What NOT to do when you find out a loved one has a drug addiction
• Don’t attempt to punish, threaten, bribe, or preach.
• Don’t try to be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink or use drugs.
• Don’t allow yourself to cover up or make excuses for the alcoholic or drug addict or shield them from the realistic consequences of their behavior.
• Don’t take over their responsibility, leaving them with no sense of importance or dignity.
• Don’t hide or dump bottles, throw out drugs, or shelter them from situations where alcohol is present.
• Don’t argue with the person when they are impaired or high.
• Don’t try to drink along with the problem drinker or take drugs with the drug abuser.
• Above all, don’t feel guilty or responsible for another’s behavior.
What to do
• Try to remain calm, unemotional, and factually honest about their behavior and its day–to–day consequences.
• Let the person with the problem know that you are reading and learning about alcohol and drug abuse.
• Discuss the situation with someone you trust, someone from the clergy, a social worker, a counselor, a friend, or a trusted organization like us, Teen Challenge London.
• Establish and maintain a healthy atmosphere in the home, and try to include the alcohol/drug abuser in the family life.
• Explain the nature of alcoholism and drug addiction to the children in the family and that help is available.
• Encourage new interests and participate in leisure time activities that the person enjoys. Encourage them to make friends with people who do not share the same problems.
• Refuse to ride with anyone who’s been drinking heavily or using drugs.
Help for parents with kids on drugs
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.
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.
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.
Steps for parents to prevent their kids becoming addicted
Parents can take the following steps to help prevent drug dependency in their children:
Talk to your children about the risks of drug use and abuse.
Be a good listener when your children talk about peer pressure, and be supportive of their efforts to resist it.
Set a good example.
Don’t abuse alcohol or addictive drugs. Children of parents who abuse drugs are at greater risk of drug addiction.
Strengthen the bond.
Work on your relationship with your children. A strong, stable bond between you and your child will reduce your child’s risk of using or abusing drugs.
Remember: The user must want help themselves no matter how much you want them to get help. They must see they have a problem and they want help, then we can help them.