Being a parent can be both deeply rewarding and immensely challenging, especially if your child needs substance abuse treatment. If your child is college-age or older, there are extra considerations since you may feel unsure of your role and of what you can actually do to help. Be encouraged, though, that even if your child is an adult, your influence does matter, and you don’t have to feel like you can only watch and worry from the sidelines.
These are some important things to keep in mind as you take this journey.
- Your child’s addiction isn’t your fault. Parents tend to feel responsible for their children’s decisions, and children sometimes magnify it with accusations and blame. All parents do some things well and some things not as well, but children ultimately make their own choices. Although we all do it, dwelling on the past isn’t helpful since it’s impossible to change it, and it can sap energy better spent focusing on what can be done right now.
- It’s natural to feel grief over your child’s situation, which can manifest in many different ways. If your child needs substance abuse treatment, it’s likely to cause you a lot of pain. A study of parents of adult drug-using children found high levels of emotional distress.
- Your feelings, including anger and frustration, are very understandable, but letting them dictate how you communicate with your child is generally counterproductive. It can lead to defensiveness and shut down the conversation. It’s typically best to be direct but compassionate and to let your child know clearly that you’re on their side and that your concerns come from your love for them.
- Addiction is a serious disease, and recovery probably won’t be quick and easy. It’s often a process in which people at first don’t see the negatives of their substance abuse or believe the positives outweigh them. It usually takes time for people to understand how their substance use affects them and those around them and begin to understand their need for help. Even once they start the recovery process, relapse isn’t uncommon, but it doesn’t mean they won’t eventually succeed.
- It’s necessary to accept your limitations. No matter how much you love your child, how much concern you feel, and how much you want them to go to get the best substance abuse treatment, your options aren’t infinite. Psychology Today notes, “Loving yourself and accepting your limits will keep you from spiraling down as a result of your child’s choices.”
- Not being able to make your child’s choices doesn’t mean you can’t influence them. One important thing you can do is to let your child experience the natural consequences of their behavior. Your instinctive desire to protect them can sometimes delay their understanding of the situation. You can also offer both positive and negative incentives to help them choose to go to a substance abuse treatment center. Enticements and sanctions from family members have been shown to increase the rate at which people enter and stay in treatment and their ultimate treatment success. Once your child is in treatment, you can learn more about ways you can help. A good addiction treatment program will provide family therapy, which can help you and your child communicate better and become more of a team.
There are many options for addiction treatment, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by them. It’s important to remember, though, that helping your child get the help they need could save their lives. At The Right Step Hill Country, we are here for you and your family every step of the way. Let our recovery specialists help you better understand your family’s treatment options. Call us today at 844.675.1628.