grinds your metabolism to a screeching halt.

Most people don’t realize drinking alcohol temporarily prevents the body from burning fat. Since the human body is unable to store calories consumed from alcohol the way it does calories taken in from food, drinking causes the metabolic system to stop whatever it’s doing in order to eliminate alcohol-laden libations from the body.

“Imagine there’s a pause button that’s linked to your metabolism, which is pushed whenever alcohol is consumed. Calories consumed earlier in the day are set aside or stored. Since alcohol requires undivided attention, it slows metabolism and limits the body’s ability to burn fat,” explains Dr. John Larson, Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Practically twice as calorie-laden as carbohydrates or proteins, alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram. While it may be tempting to conveniently ignore calories consumed from alcohol in daily goal trackers, being honest may help encourage more conscientious choices in the future.

Have you ever realized when you drink alcohol you are hungrier, and perhaps your insatiable appetite even stretches into the following day? Studies have shown in the short term, alcohol stimulates food intake and can increase feelings of hunger. Consider these statistics:

  • When alcohol is consumed before a meal a person generally consumes 20% more calories from food during the meal. Plus, when you add in the calories consumed from alcohol during a meal, average caloric increase jumps to 33%.
  • A study of more than 3,000 people showed consuming elevated amounts of alcohol is associated with abdominal obesity in men—aka the dreaded “beer belly.”

Clearly, having your judgment impaired with a stimulated appetite is a recipe for failure if you are trying to maintain weight or follow a weight-loss plan. Here are some tips to limit your calorie intake when consuming alcohol:

  • Drink as much water as possible.  Try to have two drinks of water for every one drink of alcohol.
  • Limit alcohol calories by choosing drinks containing less alcohol and a limited amount of sweetened beverages; try flavored seltzers or coconut water to save calories.
  • Select light versions whenever possible. “Light” means fewer calories, not calorie- or alcohol-free, so you will still need to limit your intake.
  • Always have food in your stomach before you have a drink so you don’t overindulge on salty snacks and other diet pitfalls.
  • Learn to sip your drink to make it last longer.
  • Use lots of ice because it makes your drink seem bigger without adding actual calories.
  • If you have to choose between fruit juice and soda in a mixer, choose fruit juice.
  • Avoid the salty snacks. They’ll make you want to drink more.

Keep in mind, to avoid health risks and weight gain, you should follow USDA moderate drinking guidelines—one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.  If someone you care about has a drinking problem, Gateway can help. Call  877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit to learn about our free, confidential consultation.

Choosing A Substance Abuse Treatment Center


seeking substance abuse treatment, questions to askTo assist someone in finding the best possible treatment for substance abuse, it’s recommended that you ask the following types of questions to learn more about a provider’s level of expertise and services. Below are several helpful questions to consider asking during your search, many which are recommended by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Different treatment centers call themselves by different names. In order to sort through the industry terminology and acronyms, you should know that there are generally only three categories of programs a center will fall into: residential or inpatient treatment, day/night treatment or partial hospitalization and outpatient treatment.

Gateway Treatment Centers offer a full continuum of care to treat alcohol and substance abuse as well as co-occurring disorders. With nine convenient treatment centers – located in Chicago, throughout the state of Illinois and near St. Louis–Gateway meets individual needs through our residential, outpatient and day/night programs.


No single treatment is right for everyone. The best treatment addresses a person’s various needs, not just his or her drug abuse.

We offer a comprehensive approach to treating substance abuse, which includes responding to the unique biological, psychological, social and familial issues of men and women. On average, Gateway’s programs have a 10% higher successful treatment completion rate when compared to other Treatment Providers.*


Addressing underlying mental health concerns is an important part of substance abuse treatment. Programs that offer integrated treatment plans are recommended so an individual’s substance abuse and mental health (co-occurring) problems are addressed concurrently.

Gateway is a recognized leader among behavioral health care providers in offering substance abuse treatment, as well as treatment for individuals that are diagnosed with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse problems. With more than 40 years of treatment experience, our professional staff provides you with the individualized care needed to treat co-occurring disorders to ensure lasting recovery.


Addiction treatment centers must be licensed by the state government agency that oversees them and should be accredited by The Joint Commission.

All Gateway Treatment Centers are licensed by the state of Illinois and accredited by The Joint Commission, just as the hospitals in your community are accredited. Specially trained health care professionals who are experts in the field personally visited our centers to conduct a review that monitors how well the staff performs services and protects clients.


A treatment center should be able to tell you the most current level of client satisfaction.

  •  At Gateway Treatment Centers, we are proud of our track record of success. In fact, satisfaction ratings from Gateway alumni and their families are more than 90%.*
  • And 9 out of 10 clients would refer Gateway for drug abuse treatment to a family member or friend.*

You should understand up front what is covered under your healthcare benefits so there are no surprises. Since this may be tedious and time consuming, it’s a good idea to have someone familiar with the process help you.

