Drug-Addicted Kids: Truths Their Parents Must Face

It’s not at all uncommon for young people to experiment with some sort of drug or alcohol; there days, it seems like part of growing up. Fortunately, most of them don’t become dependent. If you suspect that your child has become involved with substances to the point of drug addiction, look for some solid indications before jumping to conclusions.

These could be warning signs that your daughter or son is involved with drugs:

  • drug addictionSudden changes in behaviour, appearance, or attitude towards you and/or other family members.
  • Becoming less helpful at home and more secretive.
  • Grades in school are dropping.
  • Money is missing.
  • A change in friends, or no longer brings friends home.

It’s painful for a parent to see their child become addicted to a destructive substance, but if and when such circumstances arise, there are certain truths in life that parents will need to face up to and deal with.

Drug Addiction: Prepare for Disappointment and Dishonesty

It’s natural for parents to want to see their children in the best light possible. After all, you have tried to raise them to be the best that they can be—it’s only fitting that they should be able to pursue their dreams to the fullest.

When the effects of cocaine or other highly addictive drugs begin to ruin these goals and you see drug addiction transforming your child from the best to the worst kind of person you can imagine, it’s only natural that you may have difficulty facing up to reality, denying the truth for as long as possible. Symptoms of drug addiction can include behavior that is illegal, and it can be very hard for any parent to accept that their son or daughter might go to such extremes.

We’ve all heard the warning that individuals who are using drugs will do almost anything to hide their addiction, not to mention get their next fix. There is more truth in that than you may thing: be prepared to accept that they will lie to your face in any number of situations and outright deny the seriousness of their behavior.

Can Parents be Enablers of Drug Addiction?

drug addictionParents love their kids and would go a long way to take away their pain. No matter how responsibly they were raised, however, there comes a time when their own decisions will take them down paths that aren’t always the right ones. Offering support and providing opportunities to make wiser decisions and reverse destructive habits is the best course of action. Turning a blind eye is falling into the role of enabler.

Being an enabler is not the same as admitting that you (and your spouse) cannot fix the problem alone. No matter what age, the individual experiencing drug addiction must be sufficiently motivated to face up to the seriousness of their problem and genuinely want to deal with it. It is hard for a parent to stand by feeling feel ineffective and powerless in the face of such a destructive force in the life of our own child. But ultimately, it is the addicted person who must commit to starting on the path to treatment and recovery.

As a parent, you can offer support and encouragement, but cannot make that decision on your child’s behalf—even if you are the one who has always had an active role in solving problems and keeping him or her out of harm’s way. Trying to force a person in the grip of drug addiction to break free before they are truly ready will only cause failure and further frustration.

A Few Final Tips if Your Child is Using Drugs

  • Don’t panic. Fear, guilt and even anger are understandable reactions when you are worried that your child is using drugs. Be calm when discussing your concerns with him or her, using the same measured approach you would regarding any other potentially serious issue.
  • Are you listening? Like most human communication, it should be a two-way street. Pay close attention to what your son or daughter is expressing and stay away from giving lectures. If you can, find out the type of drug being used, along with the extent and frequency.
  • Avoid confrontation. Choose an appropriate time to raise the topic of drug use. Demonstrate that you have confidence in your child. Constant criticism and finding fault will not improve anyone’s self-esteem.
  • Speak knowledgably. Get your facts straight about drugs, including how they’re used, their effects, and the legal ramifications. You will be more respected, believable and trustworthy when your information checks out.

The effects of drug addiction take their toll not only on the body and behavior of the individual user, but also on their relationships with peers and family. You may find yourself at the forefront of emotional support as your son or daughter goes through recovery. Either way, there will be changes that you should be ready to accommodate as a parent. Patience and the unconditional love that you continue to feel will go a long way. Remember, drug use can affect any family, and does not mean that you have failed as a parent.

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