Fear, agony, despair and shame are the emotions most parents experience when they find out that their child has an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
A wave of questions that seemingly has no clear cut answers bombard them. In the end, the why, when, where and how did it happen doesn’t really matter so much as deciding the best course of action to help your child find their way out of the labyrinth of a substance abuse problem.
Learning what to do if you think your child is addicted is important even if you later find out that they are not. Many parents refuse to educate themselves about underage drinking and drug use because of the erroneous belief that their child is not likely to be influenced to engage in substance abuse behavior. However, being caught unaware can prove to be detrimental to your child’s well-being. Many parents who lose their children to drugs often say they learned what to do after the fact and wish they had been more informed when they came face to face with their child’s addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) the following are indicators that your child may have a substance abuse problem.
- Becoming more secretive or defensive about privacy.
- Losing interest in older friends and transitioning to a new peer group
- Becoming more and more neglectful of personal appearance and overall hygiene.
- Getting into trouble with the law or school authorities.
- Unexplained absences, skipping classes or failing to follow through on academic responsibilities
- Loss on interest in family relationships and activities.
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits.
- Stealing or frequently borrowing money.
- Illnesses that go appear and disappear without cause.
- Behavioral changes such as increased hostility, moodiness or boots of depression.
While your child may not be exhibiting all these symptoms, it may be time to pay attention and possibly seek help if two or more are present. NIDA scientist report that brain imaging studies of people who engage in chronic drug use show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning memory and behavior control. This makes it extremely difficult to simply stop using drugs. Therefore, even if your child is willing to quit, they may not be able to safely do so without the help of a drug intervention process.
So what can you do if you think your child is addicted?
- Contact a drug rehab facility to find out about the services that they provide such as family interventions, medically supervised drug detoxification and other treatment options.
- Find a conducive time to have a non-judgmental conversation with your child. The NIDA “Family Checkup” tool provide science-based techniques that help parents to effectively communicate with a child about substance abuse and setting reasonable limits without triggering emotional outbursts of anger and rebellious behavior.
- If your child will cooperate, consult with a doctor who can screen for signs of drug dependence and other related health conditions. There are at least 3,500 board-certified physicians who specialize in addiction in the United States.
- Provide incentives for an uncooperative child that will motivate them to accept the help they need to stop the abuse.
- Be prepared to support your child’s recovery by making it possible for them to enter a drug rehab program for the time necessary to achieve full recovery and participate in relapse prevention education and training.
- Take steps if necessary to change the environmental issues that influenced their drug use. This may necessitate moving away from a neighborhood, family members or friends that favor drug use.
With the right approach and proper care, drug addiction is a treatable condition. It is also important to remember that denial and taking a defensive posture are characteristics of addiction. Experts suggest that you acknowledge your child’s opinions but recognize that people who are abusing drugs are typically afraid to stop and are usually ashamed of their behavior. As a result, they may not always be as truthful or forthcoming about their condition, the duration or the amount of drugs they use. For this reason, it is important to seek assistance from medical professionals with the relevant experience to help restore your child’s mental and physical balance through sobriety.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.