How do I Tell my Child I Know They are Abusing Drugs?
As a parent, you now know that your child is facing something dangerous head on. This is a scary and confusing time, for both of you. Stay strong as a parent, seek the help you need, and present your child options for treatment. After understanding drug abuse and addiction, you can become better aware of what the next steps should be.
Become Educated on Drug Abuse
Drug abuse is using any substance, illegal or legal, how it is not intended. This could include over the counter medications and prescriptions. Drug abuse has the potential to lead to dangerous consequences, including developing an addiction. In order to better understand drug abuse and addiction, it is important to become educated on the topic. This will help promote better conversations between you and your child, fostering a level of trust.
What your child is going through is not your fault. Drug abuse and addiction affect millions of lives every day. You may want to first reach out to your primary doctor. They uphold confidentiality and will help give you information, as well as assess your mental health or provide you with referrals. You can also seek out information online or at your local library. Be aware that some of this information may be inaccurate. You can also speak with an addictions specialist or counselor to gain more of an understanding.
The stigma surrounding drug abuse and addiction is very damaging. Your child is going through a very stressful period in their lives due to battling this disease. However, that does not make them a bad person. Addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of circumstance. Drugs disrupt the natural thinking pattern and can cause someone to act out of character.
Is My Child Suffering From Addiction?
Drug abuse and addiction are often used interchangeably. However, they are different and boil down to meeting certain criteria. Those who are considered to suffer from addiction have to meet set criteria within a twelve month period. Drug abuse can be defined by experiencing either legal problems, physical harm to themselves or others, inability to meet obligations, or ongoing use of drugs in the past year. If someone experiences withdrawal symptoms, using larger amounts of drugs, isolation, abnormal patterns of behavior surrounding drug use, continued use, and multiple attempts to stop in the past year then they may be suffering from an addiction.
Addiction does not occur overnight. Although there is no set timeline, addiction usually forms after habitual use. Addiction usually begins with drug abuse and then spirals, due to the effects the drug has on a person’s brain. One of the first signs may be an inability to stop use, despite negative consequences occurring. This is because drug use causes the brain to act abnormally, making it release unnatural levels of dopamine. This causes a person to experience a “high”. The feeling is something the brain seeks to mimic. This is why addiction is considered a brain disease and requires treatment.
Create a Plan
Do not start a conversation with your child without first developing a plan of action. One tip is to find actual evidence of your child’s drug abuse. This way, your child will have a more difficult time denying their problem. Evidence could include tardy slips from the school, letters of termination from work, or paraphernalia. Often, the topic is raised on whether or not parents should invade their children’s space in order to search for evidence. It is the parents responsibility to care for and protect the child. If the parent feels that the child is in danger, they should feel allowed to search for evidence.
You may want to journal about how your child has been acting or strange occurrences that have happened. This way you can bring them up later during the conversation. It may be helpful to write a letter to your child. When you sit them down, you will be able to read the letter to them. Pick a time and place that will be appropriate. You will want it to be a calming and private location.
Make it a point to keep judgement and condescending comments out of the conversation. Your child may be in denial of their problem. You letting your anger get the best of you will not help the situation. Your child will be able to sense if they do not have your support and if you are passing judgement. Although, this does not mean that you sweep what they have done under the rug. They still need to be held accountable for their actions. Instead of saying, “You are a failure. You had to be kicked out school” say, “Since you missed so many days of school, you were suspended”. Stick to the facts.
Keep The Conversation Open
Tell your child that you will always be there for them. Explain to them all the goals that they have met and how you cannot wait to watch them accomplish everything they have set for themselves. Tell them that you love them and will support them during this time. Be open and honest with your child. They may not be willing to talk right away, but they may start to open up a little at a time.
This will help build a bond with your child during this difficult time and they will feel comfortable talking to you about what they are going through. This will not be just one conversation, but will always need to be an open conversation.
Talk About Treatment
If your child is suffering, they need treatment in order to get better. Without treatment, symptoms of drug abuse could prove to be life threatening. Attempting to self-treat at home can cause serious side effects, including relapse, overdose, and death. Tell your child the dangers of drug abuse and addiction. Treatment will help to better their overall health and happiness, setting them up for a bright future.
Arizona Addiction Recovery Center is home to expert healthcare professionals that love helping their patients reach their true potential. They will evaluate and provide your child with a unique treatment plan that will lead them towards success. Call today to learn more about their different treatment programs.