Discovering that your child has been ensnared by drugs and alcohol is a heart-wrenching and overwhelming experience for any parent. Addiction is a disease that is devastating and relentless. It affects not just the individual, but their friends and family as well. What makes the situation worse is when they reject treatment or don’t seem to want help. In this blog, we’ll dive into the struggle of addiction and explore ways to get your kid back on track.
Understanding the Struggle
Addiction is a pernicious disease that does not discriminate. It doesn’t care about age, race, socioeconomic status, or anything else. Once it takes hold, the effects can be ruinous. Young adults and children struggling with substance abuse often feel intense guilt, shame, worthlessness, and hopelessness. These negative emotions make them ashamed and resistant to asking for help. They don’t want to admit to anyone what’s happened. They may also not even realize just how out of control they are. Parents need to have a firm understanding of this dynamic when approaching their kids about addiction. It is vital to come from a place of empathy, understanding, and patience.
Recognizing the Signs
If you have watched your child battle addiction, these may be signs you recognize:
Changes in behavior: Increased irritability, isolation, and/or secrecy. Dramatic and sudden changes in mood, emotion, and personality are common signs of substance abuse.
Decline in physical health: Noticed a change in your kid’s appearance? Weight changes, lack of personal hygiene, lethargy, apathy, and overall decline in health may indicate a drug or alcohol problem.
Social withdrawal: Withdrawing from friends, family, and social communities. When caught up in the throes of addiction, it is not uncommon for people to distance themselves from their old peer groups and family, instead choosing to spend their time alone or with others who use drugs and alcohol.
Financial problems: Constantly asking for money or falling behind on bills and financial responsibilities is a clear sign of a problem.
Academic or occupational decline: When you’re battling addiction, everything else takes a backset. This includes school, work, and hobbies.
Creating an environment where your child feels safe, supportive and where communication is open, honest, and caring can go a long way in encouraging treatment. Here are ways to start a dialogue:
Right Time & Place: Choosing a quiet setting where you and your child both feel comfortable and can talk without interruptions is important. This isn’t a topic that should be broached lightly or without care and thought.
Reserve Judgement: Talk to your kid from a place of empathy, love, and concern. Avoid blame, criticism, shame, or punishment. Most people in active addiction carry around enough shame and guilt already. Addiction thrives on negative emotions. Love and acceptance will go a lot further.
Active Listening: This is about helping your child, not voicing your disappointment. Avoid interrupting and let your son or daughter speak. Remember this is a conversation, not an argument.
Education: Take the time to get a firm understanding of the complexities of addiction before entering into this dialogue. Your child may shut down if they feel like you are approaching the topic from a place of ignorance. Being informed can help to steer the conversation in the right direction.
Research Treatment Options: There are thousands of addiction treatment programs in this country. Finding the right facility for your loved one is what matters. Seek referrals from trusted friends, family and medical professionals. Research programs that are suited to treating the specific needs of your child - especially if they have any underlying medical conditions or co-occurring disorders.
Offer Support: Offering support is different from enabling. Let your kid know that you will be there to support them through the recovery process but not if they continue to use. Emotional support is essential to treatment and recovery. It is important to draw boundaries while encouraging help.
Set Boundaries: Make it clear that you are willing to help if they are working towards a solution but that you will not contribute to the problem. Tough love is tough but it may end up saving their life.
Intervention: In some cases it may be necessary to work with an objective addiction recovery professional. They can help to mediate conversations, set boundaries and encourage treatment.
Expect Setbacks: Sobriety and recovery are rarely a linear journey. More often than not, relapses occur. Treat them as a learning experience instead of a failure. Don’t give up before the miracle happens.
If your child is struggling with substance abuse, call Owl’s Nest Recovery today. With over 20 years of experience in treating addiction, our program may be just what your child needs.