If your child is struggling with addiction, you may also be grappling with a tidal wave of emotions. Feeling unsure, confused, sad, or stressed is natural; it may make you question what you can do, or where you can go from here. For parents of children with addiction, some days may feel hopeless, but it is important to strategize and continue working towards getting your child help. Learn about what you can do, and a parents role in early intervention for their child’s drug and/or alcohol abuse.
How Can You Help Your Child?
While every day can bring its own set of obstacles to overcome, there are some practices you can implement to support your child in early recovery. This can help not only your child but also your family, who are equally impacted by addiction in different ways.
1. Improve the relationship
- Substance abuse can often significantly damage relationships. It can make your child take deceitful actions, cause them to become more combative, and change the dynamics between other members of the family. While this can make it difficult to maintain a meaningful relationship with your child, it is important to continue working on staying engaged and communicative.
- Use skills such as active listening and asking questions to improve conversation. Try to ask open-ended questions that are non-judgmental to avoid provoking negative interactions. This will help you gather information while simultaneously allowing your child to express themselves.
- Try to avoid becoming overly emotional in communication. Being too upset, sarcastic, or angry can make conversation take a negative turn. If you need to step away from a conversation and return to it later, do not be afraid to do that. Remember, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Instead, try to focus on reducing negative reactions and remain kind and respectful.
2. Encourage positivity
- With addiction, it is easy to focus on the negatives. Focusing on the mistakes of your child can make them lose self-esteem and confidence, which may lead to increased substance abuse.
- Try to emphasize positives and encourage good behavior. Building a sense of teamwork can help you stay connected to your child. Focus on helping them find healthy coping mechanisms, engage in new activities, and develop healthier relationships with peers.
- You can encourage your child without comparing them to others. Rather than focusing on their failures, try to convey positive messages to them by letting them know you believe in them, they are capable, and they are valued. Using this language can be empowering and may help them overcome hurdles in recovery.
3. Develop clear, concise guidelines
- Setting clear boundaries and expectations for your child can improve outcomes in addiction. You can develop these in collaboration with your child to further empower them in their own recovery. Establishing guidelines around the most commonly encountered events can help you hold you and your child accountable.
- Inconsistencies in boundaries can negatively impact your relationship with your child. Setting boundaries that tell your child the behaviors you will and will not accept can help you avoid instances of manipulation or tension.
- Boundaries also help prevent you from enabling your child. While enabling is often done inadvertently, it can be hurtful to you and to your child’s recovery. Do not make excuses for their behaviors, blame yourself for the situation, or focus on short-term conflict. Instead, let your child own the responsibility for their addiction and the repercussions that may follow. This can help them realize that recovery is also in their control, and increase their willingness to seek help.
4. Care for yourself
- Setting boundaries can help you care for yourself, but you must also learn to re-prioritize your own needs. Too often, addiction consumes not only the person struggling with it but those around them as well. You may reach new levels of stress and experience burnout as a result. It can cause you to struggle with your own physical and mental health and may manifest as depression, anxiety, heart disease, or weight gain.
- You can engage in self-care in numerous ways. Finding care for your child is important, but it is equally critical to find resources for yourself as well. Asking for help, joining a support group, or spending time doing activities you enjoy can help ease the burden. This, in turn, can make you better equipped to help care for your child.
- Practicing self-care can not only help you feel better but also help set an example for your child as well. Setting boundaries can further help you improve your own well-being.
Have questions regarding finding a treatment program or intervention for your child?
Call 800.465.0142 to speak with an admissions counselor.