How-to Guide: How to Help a Child Who's an Addict

Advice for Parents of Addicts

Anyone of any age can develop a substance use disorder. Many people think that substance abuse is only an issue amongst adults. Little do they know that children often suffer from substance use disorders as well. Teens in particular, often abuse substances. When children and teens develop substance use disorders, it becomes an issue not only for them but for their parents as well. 

Oftentimes, a parent of an addict will even blame him or herself for a child’s substance use issues. Living in shame does nothing to help children and teens overcome their substance use issues though. That’s why we here at Grace Land Recovery are giving advice to parents of addicts in this how-to guide. 

Statistics on Teen Substance Abuse

While many teens today struggle with substance abuse, parents can be relieved that substance abuse rates amongst teens have decreased. In fact, according to the 2018 Monitoring the Future survey, the rates of alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, methamphetamine, and sedative use have decreased amongst children and teens. Even the rates of party drugs such as ecstasy, inhalants, and hallucinogens have decreased amongst children and teens. 

Children and teens accept marijuana use more than before now that marijuana is legal in some form or another in many U.S. states. Still, fewer teens abuse marijuana. Instead, many teens use marijuana recreationally and for medical purposes. 

Teens today now also view synthetic and natural marijuana to be safe to use though. Even opioid use rates have technically decreased amongst middle school and high school students. This is despite the fact that opioid use rates have grossly increased amongst adults. 

Fewer teens abuse alcohol now. Still, a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) study states that in 2015 as many as 7.7 million Americans between the ages of 12-20 reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. Furthermore, studies show that teens between the ages of 12-20 drink more than 11% of the United States’s consumed alcohol. Furthermore, 90% of this alcohol was consumed by binge drinking. 

Binge drinking is a highly dangerous practice for teens to take part in. This is because binge drinking sometimes leads to alcohol poisoning, car accidents, physical altercations, falls, burns, drowning, unprotected sex, sexual assault, STDs, and even self-harm or suicide. Because of the horrid effects of abusing alcohol and drugs, parents should make sure that they know what to do if their children develop substance use disorders. 

Why Parents Should Intervene If Their Children Are Abusing Substances

There are a number of reasons why parents of an addict should intervene if their children start abusing substances. For one, chronic substance abuse can lead to adverse health effects such as the ones that we just mentioned. Second, chronic substance abuse can cause serious brain damage. 

Experiencing brain damage due to substance use is already horrible enough as an adult, but as an underdeveloped person, it can be even worse. This is because the brains of children and teens are underdeveloped. Thus, the negative changes that substance abuse can cause to the brains of children and teens can easily become permanent. In fact, abusing substances while one is underaged can cause a person to develop difficulty retaining information, exhibiting cognitive abilities, exhibiting abstract reasoning, and making decisions. 

Chronic substance abuse during adolescence can also lead to memory issues, shortened attention span, poor judgment, and poor academic performance. Furthermore, adolescents that chronically abuse substances have an increased chance of developing mental health disorders. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) even states that approximately 50% of younger individuals that abuse substances also suffer from mental health disorders. The most common mental illnesses that adolescents who suffer from substance use issues also suffer from include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. 

Advice for Parents of Addicts

To prevent their children from developing long-term health issues or mental health disorders, parents of addicts are often eager to find ways to get their children to stop using alcohol and/or drugs. To help such parents, we here at the dual diagnosis treatment center of Grace Land Recovery are willing to give them a bit of advice. Below are some key points of advice that we here at Grace Land Recovery suggest that all parents of addicts listen to. 

1. Educate Yourself on Addiction

The first piece of advice for parents of addicts is to educate yourself on addiction. Education on addiction is vital for anyone that wants to successfully intervene on another person’s substance use issues. For one, there are many misconceptions about addiction. Thus, if parents don’t educate themselves about addiction, they may trigger their children rather than successfully staging an intervention for them. 

Education on addiction is also important for parents that want to successfully stage an intervention for their children because it will give them insight into what their children are really going through. Education on addiction can also prepare parents of addicts for what to expect once they start intervening in their addicted children’s lives. 

Ultimately, education is power. Thus, if parents of addicts want to empower themselves and heighten the chance that their addiction interventions will work, they should first educate themselves on addiction. 

2. Don’t Act as Enablers

Oftentimes, family and friends enable their loved ones with substance addictions. As a result, individuals with substance addictions are able to easily continue exhibiting their harmful substance use habits. 

