One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to watch a child self-destruct. We want to help our children succeed and to live lives free from pain and trouble. For a family that is being tested by a substance-abusing teen or young adult, the parents suffer as much as their child.
“Recovery Benefits Everyone” is the theme for this year’s Recovery Month. This holds especially true for parents whose child is in need of recovery. Too many parents have had to stand by and watch their child become lost to substance abuse. Too many parents feel helpless to do anything for their child because they feel like they’ve done everything they can to help, and failed. There are things parents can do to prevent their child from abusing substances, and to help them if they are addicted.
It All Starts with Prevention
Parents need to remember while their children are still young that they hold much power in the anti-drug/alcohol struggle with their children. Teens and adolescents do hear what their parents are saying and are much less likely to get caught up with substance abuse if their parent had regular talks with them about it. Talk to your child early and often about the dangers of drugs and that you expect them to avoid using them.
Many parents miss a crucial window of opportunity to get their substance-abusing child help. Parents don’t want to overreact, or they are too busy to notice, or they are too ashamed to admit it is happening to their family. For these reasons, many parents wait and try to handle the situation on their own, rather than get their child help right away. Parents of teens must remain vigilant in talking to their child and watching for signs of drug abuse. Sudden changes in behavior, a change in friends, dropping grades, demanding of privacy, and being more secretive are all things that teens tend to exhibit when they are first starting to get hooked on drugs. It is at this time that a parent should seek help, rather than waiting.
Get Professional Help
If a parent has tried to get help for their “hopelessly” addicted child and they keep sinking deeper and deeper into their self-destructive behavior, there are still things a parent can do. It may be necessary to show tough love, or to let the child fall to rock bottom before they can recover. Or, maybe the child just needs a supportive parent to stand by them. It is at this time that it would be helpful for the parent to seek professional help for their entire family. A parent can learn from a therapist or support group about what they need to do to help their child. Parents who feel they have no place to turn need to allow a professional to step in and help.