This special guest post is brought to your by contributing writer, Jenna. We do our best to protect our children from the dangers of the world. Not just the physical dangers, but mental and psychological dangers, like depictions of violence in the media. We do our best to give our children a strong foundation, to help them reach their full potential.
Unfortunately, it’s still possible for a child to stray into dangerous areas, like drug or alcohol addiction, despite our best efforts. So what do you do when that happens? How do you keep your child safe?
Face the Truth
We want to believe that drug and alcohol addiction only happens to certain kids, from certain families, in certain neighborhoods. “This sort of thing never happens here,” is a mantra that people repeat whenever the unthinkable lands on their doorstep. The fact is that drug and alcohol abuse can occur anywhere; from the exclusive, suburban, gated communities, to the gritty streets of the inner city. Marijuana, alcohol, and prescription drug abuse are all high amongst high-school kids at the junior and senior level; and the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that those numbers are rising each year.
Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of drug use; and if you see those signs in your child, don’t deny that it’s happening. It’s tempting to hope that the drug use is just a phase. After all, all kids experiment now and then; it’s part of growing up. While it’s entirely possible that it is just a harmless phase, it could also become something worse; and, only time will tell.
But time is not your friend, when it comes to drug addiction. Denying there is a problem, or waiting to see if the phase passes, could make the disease worse.
Get your kid to a counselor or check him into a drug treatment program. There are also options that include living facilities to help your teen transition into a sober way of living, places like Tucson Transitional Living are a great option for them to learn how to live independatly while staying on the sober path. Do what you need to do to get him away from the drugs, and away from the people and situations that might trigger drug use. The earlier you start, the better your chances of a successful recovery.
One thing to keep in mind is that the treatment should match the level of addiction. Sending your child to a strict residential treatment facility might be overkill if he’s just drinking alcohol on weekends. At the same time, a community support group might not be enough if he’s using OxyContin multiple times a week. Start with a professional counselor, who specializes in teen and adolescent drug use, and take it from there.
Addiction is considered a family disease because it affects the whole family, and also because the family dynamics can also contribute to the disease. That is not to say that the family is to blame, only that any stressful family dynamic, whether caused by the drug addiction or preceding it, can affect the addict’s ability to stay sober after treatment.
As a parent, you need to learn not only how to relate to your child, post addiction, but also how to forgive and recover from the emotional and mental trauma. The same goes for siblings and other family members that are close to the addict. Joining a support group, like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, working with a private counselor, or even going into a family-centered recovery program, can help heal and strengthen your family bonds. Not only will you and your other family members feel better, you also will be better equipped to help the addict stay sober, and have better coping mechanisms if the addict relapses.