No parent welcomes a child into the world thinking they might someday develop a substance misuse problem. However, the unfortunate reality is that teenagers can and do use drugs and alcohol, which can make them vulnerable to developing an addiction over time.
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to recognize the signs of substance abuse and step in to get your son help, if necessary. These lessons can help you make the right choices.
1. Consider Your Role in Your Child’s Addiction
Addiction is a complex illness, and the reasons for your child’s substance misuse do not rest solely on your shoulders. However, you should recognize the role you play in the addiction and the recovery process. For example, you may have engaged in enabling behavior, such as buying your son drugs or making excuses for his absences from school, out of a misguided attempt to help. In doing so, you provided the tools that allowed the addiction to deepen. If you analyze your behavior and realize you have been enabling the cycle of abuse, you need to learn how to disengage.
2. Your Family Dynamic Needs to Change
Addictions often stem from deep-rooted psychological and emotional issues such as anxiety, fear, depression or trauma. Substance use can provide temporary relief from the pain and stress these problems cause. Family relationships can represent a tremendous source of tension, especially in the turbulent years of adolescence. You will need to examine the dynamic between your family members and the roles everyone plays, both consciously and unconsciously, and take steps to correct friction that might be leading to your son’s emotional upheaval. Family therapy can be remarkably beneficial at helping uncover these issues.
3. You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
If you find yourself reaching your outer limit and feeling as if you can’t take the frustration and anger of living with an addicted child anymore, seek support. Organizations like Al-Anon and Families Anonymous can help you cope. Finding a healthy outlet will help you learn to be a better parent because you can direct more of your attention on offering the non-judgmental love and understanding your son needs to recover.
4. You Cannot Cure Addiction
As a parent, you have dealt with everything from skinned knees to high fevers, and have always been the one your child trusts to “kiss it and make it better.” One of the most significant challenges facing you as a parent is that you can’t cure your child’s addiction. You can certainly recommend healthier choices, provide educational resources, offer unconditional love and even pay for rehabilitation, but the hard work of getting better is entirely up to your child. There’s no overnight solution or shortcut for breaking the cycle of addiction. Acknowledging that and being 100 percent available for your son is the best thing you can do.
When You Need a Solution, Trust Spearhead Lodge
Many young adults develop substance misuse issues, but not enough seek help. If your son is abusing drugs or alcohol, you can work to persuade him to enter a qualified treatment facility. At Spearhead Lodge, we offer extended care for young men who are living with substance misuse disorders. We provide foundational life skills, along with an immersive 12-step approach that offers much-needed structure and accountability. Contact us today to learn more about our programming.