Have your child’s grades been dropping in school? Did they quit their favorite club or sports team? Are they sneaking around or acting defiant?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may be showing signs of drug addiction in teenagers. Trying to cope with your child’s addiction problems is always difficult. And it can be even harder when they still live at home, whether they’re a legal adult or still a minor.
However, there are ways you can cope and give your child the help they need.
Do you want to know more? Keep reading to discover the best advice for parents of addicts.
Learn More About Addiction
Believing common misconceptions, like drug addiction is a choice, can make it almost impossible to cope. After all, thinking that your child is actively choosing this lifestyle is heartbreaking.
That’s why your first step is to read up on addiction. It’s important to understand how drugs are affecting their brain and why it’s difficult for them to stop using.
Learning about addiction and detox programs also helps you understand what the next steps are and what to expect. Believing that your child will be 100% cured after rehab will only set you up to be disappointed again if your child relapses or isn’t completely back to their old selves.
Through research, you can understand how difficult this is for your child and learn to recognize and celebrate the small achievements they make on their road to recovery.
Understand That It’s Not Your Fault
As a parent, it’s all too easy to blame yourself. Questions of “where did I go wrong?” and “how could I let this happen?” start to swirl around your mind.
But it’s important to know that it’s not your fault. Drug addiction affects people from all different upbringings, backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups. Even children with the best upbringings can fall victim to addiction.
Aside from helping you cope, this step is also important to help your child overcome their addiction. Drug addicts often look for someone else to blame for their actions.
Your child will likely try to blame you at one point or another. Accepting this blame is allowing your child to push the responsibility off of themselves, which will make it harder for them to realize they need help.
Learn to Separate Your Child from Their Addiction
During their struggle with addiction, your child will partake in some unfavorable behaviors. Maybe they become irritable and begin to yell at people for the smallest reasons. Or maybe they steal money from you in order to buy drugs.
The truth is, you’ll likely feel resentment and anger at some point. But it’s important to remember all that research you did before.
Knowing how addiction is affecting your child can help you separate your child from the addiction that is taking over. Think of them as two separate entities.
This way, you can love your child and point all your negative feelings toward addiction. This will relieve any guilt you feel if you were previously feeling anger and resentment toward your child.
Join a Support Group
“Why does it have to be my kid? Nobody else has a child battling addiction.” If thoughts like this are running through your mind, consider joining a support group.
You’ll meet other parents of addicts who can support you and give you advice on how to handle various situations. It’ll also prevent you from feeling isolated and bottling up your emotions.
There are tons of support groups to choose from. If you’re on a tight schedule or aren’t ready to join an in-person support group, consider looking for one that takes place online. You’ll still get all the great benefits while retaining a greater sense of privacy.
Seek Help from Loved Ones
Living with a child who is addicted to drugs is tough. But you don’t have to do it alone.
Make sure you talk to your spouse to ensure you’re on the same page. You can act as a united front when the time comes to have difficult talks with your child, and you can support each other.
If you’re divorced, consider talking to your ex-spouse. It’s important they are aware of their child’s addiction, especially if your child spends some nights at their house.
Being on the same page with your ex as far as boundaries, rules, and methods to deal with drug addiction can help give your child the consistency they need. If you’re strict at your house but your ex isn’t strict or even aware there’s a problem, your child will likely start using their time at your ex’s house to do drugs.
Forming a united front with your ex can help you feel supported and let you relax when your child is at their house-both of which can make coping easier.
Set Boundaries and Stick to Them
Does your child stay out until the wee hours of the morning? Did you find needles or other paraphernalia in your home?
When talking to your child about addiction, it’s important to set boundaries. Rules like no drugs or paraphernalia in the house, you need to be home by curfew, and you need to tell me where you’re going before you leave the house are all reasonable rules to set down for your teenager.
But the most important part is to stick to these boundaries. It’ll help you cope if you at least know your child isn’t doing drugs at home and you know they are safe at home by their curfew.
Talk About Treatment Options
Of course, your first instinct is going to talk to them about their addiction. However, trying to get your child to admit they have a problem isn’t enough. Even if they do admit they’re addicted to drugs, they likely won’t know what to do next.
