If you suspect your child may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’re probably feeling a lot of overwhelming emotions, including fear, anger, disbelief and frustration. It’s not easy watching your teenager make poor choices and struggle with the consequences of addiction, and of course you want to do everything you can to help.
Addiction is a progressive brain disease that affects your child’s thoughts, attitudes and behaviors, and it will likely get worse without professional help. It usually takes more than good intentions or willpower to stop doing drugs once an addiction has set in, even if your child wants to quit.
The good news is that even if your child is ambivalent toward sobriety, recovery is possible, and the more support he has from family and friends, the better the chances for successful long-term recovery.
Signs of Addiction
Addiction is characterized by the inability to stop abusing a psychoactive substance despite the negative consequences it’s causing, such as relationship, health or legal problems. Many parents and other adults may overlook some of the signs of addiction, mistaking them for a normal part of development. These signs may include hostility, depression, or withdrawing from friends or family.
Other signs of addiction include a change in friends, an increasing neglect of personal hygiene, neglecting responsibilities at home and school, changes in sleeping or eating habits and a loss of interest in activities your child once enjoyed.
What to Do If Your Child is Addicted
Seeking professional assistance is crucial for helping your child overcome an addiction. You can start by taking her to her pediatrician or an addiction specialist, who will screen for signs of drug abuse, co-occurring mental illnesses and other health conditions and make a referral to a treatment provider.
In the meantime, educating yourself about addiction, treatment and recovery as well as learning everything you can about the substance your child is addicted to will help you better support her through each step of the recovery process. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are good places to start arming yourself with information.
Addiction is a Family Disease
Addiction affects everybody in the family as well as the family system as a whole, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Your involvement in your child’s recovery is crucial for ensuring the best possible outcome.
Family therapy and a support group for the loved ones of someone with an addiction are extremely valuable for helping you and other family members curb enabling or codependent behaviors, restore function in the household and improve communication among family members. Individual therapy can help prevent younger children from developing a substance use disorder later on, and it can help you address the range of negative emotions associated with your child’s addiction and learn how to best support your teen during treatment and recovery.
Even if your child is ambivalent toward sobriety, a high-quality treatment program can help him address the issues behind his drug or alcohol abuse and addiction, identify his own reasons for wanting to recover and develop a higher level of self-esteem and a greater sense of purpose. Through various therapies, he’ll learn how to recognize and replace harmful attitudes and behaviors and develop coping skills for dealing with stress, triggers and cravings.
An adolescent treatment program that takes a holistic, research-based approach to recovery and adheres to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Principles of Effective Treatment will help your child reclaim his life and get on the road to sobriety. Recovery isn’t easy, and there will be setbacks, but the more engaged you and your child are in treatment and aftercare, the better the chances for a positive outcome.
Contact us at 877-466-0620 for help if your child is struggling with addiction.