Coping with Your Teen or Young Adult’s Drug Addiction
If your child is dealing with drug addiction, you are facing one of the most difficult and heartbreaking situations a parent will face in her life. If your child is still a teen, or a young adult living at home, you have an up close and personal view of how this addiction is destroying her life, and that can almost seem like too much to bear.
If you have reached the point where she will be entering a rehabilitation facility, there is probably a great sense of relief. But, perhaps some anxiety as well about what to expect during this journey though treatment, and once she leaves and re-enters the world.
Here are just a few tips to keep in mind to help you, your child and your family navigate this challenging time.
Helping Your Child during Rehab
It is easy to feel helpless while your child is receiving treatment because you are not directly involved in the ‘program,’ but there is still a lot you can do even if you are not involved in the day-to-day treatment.
One of the best things is educating yourself about addiction—the more you understand what your child is going through, and what may have led him down this path, the more effectively you can deal with everything that is happening. You will be more patient and understanding; you will be able to develop more effective ways of communicating and strategies to assist.
Be an advocate for your child. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about any aspect of the treatment or program. If you don’t understand something, feel confused, have doubts or reservations, speak up. Get second opinions if that would make you feel better.
In most cases, rehabilitation for teens and young adults has a strong family therapy component. There is a lot of ‘stuff’ that needs to be worked through for the best chance at recovery. Your child may be mad at you; you may have a host of negative feelings toward your child. It can be scary but it needs to be worked through. Don’t shy away from these therapy sessions—attend all of them.
Re-Entering the World
Attending a treatment center is only the first part of a very long journey to sobriety and wellness. Getting back out into the real world is where the truly hard work starts. Your child will be face-to-face with temptations, stressors that could trigger relapse and a host of other issues. It is crucial you work closely with the treatment center to create a plan of action to help ease your child back into ‘real life.’ If he is living with you, firm ground rules, and consequences for breaking them, have to be firmly established.
If your child is at least 18, you might consider transitioning him to a sober living house for young adults, where he will have the support of other recovering addicts, and professionals who can teach him coping skills necessary to fight addiction and navigate the world as a ‘sober person.’
It is probably a good idea to continue family therapy.
Don’t Neglect Yourself
Dealing with a child’s addiction can put you through the emotional ringer. You likely have a lot of conflicting emotions about your child. You love him dearly, but probably feel quite angry for doing this to himself, and causing such upheaval in your family. It is probably a good idea to get some individual therapy, both during his time in treatment, and afterwards. Afterwards may be particularly important as you will be navigating a whole new reality, healing a fractured relationship, learning to let go anger and resentments, and various other forms of turmoil. Support groups for parents of recovering children is a very good idea-connecting with others who understand what you are going through can be life-saving.
Don’t neglect your marriage. Don’t neglect your own health and well-being. Don’t isolate yourself due to a sense of shame. The better ‘you’ you can be, the better everyone will benefit, especially your child.
A tough road lies ahead, no two ways about that. But, you will get through it. You just need to make developing a set of coping strategies a priority.