That’s why you should come up with a plan to tackle this talk before you say anything. Finding the right way to talk to your child about treatment can help them realize they need help.
It’s important to research some treatment options beforehand and have them ready to present to your child. Know the difference between inpatient and outpatient facilities and be ready to answer some of their questions.
Knowing what options are available and how they work can help you cope by assuring you there is something that can be done. So, don’t hesitate to look into treatment centers even if your child isn’t ready to accept help yet.
Don’t Blame Yourself If They Don’t Accept Help
Admitting that there is a problem is a hard step for addicts. It can take a long time and many mistakes before they realize this. And even once they’ve realized it, they still may not be ready to accept help.
If you present treatment options to your child, don’t blame yourself if they refuse to go. Remind yourself that you’re doing all you can, and your child needs to decide on their own that they need help.
You can continue to bring up treatment options in the future, but blaming yourself for your child not accepting help will only make it harder to cope.
Don’t Stretch Yourself Financially
It’s only natural to want to help your children in any way you can. Maybe you keep giving them spending money when they say they’re going to the movies or the mall. Or maybe you’re paying for their car insurance because they keep telling you they can’t find a job.
But if helping them is stretching you out financially, you have to stop. Putting yourself into debt or a life where you live paycheck to paycheck is just going to add unnecessary stress to your life and make you even angrier if you learn your child has been lying about going to the movies or not finding a job.
Instead, offer help that doesn’t stretch you too thin. You could offer to cook them dinner at home instead of giving them money for take-out or help them shop for a lower car insurance policy.
Stop Covering for Them
Did your child get into a huge screaming match with Uncle Jim on Thanksgiving? Did they get arrested and call you for bail money?
Many parents feel that they need to help their child out of these sticky situations. So, maybe you talked to Uncle Jim and smoothed things over and you drove straight to the country jail to bail them out.
However, as hard as it seems, you can’t help your child in these situations. Addicts need to be held accountable for their actions-it’s the only way they’ll realize they have a problem.
It may seem like letting them spend the night in jail will make it harder for you to cope. But once you learn to make them face the consequences of their actions, you’ll feel less stressed and on-edge. You won’t have to spend that extra money on bail, you won’t have to leave work early to go get them, and you’ll know you’re doing the right thing to make them realize they need help.
Know the Difference Between Love and Enabling
Your child is going to need all the love and support they can get while going through addiction and detox. But it’s important to know the difference between love and enabling.
Loving and supporting your child will help you cope during this difficult time. Researching treatment centers, encouraging them during rehab, spending quality time with them after treatment, and attending family counseling sessions can all help your child get better and help you cope since you know you’re doing all you can.
Enabling your child by giving them pocket money and covering for them when they get in trouble is not only bad for your child, but it’s bad for you too. You’ll just feel more stressed and angrier when you have to continually help your child get out of sticky situations.
Plus, your child will likely take longer to accept help. The longer your child is addicted, the harder it can be to cope.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
When your child is suffering from addiction, it can be all too easy to make them the focus of your daily life. You may be constantly worried about where they are and what they’re doing. You may have stopped seeing friends, so you can keep an eye on your child at all times.
But this isn’t healthy, and it won’t make coping any easier. You have to remember to take care of yourself too. It’ll reduce stress and help you keep a level head when you do need to discuss your child’s addiction with them.
Continue to partake in your hobbies, whether that be your Sunday morning yoga class or taking a nice relaxing bath a few evenings a week. Don’t be afraid to go out with your coworkers on Friday night or stop by your neighbor’s barbeque for a bit.
Doing this will help you regain and maintain your life outside your child’s addiction. You’ll find it much easier to cope when you have your own separate life and ways to reduce stress.
The Best Advice for Parents of Addicts
If you suspect your child is struggling with addiction, don’t wait! Find all the advice for parents of addicts you can and come up with a plan to handle your child’s addiction.
Is your child ready to accept help? Then contact us today to learn more about our programs. We can guide your child on the road to recovery and help them overcome their addiction.