Finding out that your child has a substance abuse disorder can be devastating. You may feel very isolated and uncertain of what to do – you may also be embarrassed about discussing the problem and unsure where to turn for help. It’s easy to imagine the worst, but in fact, problems like this happen to millions of Americans, and most of them escape the worst kind of fate. There are more and more treatment options available for young people in this situation. It doesn’t have to ruin your child’s life.
How addictions take root
Substance abuse problems can develop for a wide range of reasons. Many parents think first of a shadowy figure, hanging around the school gates pushing illegal substances to kids, but in fact this accounts for only a small part of the picture. Sometimes, addiction develops when painkillers are prescribed for a sports injury. Sometimes, kids with undiagnosed mental health problems seek out ways of self-medicating. And sometimes, they get hooked after consuming alcohol they find at home or after experimenting with what they find in the bathroom cabinet. What links these issues is that when they try to stop, they find they are unable to. They may experience physical pain, deep depression, nausea or panic attacks, and simply be unable to defeat this on their own.
What you can and can’t do
Addiction is not a problem you can cure simply by trying to sympathize and understand. You can’t give second chances and you can’t expect the addict to put love for you first, no matter how sincerely that love is felt. You can, however, help by being tough, and help by gradually reducing your child’s access to the substance or forcing your child to go cold turkey. This can present medical risks in some cases, so you will need to do your research first. It will also be very difficult, emotionally, for you. If you’re at all uncertain, you should seek professional help.
Does your child need rehab?
The first person to talk to about your child’s addiction is your family doctor, but you may need assistance from someone more experienced, and the best option for your child may be spending some time in an institutional environment. Specialist rehab centers, such as Newport Academy, help young people with problems like this to go through withdrawal in a supportive environment, where others are experiencing similar problems. They then focus on providing them with the skills they need to enjoy life the way other people do, and to re-engage with society.
The long-term picture
Once a child has stopped using the problem substance, the real battle begins. There will always be a temptation to return to it when life is hard, and your child will also be more vulnerable to other addictions – even non-chemical addictions, such as gambling, which can have the same sort of emotional appeal. You can help by giving them stability and by giving them love. They need to maintain confidence in their ability to cope with life without the support they found in their addiction, and you can help them to do that.