Anytime a loved one is struggling with drug addiction it can take a tremendous toll on you. You may feel like you’re on a constant emotional roller coaster, full of mostly downs but some ups as well. When you love an addict, you will likely start to feel hopeless, or even blame yourself and the family and friends of drug addicts tend to experience personal negative consequences, such as depression.
It’s easy to feel like you have completely lost a loved one to drugs when they’re an addict, and they’re no longer the person you once know. As hard as all that is, it can be even more difficult when it’s your child. As parents we want to protect our children, help them make the right choices and keep them safe, but how do you do that when they’re an addict?
As parents of drug addicts coping mechanisms are essential to preserve your own wellness, but you also need to be able to set clear boundaries in order to most effectively help your addicted child.
How Can You Help Your Addicted Child?
A big part of parents of drug addicts coping skills is learning the most useful ways to help their child. The following are some of the tips you can keep in mind if you’re the parent of an addict:
- Don’t be afraid to confront your child. Dealing with a drug addict can be scary and unpredictable, but have good communication and being willing to confront your child about their drug use directly can be helpful. This doesn’t mean that you’re aggressive or confront them in a way that’s going to lead to an argument or sense of defensiveness. Instead, focus on listening, asking questions and trying to have as productive a conversation as possible.
- Focus on positivity. Your child, whether they’re a teen or adult, doesn’t want to feel judged or hopeless. As a parent, you can focus on framing the discussion of addiction treatment within the concept of the positives. For example, letting your child know they can be successful in their recovery.
- Make sure you’re always consistent and that you outline clear expectations and boundaries. When you are the parent of a drug addict, no matter how they are, there are some key things to keep in mind. The first is that you should be clear with expectations. This can mean highlighting cause and effect scenarios so that your child understand what you won’t tolerate. You need to stick with the things you say, no matter how difficult. If you’re not consistent, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for your message to resonate. Also important are setting boundaries, and consequences if those boundaries are crossed. Tough love is often one of the best ways to deal with a child who is addicted to drugs.
- Eliminate your own enabling behaviors. You love your child, and you want to protect them, and it’s that natural tendency that can lead to enabling. Enabling means that you’re the one protecting your child from the consequences of their actions or that you’re shouldering the burden of their actions. You might blame yourself, make excuses for your child, or try to make them more comfortable in the short-term, rather than focusing on long-term recovery.
With these tips in mind, you can also consider arranging an intervention. Interventions can be a useful way to help motivate addicts to seek treatment.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s very easy to become consumed by your child’s drug addiction. You may be constantly worried about them or trying to find ways to help them, and then your health and well-being suffer as a result. You absolutely have to come to a point where your personal needs are a priority, no matter how hard it is.
Of course, taking care of yourself doesn’t mean living in denial. For parents of drug addicts coping often means pretending it’s not an issue or that it’s not happening. That’s bad for you, and it’s bad for your child and the rest of your family. When dealing with addiction you have to eliminate denial, and you have to empower yourself with knowledge.
At the same time, once you’ve recognized that you’ve done what you can for your child, particularly an adult child, you may have to take a step back from the relationship to take care of yourself. It can be incredibly helpful for parents of drug addicts coping with these problems to go to therapy on their own. This can help you learn ways to better communicate with your addict child, and how to alleviate some of the common feelings that can come along with having an addict child, such as guilt or intense sorrow.
You might also find a support group for parents of children with addiction problems.
Once you’ve done the steps above you should also make it a priority to grasp the fact that no matter what you do, in this situation you aren’t the rescuer, and you can’t provide help to someone who isn’t willing to accept it.
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