It’s every parents’ instinct to swoop in and “save” their children, but what should you really be prioritizing when your child is struggling? It depends on the child, their age, and of course the obstacle they’re facing. For many parents, a child battling addiction is a terrible nightmare. However, if the child is 18 or older, there’s nothing you can do to “force” your child to seek help (unless of course, you have power of attorney). Before you begin considering approaches, make sure you don’t succumb to the myths surrounding addiction. There is a lot of outdated information and wrong information that persists in society.
Another common mistake is blaming yourself. While addiction does have a genetic component according to recent research, it’s no one’s fault that a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.
If your child is still a minor, here’s what you need to know to get started on the journey of helping them:
1. Understand that in-patient programs are often the most effective. Again, this will depend on the child and the degree of their substance abuse. However, in-patient programs surround patients in the best possible environment to help them build tool kits to address their addiction. The earlier a treatment program begins, the better.
2.There will always be slips. It’s very rare that an addict never has a slip-up. It’s part of the process, and no rehabilitation organization can guarantee a “cure.” There is no such thing. An addict is always an addict, but they do
3. The signs are often there, but when you’re in that situation, it can be difficult to accept and even harder to address. The change in personality, being gone throughout the night and sleeping all day, and paraphernalia might all be easy to overlook.
Even when you’re positive someone you know has an addiction, what happens next?
The Tough Part
Unless the addict is a minor, there’s no way anyone but a judge can force someone into a rehabilitation facility. What you can do, and what I never did, is talk to the addict. Sometimes they’re desperately waiting for someone to start the dialogue. However, it’s important to remember that you might not be well received.
Expect denial and anger. The most important thing you can do is tell them that you care about them and want them to get healthy. Once you’ve initiated the conversation, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to you. Don’t expect results or an admission right away.
You may need to prove to the addict how you know they’re suffering. There will still be excuses and even accusations from them. However, this also lets them know that you’re paying attention and worried about their well-being. It also gives you evidence and can help you feel confident.
If it’s possible to stage an intervention with a group of family or friends, that can be helpful. The more people supporting the addict, the better. Unfortunately, this also opens up an avenue for unhelpful anger from others in the group. Assess your situation carefully before deciding on the first conversation.
Choosing the Right Facility
When an addict is ready to get help, selecting the best rehab clinic for them takes effort. It’s important to tour the facility and know details of the care. What’s the staff to patient ratio? How long is the program and what’s the protocol for “slips?”
Ensure that you know the training and background of the director as well as the staff. Ask about success rates and what the average day for a patient looks like. It’s important to realize that many addicts have slipped their entire life and there’s no cure for addiction. However, the right facility can help addicts acquire tools necessary to live with the disease.