A Guide for Parents
A Guide for Parents of Addicts: How to Help Your Loved One
Having a child who is struggling with addiction is hard. You have probably gone through great lengths to protect your child from illness or injury. But despite that, they have succumbed to the disease of addiction. This is not easy to process and can have you and your family feeling unprepared and shocked.
What Causes Addiction in Children and Teens?
Kids and teens are often exposed to and influenced by external factors that can cause a substance abuse problem. However, this is not always the case. Studies show that some genes relate directly to addictive behaviors.
No matter how much blame you put on yourself, it may be that there was no way you could’ve prevented it. There are external and internal factors that no one can truly control, including your child.
An unhealthy environment is one aspect of your child’s life that may be linked to addiction. This could include their own home, their school, or anywhere they spend most of their time. Unhealthy environments can lead to emotional instability or other emotions that can trigger substance abuse.
These problems along with many more can push individuals into self-medicating with drugs or developing alcohol addiction. Traumatic experiences are often the root of many early cases of substance abuse. Experiencing any level of abuse or witnessing tragic events can lead to addiction.
Mental illness can also trigger substance abuse. There are co-occurring disorders that have an effect on the possibility of addiction. Some children have exposure to prescription medications at a young age. The early consumption of these medications can cause dependency to develop and eventually lead to addiction.
Signs of Addiction in Kids and Teens
One of the most challenging aspects of addiction is that it is a progressive disease. Early warning signs can be hard to spot and unhealthy patterns can develop into a full-blown addiction if not addressed.
Chances are your child’s mood swings can be attributed to the changing hormones that come with growing up. Changes in mood are normal for kids and teens. It could be something to watch if these other behaviors occur, though. They could be signs of substance abuse.
- Missing school/work
- Avoiding eye contact
- Sleeping more than normal
- Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Dropping old friends for a new group
- Grades dropping or issues performing
- Acting secretively most of the time
- Lying constantly, manipulative behaviors
- Trouble remembering things or concentrating
- Emotional instability or extreme mood swings; paranoia
- Isolating from others/damaging relationships with family or friends
- Changing eating habits or sleep patterns (excessively or not enough)
- Lacking proper or usual hygiene and carelessness regarding their appearance
Some of these and other possible behaviors can be a sign of substance abuse in your child. However, some of these can be common teenage behaviors as well. This is why it’s important to not make brash decisions by confronting them about addiction with only a few reasons why you believe it has become a problem.
How To Support Your Child Struggling With Addiction
If you have a child struggling with addiction, the time will come for you to support them while they are dealing with tough problems. It is good to acknowledge your support for them in the beginning.
Make it clear that you are available for emotional support. Simply knowing that you care about them and will be there to support them throughout the entire process can be powerful. It can reassure and motivate them to follow through with treatment.
The treatment process looks different for everyone. You must begin or continue researching a good rehab facility. It can be a good idea to search for a treatment program together so both of your questions and concerns can be expressed and addressed while searching.
Not every rehab program is a good fit for every person. Based on your child’s unique situation, there could be important co-occurring conditions to consider when deciding where to go. Some programs are better equipped than others which is why research is so important.
A necessary part of taking care of your child is also taking care of yourself. Addiction affects all the loved ones of your child. It can hurt their siblings and even your relationship with your spouse. Keeping track of your own well being is a key factor in your ability to help your loved ones.
How To Discuss Substance Abuse With Your Children
When talking to your child about substance abuse and addiction, it is important to understand their mindset. They could be experiencing feelings of shame, disappointment, frustration, and even anger.
You might also be experiencing similar negative feelings. These responses are natural but communicating these feelings to a child or teenager in the form of accusations, judgments, or criticism won’t help the healing process.
When you’re having conversations about your child’s addiction, try to avoid using a negative tone. Don’t use slang words such as “junkie” or “druggie” when referring to people who use drugs. Hints of condescension or judgment will easily come through and may destroy the foundation you’re trying to build.
Your tone of voice can make a difference in how your child responds to your discussion. Kids are hyper-aware of the way their parents speak to them. Communicating your feelings in a calm and collected manner will allow for the best feedback.
Try to find the common ground between the two of you to build a connection off of. Your goal should be to help them recognize what the consequences are of substance abuse. They need to realize that their actions have direct repercussions such as problems in school, difficulty learning, loss of friends, or loss of their job.
5 Truths for the Parent of an Addict
You might be reading this today because you are just starting your journey, or maybe you are already deep into it looking for answers. There are a few truths that, no matter where you are on this roller coaster, will make an impact on you and your child’s experience.
Your actions as a parent are not what made your child become an addict. It is an outcome decided by their actions that have gotten them to this point. Don’t waste your energy worrying about what you could have done differently. By doing this, you will only affect your own morale.
You can’t fix your child’s addiction. No matter how many rehabs you send them to, or how much money you spend on self-help books, or finding all the support groups near you, these things won’t help until they decide on their own to change. It sometimes requires them to hit a personal rock bottom to make an effort to get clean and sober.
Bailing your child out of trouble, or jail, is not always the best thing for them. This is not protecting them but enabling them to avoid the consequences of their actions. Chances are your child will survive jail time, even if you leave them there for an extended period of time. The reality of spending days or weeks in jail could be what they need to decide they want to make an effort to recover.
Loving your child unconditionally isn’t always enough. Your child will harm themselves and cause more pain than you could imagine. All the love in the world couldn’t change it or prevent it. They may ruin relationships with friends, family members, or with you. They might cause irreparable damage to their lives from their drug use. This being said, you will still love them, even at their worst. Always let them know you believe they have the ability to recover.
There is always hope, even in their darkest hour. They may find what they need in the most unlikely of places. Never give up on your child.
Get the Help You Need at Free by the Sea
Getting treatment as soon as possible will help improve your child’s chances of becoming a happy and healthy adult. They do not have to be in this for forever, help is available for people of all ages.
Kids and teens sometimes need different kinds of treatment than adults. There are inpatient or outpatient programs that offer a variety of services. The specific needs of your child will be addressed during their time in rehab.
Some needs of teens include, but are not limited to social development, family therapy, or continuing education. No matter what age your child is, struggling with addiction is an issue that they will need to get help for.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about your options, visit our website and contact us today. We offer a wide range of treatment options that could be exactly what your loved one needs to recover.
At Free by the Sea, our team is ready to help anyone who has the courage to take the first step toward recovery. The path to sobriety can be long but our facility is equipped with a support system unlike any other that will play an important role in your journey. Our facilities offer several addiction treatment programs that can put your child in the best position to fully recover.