When you’re the parent of a drug-addicted child, it’s common to blame yourself, become angry and lash out, or even obsessively monitor your child’s every move. But none of these things will help in the long run. They can actually cause more damage.
To effectively assist your child during their struggle, you will need to work on improving your bond, implementing better communication, and taking the time to practice self-care. In this article, we’re explaining exactly how you can make these habits a helpful part of your child’s recovery.
So, continue reading for some advice for parents of addicts.
Advice for Parents of Addicts
You can’t control your child’s addiction, but you can certainly help them overcome it. Here are some behaviors, communication tips, and other advice that will help you along the way.
Take the Time to Educate Yourself
It is natural for a parent to have difficulty accepting their child’s addiction. And even more difficulty can arise when it comes to understanding the addiction.
The first thing you need to know is that drug addiction is not a choice. It is a life-threatening brain disorder that changes a person’s brain chemistry and their ability to make rational decisions.
Because of this, you may have noticed that your child is no longer interested in old friends, hobbies, and grooming early on. And with continued drug use, the symptoms will become more physical.
The physical symptoms may include:
- Changes in their appetite
- Weight loss
- Increase tolerance
In addition to understanding these symptoms, you should research the specific drug your child is addicted to. The more familiar you are with the effects it has, the better you will become at understanding what your child’s struggle.
Take Care of Yourself
This may sound counter-productive, but hear us out. It is normal for the parent of an addicted child to become completely consumed with their kid’s life and well-being.
You probably want to be at their side every hour of the day and that is completely understandable. However, this isn’t healthy for either one of you. After all, you can’t take care of anyone if you’re a wreck yourself.
Employ the help of a counselor or join a support group for the loved ones of addicts. Also, even if you choose to socialize less often than you did before, don’t completely abandon your social life.
More importantly, spend time with your family as a whole. This is especially true if you have other kids.
The last thing you want to do is make your other children feel unimportant because you are too focused on the child with the drug problem. Doing so can cause the neglected child to partake in negative habits or behaviors for more attention.
Let Your Child Face the Consequences
As a parent, shielding your child from negative things is part of who you naturally are. But when the negativity is a direct consequence of their actions, you have to change your way of thinking.
Don’t make excuses for bad behavior by softening the blow when it comes to consequences. This type of “protection” can even cause the issue to become worse.
Understand the Role You Play in This Situation
First of all, your child’s addiction is not your fault. This isn’t the result of some terrible parenting mistake you’ve made.
You should also know that you cannot be the one who controls the situation, although this is probably the first thing you’ll want to do. Instead, claim more of a partnership role in the situation.
For instance, don’t simply throw your child into a treatment center. Have a conversation with them about their treatment options so that they can help make a decision.
Gather information about different types of treatments. Make the decision together regarding an inpatient versus outpatient facility or one on one therapy versus group therapy.
Also, assist him or her with making productive plans for the future like finishing school.
Improve Your Relationship
Even if you’ve always been close, you’ll need to improve your relationship with your child to help their recovery. It is common for drug abusers to become deceitful and closed off while they are using which makes this step even more important.
Keep your communication open and assertive to avoid misunderstandings and gray areas. Also, it will help you catch problems early on.
Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered by simply using one word. You should also keep judgment out of these questions.
Here are some examples to help get you started:
- What can I do to help you today?
- What do you like about your treatment?
- What don’t you like about your treatment?
- Why did you choose to start using?
It might become difficult at times, but you will need to maintain control of your own emotions. Getting upset, defensive, or sarcastic won’t help and it can make your child feel attacked.
If you feel this type of negativity coming on, take a break from the conversation to calm yourself down. You can learn more here about de-escalating tension during interventions and difficult conversations with your child.
One of the best pieces of advice for parents of addicts is to make your own mental health a priority. You need to keep yourself in a position where you have the energy and strength to help them during their recovery.
For even more advice about health and sobriety, follow our site.