You’ve suspected for some time that your underage kid is using drugs. All the signs point to that obvious fact but a part of you was still hoping that you were wrong. Then finally, you found the proof that validated your suspicions. The hard truth is that your child is an addict.
So what do you need to do when faced with this heartbreaking situation? Is there a right or wrong way to react? Parents with adult children can choose to detach with love, but what if your kid is still an adolescent? What many parents do not realize is that how you act towards your kid when you first discover the drug use is very critical. Being too harsh might just spark further rebellion while denying that the problem exists might enable them to keep on using.
Parents who find out that their children are suffering from substance abuse all have the same goal – which is for their kids to stop using. But while the objective is similar, every relationship is unique. What motivated one child to start using drugs is different from another kid so it is important to tread carefully when addressing this sensitive issue.
While there is no single solution to make your kids stop this harmful habit, you can follow these steps to help you better deal with your child.
Control your emotions when communicating
The moment you find out that your child is using drugs, it is normal to feel a mix of emotions: anger, disappointment, blame, guilt, and despair. These emotions often drive parents like you to lash out at your child in the hopes of shaking some sense into them. But you need to understand that your kid is not a toddler anymore. Yelling at your child to stop using drugs is often not enough to solve the problem.
Saying harsh words can even make your child feel that you are judging them without understanding what they are going through. Instead of shouting or nagging, approach your kid calmly. Start the conversation by assuring them that you love them and you do not want them to ruin their lives.
Instead of lecturing about the dangers of drug abuse, ask them questions so they will start opening up to you. Ask them if they know the risks and the dangers associated with drug use and whether they are ready to face the consequences if they don’t stop.
Don’t instantly assume why they are using the drugs, instead, ask questions and listen. Don’t accept a shrug or an “I don’t know” as a reason, instead, find the root cause of the problem. This is important because it will help you in coming up with alternative solutions in place of drug use. Once you find out the reason, you can then encourage options that may be able to address their issues without substance abuse.
Most teens use drugs for the following reasons:
- For recreation because they are bored
- They are influenced by their friends
- They are depressed
- They want your attention
Spend more time with your kids
Most parents ground their kids by enforcing strict curfews, restricting social media use, and not allowing them to see their friends outside of school. While these may seem sensible, most kids are then left alone. Instead of realizing their mistakes, many kids would just feel misunderstood and go deeper into substance abuse the moment they get a chance.
While there is nothing wrong with setting rules for your child, you must ensure that you’re also not making them feel isolated. This trying time is actually a perfect opportunity for you as a parent to spend time with your child and strengthen your relationship. Instead of nagging, talk to your child about your own struggles as a teen. Go on outings, camping trips, or eat out together. Ask your child about activities you can both enjoy together.
Building a better relationship with your kid is also a great way to positively influence their lives. It will make them feel that even if you have given them restrictions, they are not alone and you’re always there for them to turn to.
Understand that addiction is a disease that cannot be easily dropped
When your children were much younger, it was probably much easier to make them follow what you tell them to. But if your child is an addict, you may reach a point where you’ll feel that you’ve tried everything. This does not mean that your child is not listening to you. Keep in mind that suffering from drug addiction is so much different than not finishing dinner or watching too much TV. Drug addiction is a serious disease that affects the brain which means that even if your child wants to stop, it is not easy to do so.
This is the reason why it is important that you seek professional help. If your child is 17 years or younger, you as a parent can put them into rehab without their consent. This may be the only choice to keep them sober.
In this challenging period for your family, you don’t have to do it alone. Seeking the advice of a professional can help you and your child overcome substance abuse issues in an effective and supportive manner.
If your child or your loved one is struggling with an addiction, help is available today. Contact Anaheim Lighthouse to learn more about our specialized treatment programs.