Would any parent intentionally encourage their children to use drugs? Not likely, but "actions speak louder than words" and parents' actions can, unknowingly, contribute to drug use. Check out the following articles below for parenting tips on drug recognition, prevention and rehabilitation.
If your child is doing drugs
Discovering that your child is involved with addictive substances is a tragic and devastating event. No matter how much we read and hear about addictive substances in the media, films and music, it still shocks most of us when we find our own children experimenting with drugs, alcohol and other addictive substances.
You are not alone. The use and abuse of addictive substances affects families across Canada. Addictive substance usage knows no economic, social, ethnic or racial boundaries.
Drug related offenses in Canada were one of the few crime categories to actually see an increase in 1998 (the most recent year for national crime statistics) with a 6 per cent increase over the previous year. A study of 712 Canadian street youth revealed that 2 out of 3 were using alcohol and/or other drugs daily or weekly with the majority being moderate to heavy users. Yet this only scratches the surface of how pervasive addictive substances are in our society and what it’s doing to our kids.
If you think your child may have a problem with addictive substances, you need to take some concrete steps to address the problem. Here are some things you should consider:
Acknowledge the problem and resolve to deal with it.
It’s important that you not deny the problem exists even though it is difficult to deal with. On the other hand, don’t overreact. Ranting and raving, screaming and yelling will only make a bad situation worse. You need to calmly and prayerfully consider what to do to help your child and your family.
Understand that the problem is bigger than simply substance usage or abuse.
A child who uses addictive substances is crying for help. It’s a way to try and cover the hurts, disappointments and pain many children feel. The hurt could be physical or mental, but it also has a spiritual element to it, a search for the meaning to life that comes from having a relationship with God.
Get your facts straight before going to your child.
Make sure you understand what substance abuse is all about before confronting your child. Different substances (both legal and illegal) have different effects and dangers and it helps to know what you’re dealing with so you can speak with knowledge and authority to your child.
Prepare to confront your child.
Before you confront your child, you need to search your own heart for ways in which you may have failed him or her. Your child will not listen to you if you are not living what you preach. Whether you failed your child intentionally or not, it’s important to honestly confess and apologize to both your child and to God. Prayer and personal confession is important for preparing your heart for the tough task ahead. Once you've prepared your heart for going to your child, select a comfortable setting where you won’t be disturbed by phone calls or other people interrupting you and where your child won’t be threatened.
Confront your child based on unconditional love.
It’s important that you show your child that he or she is loved unconditionally no matter what they’ve done. Make sure they understand that you’re not going to yell or throw things no matter how upset or hurt you are – but that you want to hear the truth. Share with them what you have confirmed or suspect about their usage of addictive substances. Allow them the opportunity to admit the truth. Be sure that the child understands that you cannot allow the substance use to continue because you love him and don’t want to see them go down the terrible path that leads to substance abuse. They must understand that you "mean business." Most of all, use the opportunity to share the love of God with your child as the only way to fill the need they are trying to fill by turning to addictive substances.
Your initial confrontation may not be enough to get your child to give up substance usage. He or she may need to hear the facts about addictive substances from someone who’s been there. Start with your local church. If they don’t have someone who can help, they can find local ministries that can. It’s best to contact a Christian organization such as Teen Challenge which can address the fundamental spiritual problem at the root of addictive substance usage and abuse. Addressing your child’s addictive substance usage is hard to do, but if you do not address it, the consequences could be tragic and deadly for both your child and your family.