It is important to be aware of the changes in the people around you; especially those you take personal responsibility for, such as a child. These changes could be an indication of something worse than just hormones or a bad day. With the wide-spread drug culture in America, it’s important to trust your gut and address your concerns before the situation gets out of hand. Dealing with a drug addicted child is a whole realm apart from dealing with adults; as they don’t have the same judgment, nor do they have the experience to reflect on their habits. It can be frightening and often puts a serious strain on relationships and family bonds, but we’re here to help guide you through the process with these tips for parents dealing with a child who has turned to drug use.
Being Aware of Symptoms and Changes
- The side-effects of drug use can range from physical or emotional changes to changes in performance or motivation. Drugs can slowly seep into people’s lives without those around them even noticing. The changes might be minuscule at first and are often misinterpreted. When it comes to children, who are ever-changing as they breach new stages in their development, spotting these red flags of a deeper problem can be even more difficult. These abnormalities can reveal themselves in changes in behavior, such as intentionally canceling plans with friends, sleeping more often than usual, losing track of assignments or their grades in school, or changes in their overall attitude. These can also be signs of deeper mental health issues and it’s important to take that into account and be sensitive to your child’s needs. Whether these changes start to prove themselves as a result of substance abuse, or if they’re just natural effects of puberty or stress, as a parent it’s your responsibility to keep communication lines open, without being accusative or over emotional. Due to the sensitive nature of the situation for all those involved, it’s not uncommon for these types of confrontations to escalate. In these cases it can be healthy to introduce a professional to help diffuse the situation and if necessary stage an intervention. When in doubt, it is never a bad idea to outsource your problem to someone with experience dealing with these types of situations.
Getting Rid of the Influence
- In many cases, your kids are not the ones instigating their substance use. There is likely someone or a group of people around them who have introduced them into this dangerous world. As long as those people are around, your child will be at a higher risk of continuing their bad habits. They need to be removed from their circle and environment to ensure the influence and pressure is no longer around to entice them. Even if your child does express a desire to stop using, all too often they will fall back into bad habits to keep up with their friends or peers.
Working On Your Relationship
- Practicing deceit and lying in order to support continual drug use are common traits of addicts, and as a parent, you are one of the few forces encouraging them to stop. It is extremely important to gain your child’s trust and reinforce their respect for you. Having a healthy relationship with your child will make them more likely to trust you enough to ask for help, or be honest with you about whatever is going on in their lives. Family therapy can be an effective means of facilitating these types of positive conversations. Seeking help outside your family’s circle can be an incredibly effective form of mediation in helping everyone understand where they stand as well as building the trust necessary to start making positive life changes.
Encouraging Positive Behaviors
- With such a delicate relationship and situation, it is important to try and avoid further conflict. Rather than picking small things to get upset about with your child, try finding small things to praise them for. Encourage them to do fun and wholesome activities you know they enjoy, and with people, you trust to be a positive influence. Not only can positive reinforcement build a better relationship between you and your child but it will hopefully inspire them to continue doing those things. The more time they spend engaging in positive behaviors, the less they spend engaging in bad ones.
- While it’s natural to want to always support your child’s decisions and be concerned about potentially hurting your relationship, making sure you are not enabling their bad habits can be just as important and your responsibility as a parent. Setting clear boundaries that you are ready to enforce and being clear as to where you stand in terms of your child’s choices can play a pivotal role in setting them on the right track and getting them the help they need. Wavering on your opinions or rules will only lead to a loss of respect for you and a sense of entitlement that can keep them from listening to your wishes.
Getting Outside Help
- When all else fails, or preferably before then, there are countless ways to seek help in these difficult situations. For some families, that means entering their child into a full-blown treatment program or facility. Others might need therapy sessions and detox. Whatever it means for you, seeking help is always encouraged. Unfortunately, many people hesitate to bring the outside world into their private lives out of fear of embarrassment or exposure. But these types of facilities respect the privacy of the entire family and benefit from their vast experience navigating through these difficult situations. They will help you because that is literally their job. No battle this difficult should be done alone.