For Parents of Addicts: A Guide for the Problem of Addiction

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Parents of an AddictBeing a parent means that you are responsible for the well-being of your child. As a parent, you do your best to protect your child from harm such as illness, injury, and other forms of danger. When a parent has a child that develops an addiction, it can be shocking, scary, and leave you and your family feeling unprepared. Parents of an addict sometimes make the mistake of blaming themselves or each other for their child’s substance abuse problem. They may even grow to resent the child or teenager for hanging out with the wrong crowd of kids and going astray from the rules that they have set.

Coping Skills You Can Use to Help Your Addicted Child

Confronting your child. Parents should be afraid of this step. Being the parent of a drug addict can be scary and is often unpredictable. Facing your child does not mean that you try to start an argument by being aggressive. Exhibiting excellent communication and having a willingness to confront them directly about drug abuse can be very helpful. Your focus should be on listening, asking the right questions, and trying to have a productive conversation.

Positivity is key. Whether your child is a teen or adult battling addiction, they do not want to feel judged or hopeless. Try to keep your focus on the positives when forming the discussion on treatment for the addiction. As a parent, you need to let your child know that he or she can be successful in their recovery.

Be consistent and outline clear expectations and boundaries. Practicing tough love is one of the best things you can do as a parent of an addict. No matter how your child is, there are vital points to keep in mind. The first thing is to be clear about your expectations. Make sure your child understands what you will not tolerate by highlighting cause and effect scenarios. Second, is to be consistent. Your message will not get through to your child if it is inconsistent. The third thing is to set boundaries and consequences if your child crosses them.

Do not enable your child. As a parent, you naturally love your child and want to protect them, but this type of behavior can lead to enabling. When you enable, you are the one protecting your child from the consequences of their actions. You might blame yourself, make excuses for them, or try to comfort them in the short-term. Your focus has to be on the success of long-term recovery. So, you need to stop any enabling behaviors.

Practice Self Care

When you are the parent of an addict, you can easily be consumed by your child’s drug addiction. Your life becomes filled with constant worry and looking for ways to help them. This can take a toll on your health and well-being. It can be hard, but you have to make your personal needs a priority. Here are a few key points to remember:

  • Take time for yourself
  • Go to therapy on your own
  • Find a support group for parents with children struggling with addiction

When you take care of yourself, it does not mean that you have chosen to live in denial. Some parents of addicts make the mistake of pretending the addiction is not an issue or that the addiction does not exist as a means to cope. This type of coping mechanism is not good for you, your child, or the rest of your family. Addiction is a serious illness that should be addressed. So, you want to make sure that you eliminate denial and equip yourself with information.

Take a Step Back

When you reach a point where you feel that you have done all that you can for your child, specifically when dealing with an adult child, you may need to take a step back. A break from the relationship can give you time to take care of yourself. You can also use this time to go to therapy on your own. This step can be beneficial for parents of addicts trying to cope with their child’s addiction. You may even learn better ways to communicate with your child and learn how to let go of some of the feelings of guilt or extreme sadness that often accompany the struggles of having a child that is an addict. In addition to individual therapy, you may find that a support group for parents of addicts to be helpful. Family therapy may also prove to be helpful.

These steps may seem overwhelming at first, but addressing your child’s addiction while managing your own mental and physical well-being is crucial. After you have taken the necessary steps, remember that you are not there to rescue your child. You cannot help someone who does not want to be helped.

Some Facts on Teens and Drug Use

  • Prescription drugs are a major culprit among teens. More teens die from prescription drugs than heroin and cocaine combined.
  • 60% of seniors don’t think regular marijuana use is harmful, even though THC (the active ingredient in the drug that causes addiction) is almost five times stronger than it was 20 or more years ago.
  • 1/3 of teenagers who live in states that have medical marijuana laws get their supply from those with prescriptions.
  • The United States represents only 5% of the world’s population, but 75% of prescription drugs taken. An estimated 60% of teens who abuse prescription drugs have access to them for free from friends and relatives.
  • Adderall is often prescribed to treat ADHD. Its use increased between 2009 and 2014, going from 5.4% to 7.5%.
  • By eighth grade, about 28% of adolescents have already tried alcohol, 15% smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% used marijuana.
  • Parents who consistently teach their teens about the risks of drugs, lower their chances of using them. They are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t get this information from parents.
  • 6.5% of high school seniors were reported to smoke pot daily in 2014 and increase from 5.1% in 2009. Less than 20% of 12th graders believe that occasional marijuana use is harmful, while less than 40% see regular use as dangerous. (These were the lowest numbers since the early 1980s.)
  • An estimated 50% of high school seniors do not see trying crack or cocaine once or twice as harmful, and 40% believe that it is not harmful to use heroin once or twice.

Addiction Kills: Don’t Let Your Child Become A Statistic

Every year, thousands of Americans are killed, and millions of lives are impacted as a result of addiction. No child is like the other. Addiction can come in many forms. Whether your child has a problem with alcohol, opioids, cocaine, or other substances, addiction is harmful and deadly. Addiction not only puts the life of the addict in danger, but the lives of their loved ones are at stake as well. Addiction can cause violent, irrational, and reckless behavior, which can affect other family members, friends, and others.

Addiction Statistics in America:
  • An estimated 21 million Americans suffer from at least one addiction, but only a mere 10% receive treatment.
  • Deaths due to drug overdose have tripled since the early 1990s.
  • From 1999 to 2017, there were over 700,000 deaths from a drug overdose in America.
  • Every year, alcohol and drug addiction cost the U.S. economy over $600 billion.
  • Over 90% of people who have an addiction started to drink alcohol or use drugs before they reached 18 years old.
  • Addictive drug use is more common among Americans between the ages of 18 and 25.

Getting the Treatment Necessary

Educating yourself on your child’s specific substance of abuse, and treatment options is crucial when you are trying to get them into a recovery program for drug abuse. Having a lack of knowledge and expertise will hinder your ability to assist them. For example, a child that is abusing a stimulant substance will not react in the same way when they are under the influence compared to when they have ended a binge. Someone using a depressant substance will present very differently compared to someone under the influence of other drugs. As a parent of an addict, taking the step to educate yourself and research the signs and symptoms of the drug, will help you to:

  • Notice the times when your child is using.
  • Notice their periods of abstinence.
  • Enforce appropriate consequences.
  • Reduce the risk of manipulation.

Reach out to our team of addiction treatment specialists by dialing (866) 327-2505. You can also contact us here.

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