At Gateway Treatment Centers, your insurance co-pay and deductibles go further. We are a preferred, or in-network provider, for most benefit plans. We accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Behavioral Health and Aetna to name just a few.Our knowledgeable and dedicated staff is here to help you understand what services are covered by insurance to pay the cost of alcohol and drug treatment for you or your loved one.


Remaining in treatment for the right period of time is critical. The type of treatment and duration should be based on factors such as personal background, types of abused drugs and a person’s support system. One-size-fits-all treatment programs are not recommended.

At Gateway we know the duration of treatment varies based on the extent of a person’s substance abuse history and dedication to recovery. Our treatment plans are tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual and our goal is to provide each person with education, counseling and therapy needed to live a life free of drugs or alcohol.

In Gateway’s Intensive Outpatient treatment program, individuals participate in group and family counseling sessions several times per week. One-on-one counseling sessions also occur with their primary counselor. Treatment is usually four sessions per week that are three hours each, based on an individual’s needs. Most individuals remain in an Intensive Outpatient Program for four to six weeks before transitioning into less intense weekly Aftercare sessions. Although outpatient treatment may work for many people, should residential or inpatient treatment be necessary, two to four weeks is typical.


Effective drug abuse treatments can include behavioral therapy, medications or ideally a combination of treatments.

Gateway focuses on providing the most effective therapies and clinical approaches throughout an individual’s treatment, including the use of evidence-based practices. Evidence-based practices are drug and alcohol treatments that integrate professional research and clinical expertise to achieve the best outcome for an individual and are proven to work.

Gateway centers also offer medication assisted treatment as part of our comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs. This effective treatment option assists individuals with modifying their behavior to make better lifestyle changes for long-term success. These medications can help reduce or eliminates cravings, decreases withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse.


You want to find a provider that offers support after treatment is completed, such as aftercare, alumni programs and recovery groups.

Gateway is committed to providing you a full range of care, and that includes providing support after you’ve completed one of our programs. At the end of treatment, you will be referred to weekly Aftercare sessions. Aftercare includes counseling sessions that help you move from active treatment to coaching, developing effective relapse-prevention plans, support through recovery group involvement and access to Gateway’s life-long recovery support in our Alumni Program.


The treatment center should offer family programs that include counseling and education.

Gateway recognizes the immediate and long-term benefits to individuals in recovery when their families are involved in treatment, and engages families in counseling and substance abuse education programs. Our Family Programs are designed to answer the questions families have and to help parents, spouses, siblings and significant others learn how to better cope with the substance abuse issues of loved ones in treatment.

Click here for more questions you should ask when seeking substance abuse treatment.

*(Based on information reported by the IL Department of Human Services Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse).

*As reported from Press Ganey an independent organization which gathers post-treatment surveys from Gateway clients and provides unbiased reports on levels of customer satisfaction.


Addiction Treatment Expert Presents at 15th Annual Interdisciplinary Nephrology Conference

dr john larson, gateway alcohol and drug treatment, medication assisted treatmentOn Friday, October 24, 2014, addiction treatment expert, Dr. Larson (Medical Director, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers) presented, “Recent Advances in Medication Assisted Treatment of Addiction” at the 15th Annual Interdisciplinary Nephrology Conference. The conference was hosted by the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois in partnership with the Illinois Council of Nephrology Nurses and Technicians (ICNNT), the Illinois Council on Renal Nutrition (ICRN) and the Illinois Council of Nephrology Social Workers (ICNSW).

Mara Lidacis, Director of Community Health Education of National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, stated “We thank Dr. Larson for presenting to the social workers. From what I heard, the presentation was very well received. I know they appreciated having him share his expertise.”

Learn More:

Gateway CEU Trainings to Enhance Heroin Overdose Prevention Awareness

heroin overdose, gateway treatment centers, naloxone, free ceu trainingGateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment will host two expert-led webinars in November regarding the importance of expanding Narcan® or Naloxone-friendly zones to help remedy the heartbreaking heroin overdose trend in Illinois. Healthcare professionals may earn 1 continuing education credit compliments of Gateway while increasing knowledge surrounding heroin abuse via online trainings offered Thursday, Nov. 13 and Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

According to The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, the most severe heroin problem in the nation as measured by emergency room visits resides in the suburbs of Chicagoland. In 2010, Chicago metropolitan hospitals recorded 24,360 admissions related to heroin—the most in the nation.

“We have an unprecedented heroin problem here in Illinois, which calls for exceptional vigilance and a concerted community-wide response. Arming first responders with Naloxone has proven to save lives in areas hit hard by heroin, like DuPage County, so we must continue awareness efforts in order to expand Naloxone-friendly zones in Illinois,” explains Carl Scroggins, Program Supervisor, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Led by Carl Scroggins, Gateway’s resident expert on overdose prevention, participants will learn valuable information about heroin abuse and overdose prevention, including physiological effects of opioid/heroin abuse and steps healthcare providers and families can take to implement overdose prevention strategies. Healthcare professionals logged on for the entire duration of the 1-hour training will earn 1 continuing education credit—courtesy of Gateway Treatment Centers.

To sign up for a webinar, please visit For resources about heroin abuse, please visit


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