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Do’s and Don’ts for Parents of Young Addicts

It can be heartbreaking to see a loved one struggle with addiction, especially when that person is your child. Even when your son is old enough to make decisions on his own, you still want to be there to provide advice and guidance, just as you’ve done his entire life. You might feel helpless to confront your son about his substance misuse – after all, you don’t want him to react with anger or hostility. But you still have a parent’s instinct to protect your child from danger. How can you steer the conversation in a positive direction and convince him to seek the treatment he needs to pursue recovery? Here are some techniques to try, along with those you’re better off avoiding.

1. Don’t Expect the Problem to Go Away by Itself

Addiction can be a touchy topic to bring up. It’s probable that your son is in some level of denial about how his substance use is affecting his life. However, if you try to ignore the problem or pretend as if nothing is wrong, it will only reinforce your son’s idea that he can continue with his pattern of drinking or drug use with no ill effects on his health, relationships or responsibilities.

2. Do Set Healthy Boundaries

You need to be honest with your son and yourself about how the disease of addiction is affecting you. Having an addicted loved one can take a tremendous emotional toll. You may be suffering from symptoms of chronic stress, such as high blood pressure or disrupted sleep patterns. It’s essential for you to protect yourself by setting and sticking with appropriate boundaries.

3. Do Understand Addiction Isn’t a Choice

Though your son made the initial decision to experiment with substance use, nobody begins drinking or using drugs with the objective of becoming an addict. You must respect the fact that substance use changes brain chemistry and may have left your son with little choice or control over his behavior. When you broach the topic of seeking treatment with your son, you should be mindful that he probably already feels intense guilt and shame about how he has been acting. Statements like “I didn’t raise you to be like this” are not constructive, and could cause your son to become withdrawn or defensive.

4. Don’t Provide Financial Support

Addiction can be a costly habit to maintain. If your son asks you to lend him money or to help pay his rent or some of his bills, you should resist participating in this form of enabling. It’s likely he is using the money he would otherwise have spent on his living expenses on drugs or alcohol. If he knows he always has you as a financial safety net, he will have less of an incentive to seek recovery.

5. Do Offer to Help Him Find Treatment

The idea of seeking help for an addiction can feel overwhelming. One way you can communicate your unconditional love and support for your son is to offer to help him research various treatment programs and options that can get him started on the road to recovery. For example, many people find a single-gender environment is conducive to addiction rehab because it provides fewer distractions.

6. Don’t Neglect Your Needs

It can be easy to get so caught up in your son’s struggle that you overlook self-care. As time goes on, your worries can wear you down. Set aside time in each day to do something nice for yourself that helps you relax and regain a sense of emotional equilibrium.

Helping Your Son Heal

Seeing the bright young man you raised on the verge of losing it all to addiction can be a heavy burden. At Spearhead Lodge, we can help. Contact us to learn more about our young men’s addiction treatment center in Austin.