For a parent, one of the most harrowing experiences they can feel is witnessing their child struggling with addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. A young person that was once happy, productive and full of life and promise has become defiant, disrespectful and lost in a world where his or her newfound friends consistently find and cause trouble due to their involvement with drugs and alcohol. Parents can often feel overwhelmed with the burden of dealing with a child with addiction problems because traditional methods such as talking to their child, taking away privileges, or other forms of punishment are not working and the problem seems to go worse with each passing day.
In order for parents to adequately help their child with addiction, parents first need to fully understand why kids get involved with drugs and/or alcohol in the first place. With those foundations of understanding in place, parents then can formulate ways to help their child who is struggling with addiction. By analyzing the deeper roots of the issue, parents can move away from seeing only the symptoms of their child’s addiction and begin to see the underlying mechanisms.
Reasons Why Children Get Involved with Drugs
In helping a child with addiction, parents needs to understand from their child’s point of view why they may get into drugs. For some children, doing drugs is a way to fit in and to combat the loneliness they may feel because they may not fit into any other clique or school group. For others, doing drugs may be a way of getting attention from parents and other adults because other more accepted and productive means of getting attention (sports, academics, etc.) are not getting the perceived result. Other reasons why child may get into drugs and struggle with addiction are they started using for fun and quickly got in way over their heads, for self-medicating purposes, or because they perceive that using drugs is a part of growing up.
Ways to Help a Child with Addiction Issues
By knowing the underlying reasons and identifying those in a child with addiction issues, parents can find proactive and healthy ways to help their child with addiction problems. While there are many ways to provide assistance, here are a few tips for parents:
- Continue to love and care-try to put aside any anger or fear and realize that under that shell of addiction your child is still there. Let him or her know the reasons why you are angry and tell them that you care deeply for them.
- Talk-while talking to a child with addiction issues can present formidable challenges, if the parent can set the groundwork for meaningful discussion without yelling, scolding or preaching it may open the door for the child to communicate in a more open and honest manner.
- Get Involved with School-contact the guidance counselor at school and be proactive in relaying concerns. The school the child is attending may have a substance abuse program that is connected with the school.
- Ask help from extended family-there may be relatives or cousins they may have a great relationship with the child with addiction issues that can involve them in activities away from the use of drugs and alcohol. Practical activities are encouraged.
- Seek Professional Help-contacting a therapist or counselor that specializes in childhood addiction can provide the necessary guidance needed in order to help a parent deal with a child with addiction. Also, finding an adolescent treatment center drastically reduces the chances of the child using drugs in the future.
- Setting Limits-While it is paramount that a child battling addiction is shown love and compassion, there are limits that need to be set and followed consistently. Whether it is dealing with legal consequences or house rules, having consistent boundaries is crucial in adequately providing healthy assistance to a child with addiction
As stated earlier, it is important to get professional advice from an experienced and licensed psychiatrist, counselor or therapist to find the best possible ways to help a child with an addiction issue.