One piece of advice for parents of addicts is to make sure that all your words and actions towards your children contribute to them living healthier, substance-free lifestyles. This means not covering up for the issues that your children bring upon themselves due to their reckless substance use habits. This also means not paying for your children’s bills if they’ve spent all their money on drugs. 

While doing these things may seem supportive, they will only make it easier for your children to continue abusing substances. Remember, there is a difference between supporting and enabling. 

3. Establish Trust

It’s important for parents to not enable their children with substance addictions. It’s also important to build a sense of trust between one’s children with substance addictions. One piece of advice for parents of addicts is to establish trust with their children with substance addictions. To further establish trust, parents of addicted children should also remain calm, open to conversation, and forgiving. 

4. Encourage Treatment

The ultimate goal for parents of addicts should be to get their addicted children to attend rehab. Thus, all parents of addicts should encourage their children to receive treatment. 

Parents should also encourage their addicted children to be better in general. A great way to do this is to better maintain a positive attitude and remind the children of their positive attributes. 

To further encourage treatment during an intervention, parents should do their research and find some addiction treatment centers nearby that their children can attend. That way, parents can suggest treatment centers to their children during interventions. 

5. Don’t Neglect Yourself 

One piece of advice for parents of addicts is to not neglect yourself. Oftentimes, parents make their children’s problems their problems. This happens so much that parents often stop to take care of themselves. 

While focusing all of your time and energy on your children may seem like a good idea at first, doing so will only hurt your children in the long run. This is because no one can give themselves to others if that person has nothing left to give. 

Helping a person recover from a substance use issue is similar to helping another person put his or her oxygen mask on while on a plane. It’s best to put your own mask on first, before helping another person put theirs on. Remember this and always make sure to set some time out to practice some self-care in between helping your addicted child overcome his or her substance use disorder. Doing so will only give you the energy that you need to maximize your efforts. 

6. Remember the Three Cs

The three Cs are three factual statements that all parents of addicted children should know and remind themselves of. The first of the three Cs is that you as the parent did not cause your child’s addiction. Thus, do not blame yourself. Parents can’t control every action or interaction that their children have. 

The second of the three Cs is that parents cannot control their children’s behaviors. All parents of addicted children can do is try to help their children realize that they need help. This is because the only way that addiction treatment will work is if the person receiving it desires to get better. 

The third of the three Cs is that although parents can’t force change on their addicted children, the parents themselves can change. Thus, parents of addicted children can make changes to their lifestyles and habits. These changes will allow parents to better support their children. They will also allow parents to better convince their children to attend rehab. 

Addiction Treatment for Children

With enough proper support and guidance from their parents, addicted children can attend rehab and successfully achieve recovery. Addiction treatment for children functions similarly to addiction treatment for adults. This is because both give patients addiction therapies that will help them figure out what their addiction triggers are and how to cope with them as sober individuals. 

Also, similar to rehab for adults, rehab for children can come in the form of inpatient rehab programs and outpatient rehab programs. Inpatient rehab programs require their patients to live in rehab facilities 24/7 while receiving care. 

Outpatient rehab programs don’t require their patients to live in rehab facilities while receiving care. Thus, outpatient treatment patients can live in the comfort of their own homes and tend to their normal life responsibilities in between treatment sessions. The main difference between rehab for adults and rehab for children is that the addiction treatment programs in each use therapeutic tactics that target the minds of the particular age group of the participants. 

Receive Addiction Treatment for Children and Adolescents at Grace Land Recovery

Grace Land Recovery is a dual diagnosis treatment center. Thus, Grace Land treats the addictions and mental health disorders of adults and adolescents. This also means that children of addicted parents can attend rehab at our facility. 

The fact that Grace Land Recovery is a dual diagnosis treatment center is ideal for adolescents with substance use disorders. This is because adolescents often suffer from both substance addictions and mental health disorders. Thus, adolescents with co-occurring substance addictions and mental illnesses can simultaneously and effectively treat both of their disorders at our rehab facility. 

One piece of advice for parents of addicts that we here at Grace Land Recovery want to give is to suggest quality rehab facilities to their children. That way, as soon as children are ready to receive help for their substance use disorders, they can do so at rehab facilities that will help them not only achieve recovery but sustain it also. 

To learn more about Grace Land Recovery and our various other addiction treatment programs, therapies, and services contact us today. We would love nothing more than to help relieve stress from parents with addicted children by helping their children achieve and maintain recovery. 

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