It is absolutely paralyzing to learn that your child has substance abuse issues. Where do you turn for help? How do you know what steps to take? What is addiction, anyway? There are endless questions and no consolidation source of answers or support. In addition, the stigma of having an addicted child causes many parents to retract and withdraw rather than seek help. In truth, many families struggle with substance abuse issues, and the support, wisdom and guidance they need are not easily found.Parent Pathway was created for parents, by parents, to provide a place to find peace of mind at a time when their world feels like it is falling apart.
One of the most painful experiences that parents can encounter is when their teenaged child falls in with “the bad crowd” and becomes actively involved with drugs or alcohol. For the majority of parents, any element that can cause harm or injury to their beloved child will worry and pain them. Substance abuse is an incredibly difficult facet of a teenager’s life for a parent to endure.
A large number of people believe that, to stop abusing drugs and/or alcohol, you simply cease to imbibe any further. They erroneously see drug dependency and substance addiction as a collective problem for those who are in some way ethically weak. Unfortunately, it has become widespread opinion throughout society that drug abusers can simply alter, modify or stop their drug use behavior at will. This is obviously not the case. Many argue that the concept of substance addiction is heritable, and that both genetics and family background play an immense role in how a person formulates their own attitude towards drug use.
Because addiction in teenagers is generally characterized by recurring relapses and other temporary setbacks, those who are substance dependent do not expect to overcome their addiction immediately. Sadly, this typically dissuades them from trying at all, and they continue on their downward spiral. In order of prominence, the three steps that teens usually encounter are:
1. Experimentation: A teenager may give cigarettes, alcohol or drugs a try, and some may not partake any further after the first time.
2. Substance abuse: Experimenting with substances may lead to more regular use. Symptoms include a prominent increase in arguments, aggression or violence, and a considerable drop in school grades and interest in recreational activities.
3. Substance dependence: Also known as addiction, this all-consuming aspect can make your teen both physically and psychologically reliant on a particular substance to an extremely intense degree. At this juncture, teens have a higher proclivity for engaging in high-risk behaviors such as unprotected sex, and can suffer from paranoia, hostile mood swings and severe bouts of depression. This final step is the chronically progressive and possibly fatal component of the disease, and will succeed in siphoning off a substantial part of your teen’s life.
A complicated process is needed to reverse drug dependence. If you suspect that your teen has become involved with alcohol or substance abuse, you must confront them and ask. Voicing your concerns will save them from a great deal of pain and suffering. Find out what substances your teen has experimented with, and try to gauge the extent of their usage. Listen carefully to what they liked about the experience in the first place, and ask about their thoughts on quitting this drug-related behavior.
Discuss every concern you have together, provide drug education and talk about the awful consequences and long-term effects. Finally, ask for the professional help that only a doctor or mental health professional can provide. A drug treatment center can offer a warm and comforting setting where you can discuss your problems with others who also suffer the same symptoms. You will not regret this important decision and, while it may not seem like it now, recovery is closer than you think.
A Place of Hope’s Center for Counseling and Health Resources can help those seeking addiction treatment for illicit substance abuse addiction, prescription drug addiction, or problems relating to gambling, steroids, sedatives or alcoholism. Under the expert tutelage of Dr. Gregory Jantz, our dedicated team of addiction medical professionals, psychologists, nutritionists and fitness trainers will help you to address the physical and mental issues behind your symptoms. For more information, please visit us online at A Place Of Hope For Addiction or call toll free on 888-379-3372. Everyone deserves a healthy, well-balanced and addiction-free life.
One of the dilemma’s with drug and alcohol rehab is lack of readiness of the addict to want sobriety. Usually as parents we want it for them more than they do for themselves. Each time my daughter went into rehab she was given a fork in the road – go to rehab or go out to the street – her choices were limited since she had narrowed her world to other people also making poor choices. This in retrospect was a gift. The ‘friends’ she had made were like ‘fair weather’ friends only their version was ‘share the wealth’ – as long as my daughter had money or drugs, she had lots of friends, when either of these ran out, the ‘friends’ were nowhere to be seen. This worked in our favor when we came to the cross roads. As anyone reading this and who has a child or loved one struggling with addiction – the crossroad comes – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but it always comes.
One of the learning’s along the way is that I was still ‘managing’ my daughter’s life and her recovery. While this can appear to be very loving and very supportive, it is just prolonging the true impetus for the addict to make a change. It’s easy for people when others make decisions for them – when it doesn’t work out then all the blame can go back to the person who made the decision. It also keeps the person from learning responsibility. All through this part of the journey I was teaching my daughter that she was not capable – that I had to be involved for her to survive. It is the essence of co-dependency. I had learned this along the journey. I gained the awareness that I needed to make changes with myself if I truly wanted what was best for my daughter.
I’ve thought a lot about hope because it is such an essential part of recovery for all. I first felt a stirring of hope when our son cried out for rehab. Finally, a glimmer of light leading out of the madness. I began to tally up the days of his sobriety, mistakenly believing that we’d reach a magic number at some point and our son would be miraculously and permanently healed. The nightmare would be over.
I don’t know if that was hope or ignorance, but it kept me going through some very dark days. The truth is that relapses– which may be a part of this disease—tends to occur further and further apart as time goes by. One year without relapse, then three years without relapse. But there are no guarantees. Still, each day of recovery gave me a larger sliver of hope.
At the same time, misplaced hope can impede recovery because it drives us to take unreasonable action. Because we hope against hope that our children are “cured,” we write the check for the apartment instead of Sober Living. We hope they have seen the error of their ways and will resolve to change course this time, once and for all. This time they really really really mean it, so we lend them money again, or lend them the car. We hope, above all, that the sheer force of our love for them will give them the strength and conviction to resist drugs or alcohol. If only it were that simple.
Our hope for their recovery leads us to make mistakes– to rent that apartment for them, to pay their bills “until they get back on their feet.” Misplaced hope can make it easier for our kids to stay sick than to get healthy.
Most of all, our children need hope for brighter days. We give them that gift when we honestly and realistically take action that support their recovery instead of their substance abuse. When believe in them and give them the reigns to their lives and let them know that we won’t be dragged through the mud again. Only then can they believe in themselves.