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For parents who have a child that has succumbed to addiction, it is often a roller-coaster of emotions. Feeling stressed, sad, confused and unsure of what to do next are all perfectly normal. Many parents find themselves questioning what they should do next, where to go for help and how to find out the next step forward.
It is important to recognize that feeling helpless and frustrated is something that is going to happen sometimes, but your main focus should be on developing a strategy to make sure that you can go on moving forwards towards getting your child the help they need.
This article looks at what a parent can do to help and their role in early intervention if their child is abusing alcohol or drugs.
Each day will likely bring a new set of challenges but there are many things you can do to help support your child when they are in early recovery and to support your family who is also feeling the impact of your child’s addiction.
One of the unfortunate effects of substance abuse is that it often leads to fractured family relationships. You may have found your child has become more secretive, more deceitful and argumentative. This can have a knock-on effect for other family members. It can be difficult to keep a meaningful relationship alive when your child is abusing substances but it is important to work on this, staying engaged with your child and communicating frequently and effectively.
Developing skills so that you ask open-ended questions and avoid making judgmental statements can help avoid negative interactions. Actively listening is another form of communication that helps you to gain useful information and allows your child to express themselves freely.
Staying calm during communication is vital – becoming emotional or responding angrily or being sarcastic can lead to more conflict and set up barriers between yourself and your child. It is fine to step away from a conversation for a while and return to it later if you feel you cannot stop things taking a negative direction. Ignoring the problem will not work, so focus on being kind, respectful and open to keep negative reactions to a minimum.
Instead of focusing on the (many) negatives associated with addiction try to keep focused on the positive. Blaming your child impacts their confidence and self-esteem which could lead them to increase their addictive behaviors. If you can focus on positives, look at achievements and build a sense that you are working together you will build a much stronger connection with your child.
Work with them to help them find healthier coping mechanisms, develop new relationships and take on new activities. Always avoid comparing your child with other people. Let them know how much you believe in their abilities, and how much you value them.
Language is important, so focus on encouraging and empowering communication which will go a long way in helping them with the challenges of early recovery.
It is vital to make sure your boundaries and expectations are clear and also to provide some guidance as to your expectations should certain problems occur. Your child should be encouraged to collaborate on these, both as an indication of your belief in their ability to work as a team and so they know that everyone is accountable in meeting these.
Inconsistencies or a failure to keep to established boundaries can have a bad impact on personal relationships – you must be clear of what is and is not acceptable and stick to this to avoid situations where there is tension or stress or leave you open to manipulation.
These boundaries are also useful to the parent – it will help stop you unwittingly enabling your child and accidentally setting their recovery back. Your child must own their responsibility for their addiction so do not make excuses for them. It is also counterproductive to indulge in self-blame or focus on short-term setbacks and conflict.
These boundaries and guidelines aim to enable your child to see that their recovery is their responsibility and fully under their control. This makes them more likely to seek help and stick to a program.
You have to learn to care for your own needs too. Very often parents are consumed by trying to help the person struggling with addiction only to find that they become incredibly stressed and at risk of burning out. Making sure you take time out for your own needs helps with your own physical and mental health. It is not uncommon for problems like heart disease, weight gain anxiety and depression to manifest in parents of addicted children so be sure to find some engaging and enjoyable activities for yourself.
By taking care of yourself you will ultimately be better able to support your child and sets them a good example to follow. Hopefully this article helped clarify Parents Role in Early Intervention for their Child.
For parents who have a child that has succumbed to addiction, it is often a roller-coaster of emotions.
If you have any questions about treatment programs or interventions please fill out our Contact Form or call us at The Last House and speak with one of our admissions counselors.
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