Crippling, hopelessness, poisoning, affliction, dependency, abuse, these are all common terms associated with addiction; they paint a very bleak future for those addicted to drugs and alcohol. If you’re the parent of an addict, then you’ve likely seen all of this turmoil and strife first hand. It can be devastating to watch your child become one of the millions of people that battle drug and alcohol abuse every day.
This article may not alleviate that pain for you, but our hope is that the following tips for parenting an addict will help relieve the feelings of uncertainty and helplessness. If you need advice about what to do and where to turn to, keep reading:
Take A Deep Breath
One of the first things you have to do before you can be a parent to your struggling child is take care of yourself. While your immediate reaction is to do anything and everything to get your child healthy and on the road to long-term recovery, you aren’t going to be able to do that if you’re simultaneously drowning under a mountain of stress and anxiety.
If you don’t appropriately handle these stresses, your ability to care for your child is in jeopardy. Not only can extreme amounts of stress cause health issues like depression, obesity, and a higher propensity for getting sick, but they can also hurt your ability to stay level-headed and make the right decisions for your child. Otherwise, you’ll be more prone to fighting with the child and giving in to them, even when that means furthering their addiction.
This is when your child needs you at your absolute best, so you cannot be bogged down with stress. So, take a deep breath, put on your Super Mom or Super Dad cape and remember that you are not alone, you are a good parent and every day moving forward is a step closer to recovery.
Drug addicts, no matter their age, are dealing with some internal issues caused by these illicit substances. One of the most significant problems facing an addict is low confidence and poor self-esteem. They no longer feel like they have any self-worth. These feelings are only exacerbated when parents focus their attention on the child’s poor choices and mistakes that lead to their addiction.
Instead of focusing on these negative behaviors, your attention should be on encouraging the positives. Forget the past failures and reinforce a positive and prosperous future. This will help restore the feelings of self-worth that your child needs to get them in the right frame of mind to seek recovery and be successful.
If you and your child are notoriously bad at positive communication, then you may want to seek the help of a family therapist that can help you establish a positive foundation moving forward.
Set Clear Rules and Boundaries
While positivity is essential, it is also crucial that you set clear rules and boundaries for your son or daughter. These will dictate what you will and will not do for your child and what they are allowed and not allowed to do. It’s essential that these guidelines are laid out and strictly enforced. This is the time when you have to be a strict parent because teens battling addiction are very good at pushing those limits and getting around weak boundaries.
That said, it is essential to strike a balance between setting clear boundaries that will protect your child from dangerous behaviors and not entirely stripping away their freedom. For example, you don’t want to restrict them from leaving the house completely, but you do want to set some restrictions on when they go out and with who. Remember, their close friends are a support system too.
If you’ve never had any strict boundaries in your household, there’s going to be some immediate tension and an added chance of conflict. These rigid guidelines are critical because they demonstrate that you are not only serious but also that you cannot be manipulated into letting them have their way. If you give in to their actions, you’re enabling them to continue their bad, drug-related behaviors.
Utilize Available Resources
Millions of people struggle with addiction themselves or have a family member that is battling drug problems. There are people right in your community, even other parents, that you can connect with and lean on for help and guidance.
Take the time to research support groups, addiction counselors, and other resources available in your area. Also, there’s national and state hotlines and other services that you can call when you need a little extra support.
These resources can help alleviate some of the pressures that you and your child are facing. Support groups are particularly compelling because they help to destigmatize your child’s addiction and gives them personal connections with people that understand what they are going through and what they need to do to get better.
Help You and Your Child
These tips for parenting an addict are designed to help you and your child find a better, drug-free future. As you reinforce positive behaviors in your child, it will be easier to convince them to get real treatment from a rehabilitation facility. Ultimately, the goal is to have them develop an addiction to sobriety, instead of substances.