As the guardians or parents of drug addicts or alcoholics, there is nothing more harrowing than watching your son or daughter slowly kill themselves with harmful substances. It may mean sleepless nights waiting to receive that phone call with the voice on the other end telling you that your child has been arrested, was involved in a car accident, or died of a drug overdose. Even if you never receive that phone call, it’s excruciating to watch your child go through life enslaved to drugs and alcohol addiction.
There are many factors that go into achieving sobriety and staying sober. As hard as it might be to accept, many things may be out of your hands when it comes to your child’s addiction. However, you aren’t completely powerless in your son or daughter’s struggle with addiction. As a parent, you can be a positive force in the lives of your children as they go through life’s challenges and it’s no different in the battle with addiction.
There are a few key things you can do, as a parent, to help your kids get the help they need. Here is some advice that can be helpful for the challenges ahead.
Good Parents Aren’t Perfect Parents
Parents carry a constant burden for their kids; the worries and concerns of parents are ubiquitous. Parents sometimes have a tendency to look at every bump, bruise, and scar that their children have as a ledger keeping records of their mistakes. Plus, the parents of drug addicted have a unique brand of worry and guilt.
However, it’s important to realize that there is no such thing as the perfect person, let alone the perfect parent. It’s easy to blame yourself for your child’s addiction, and he or she may even blame you themselves. The truth is that adult children make their own decisions regardless of the mistakes you may have made in their upbringing.
Two kids growing up next door to each other with the same family life may have different experiences with drugs and alcohol. One may never drink a drop while the other becomes addicted. Family life is a contributing factor to addiction but, as with any disease, there are a number of different risk factors and causes.
Families of Addicts Enabling Addiction
For parents of drug addicts, there may come a time when you have to make a crucial decision between helping your son or daughter while enabling his or her addiction or taking the harder route of tough love.
Enabling is a word that a parent may hear often when getting involved in their child’s treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction. In the addiction treatment field, enabling is defined as a dysfunctional behavior or pattern of behavior, intended to help the addict or alcoholic, while actually helping perpetuate their addiction.
Parents are in a unique position over their children and because of that, there are more opportunities for parents to be enablers when compared to other friends and family. Parents are typically financially independent, they are figures of authority, and they have unique relationship where it is natural to care unconditionally. Here are some examples of enabling to look out for:
- Lying to others about your son or daughter’s drug-related behavior to save him or her from consequences
- Providing them with resources that encourage them to keep using
- Routinely rescuing them out of situations they create, directly or indirectly, through their substance abuse
- Ignoring negative behavior to avoid hurting their feelings
- Neglecting your own needs by prioritizing the needs of the person in addiction
One of the most difficult parts of being the parent of an addict is distinguishing between when you’re actually providing help and when you’re just enabling. This can come into question when your child is still in the throes of their addiction and when they’re newly sober. People who have relapsed have often cited that getting back all the material things they lost while drinking or drugging too quickly actually contributed to their relapse.
Parents of Drug Addicts Staging Interventions
An individual that is struggling with addiction may not be able to see the damage that they are doing in their own lives and the effect their addiction is having on the people around them. There may be something inside them telling them there is a problem but they maybe be in denial, not wanting to admit they’re addicted. They may even know there is something wrong but they are too embarrassed or scared to ask for help.
Sometimes it’s a parent, friend, or family member taking the time to lovingly give someone with an addiction a wake-up call. If done correctly, an intervention can be an effective way to convince someone that they need rehabilitation and recovery.
However, an intervention may not look like what is commonly seen on TV. If a family or group of friends tries to employ the techniques they learned from an episode of their favorite sitcom, they run the risk of pushing someone away, causing them to dig their heels in further.
Instead, they should approach interventions firmly but with compassion, honesty, and genuine concern. Interventions should not devolve into a list of grievances against the person who is struggling.
Forming strategies with the help of a knowledgeable interventionist the best way for families to break down the barriers between them and the person in need.
Helping Addicts Find Treatment
An appropriate way of supporting your drug or alcohol-addicted son or daughter is by helping him or her find professional help. It is important to keep in mind that only seeing an addiction therapist or having them attend an IOP (intensive outpatient treatment) may not be enough depending on the severity of your child’s addiction. It is better to invest in a full continuum of care, rather than take half-measures and then do damage control after the eventual relapse.
Many former addicts say that the most difficult days of recovery are the few weeks and months after detox. Cravings can come in intense waves at that point and the urge to relapse can be hard to cope with. If a recovering addict goes back to their old life and old habits too quickly, it can lead them right back to the opportunities that lead them to drugs or alcohol.
Conversely, those with the highest success rates of recovery are the addicts and alcoholics who went through the full spectrum of addiction treatment: detoxification (if their addiction warrants it), then partial hospitalization or inpatient treatment, followed by IOP and a commitment to stay in a halfway house or sober living community. Removing your child from the familiar environment where he or she drank or used drugs is essential, even if that sometimes means them leaving the proverbial nest.
Life Long Support and Accountability
It’s important to realize that no amount of treatment ever cures the disease of addiction. Recovery is a lifelong endeavor that will need continual support and accountability. You will need to encourage your son or daughter to stay on the path to recovery, continue to seek positive support systems, and to get involved in alumni groups.
If you have a son or daughter who has a problem with substance abuse but is unwilling to get help, you can take action. A trained interventionist can help you convince your child that they need help. Once they admit that they have a problem, you can guide them in finding the drug treatment program that’s right for them. If you are unsure of how to proceed, contact a professional in the field of addiction treatment, for guidance and assistance. Call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 855-619-8070 today and one of our trained and compassionate call representatives will provide the help you need.