As a parent, you would go to any lengths to protect your child from injury, illness, or any kind of danger. But you cannot prevent your children from living their lives. This means your child can be exposed to drugs or alcohol and may go on to develop an addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 3 out of 4 young adults (ages 18 to 30) who are in addiction treatment programs began using harmful substances at age 17 or younger.
You may want to help a son or daughter who is using drugs or drinking heavily, but this is not always easy. People who are struggling with an addictionare often manipulative and deceitful as a consequence of their substance use. Their actions can lead to a breakdown in the family unit and wreak havoc in the parent-child relationship.
Many families in which a child is battling alcohol addiction, opiate addiction, or any other type of addiction are unprepared for the consequences. Parents feel ashamed, sad, and confused, and are unsure where to get help. A recovery coach can help you and your addicted child. They can aid you in developing coping mechanisms and healthy family dynamics. And they can work with you to create a long-term recovery plan for your addicted son or daughter.
Continue reading for some tips on how to help an addicted child and encourage them to get help for their substance abuse.
Plan an Intervention
You may have heard that a person has to want help to get better. But your son or daughter who is addicted may not be willing to start treatment. You can encourage them to seek addiction treatment by intervening. This does not necessarily mean staging a formal alcohol intervention or drug intervention to confront your son or daughter. In this scenario, popularized by pop culture, friends and family members get together and give the person an ultimatum – start treatment or else.
But there are less drastic ways of encouraging addiction treatment. You should try and stay involved with your child in a positive, ongoing way so that you can gently influence their choices around substance use. If you’re not sure how to do this, a recovery guide can help you improve communication and discourage substance use while avoiding emotions like anger, guilt, shame, and fear.
Use Incentives and Leverage
Lecturing a child on why they should stop drinking alcohol or using drugs is likely to fall on deaf ears. Yelling at them or punishing them may work in the short-term but is unlikely to have any lasting impact. Using incentives and leverage is a healthy way to encourage your teenager or young adult child to get treatment.
An incentive ties addiction treatment to something your child wants. So, for example, you could say to your son, “If you enter drug rehab and complete treatment, I’ll put down a deposit so you can get a place of your own.”
Leveraging works in the opposite way. It involves taking something of value away from your child. For instance, you could say to your daughter, “If you don’t get help, I’m going to stop allowing you to drive my car.”
Using incentives and leverage are a good way to get a child to start substance abuse treatment, but they can backfire, causing the person to become defiant and making the situation worse. A recovery coach can help present an incentive or leverage to your child in a loving way, so they are more likely to at least think about what you’re offering.
Encourage Positive Behaviors
You may be saying “I want help for my son” or “I want help for my daughter” and your intentions may be in the right place, but you might be going about it in the wrong way.
It is not unusual for parents of addicted children to focus on their child’s shortcomings and poor decisions. But this approach can lead to low self-esteem and confidence and eliminate any motivation your child might have to seek treatment.
Instead, you should focus on positive reinforcements and encouraging healthy behaviors. You need to think of recovery from drug or alcohol abuse as a team effort for your family. Engage in healthy activities together, communicate openly, and help your child adopt coping skills, while constantly encouraging them for their successes, however small. This approach will help your child feel empowered to make positive choices, including getting addiction treatment.
Seek Help Outside the Home
If you want help for a loved one, it’s not easy to seek it outside the home. You may feel ashamed, intimidated, or discouraged from talking about your problems with others. Your child may feel “betrayed” if you discuss their addiction outside the immediate family unit. But talking to a sober coach, drug counselor, or healthcare provider about your child’s problems with alcohol or drug addiction is essential to get them the help they need.
Addiction is a complex, longstanding disease, and you cannot overcome it alone. A family member battling addiction can lead to anxiety, fear, and a profound sense of helplessness. But help is available, if you know where to find it. A Recovery Guide can help you navigate the roller coaster of emotions and support your family throughout the recovery process.