What Can You Do When Your Child is an Addict?
A tough situation many parents must face
It can be difficult for anyone to realize that they need help for addiction and to take that important step of beginning a drug or alcohol treatment program. When you discover that you’re child is also battling addiction, there is an additional challenge to face. You have a responsibility to let yourself heal, but it is also important that your child gets the help they need as soon as possible.
How Children Become Addicts
Children become addicts in one of two ways. They may have been born addicted to a substance that their mother was using during pregnancy, or they may have discovered drugs in some other way and made the decision to use them. Babies that are born addicted to opiates suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and they actually experience withdrawal symptoms after they are born. They require various levels of treatment, depending on their health and level of addiction. Drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, and marijuana also cause health problems in infants that continue as they get older.
Prescription drugs are also a common place that older kids start their drug use, largely because the drugs are easily accessible in the bathroom medicine cabinet. If someone in the child’s household repeatedly talks their physician into prescribing more pills due to their own addiction, it can be even easier to get these drugs. When they can’t get them, many turn to heroin due to its similar effect. This is most likely to start when a child is in early to middle adolescence. Use of alcohol and marijuana often begin at this age too, leading to addiction in children.
Separating Your Addiction From Your Child’s
As a mother, it is hard not to take on the responsibility of your child’s addiction. If you were, in fact, their supplier it is one of the things you will need to own up to in your own recovery, but it is important that you don’t dwell on this and let it derail your own recovery. It is more important than ever that you put the time and energy you need into your own healing, so that you can be stronger for yourself and your child.
Help for Addiction
If your child is under 18, urge whoever is caring for him or her to get them the treatment they need as soon as possible, whether they want the help or not. Infancy and adolescence are the times in a child’s life when their brain development is most vulnerable. Addiction is a chronic illness of the brain, so it is especially important for kids to get help for addiction as soon as possible. If there is one benefit to discovering that a young teen is abusing drugs and/or alcohol is that the parents still have the power to pull rank and get them into treatment. If the child crosses into adulthood, you no longer have that say. If the child is in a comprehensive addiction treatment program that looks into the issues that fuel the child’s drug use and that continues to offer ongoing outpatient treatment, they will have a better chance of resisting relapse.
A Shared, But Separate Recovery
If you and your child both suffer from addiction, going through a comprehensive and individualized addiction program, like the one at Brentwood House for women can be a benefit to your entire family. Family involvement is a major component of Brentwood’s treatment, as well as medically monitored detoxification, help for coexisting mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, as well as teaching nutritional habits and stress management techniques that have been proven to reduce the chance of relapse.
By staying strong in your own recovery, you can be a source of inspiration for your child. It can be helpful to both of you to know that someone else is experiencing the challenges of sobriety as well, and that you are not alone. It is also important to keep in mind that relapse is something that can happen in chronic illnesses such as addiction. If your child relapses, it is important to get them further treatment as soon as possible, and turn to your own counselors and support network to help you cope so that you can maintain your own sobriety.
Parents naturally want their child to do well and succeed in life. It doesn’t matter if their son or daughter is a few weeks old or if they’re in their 50s. They are still your child, and it is very tempting to give them what they need to make sure they are okay. An adult child with addiction may ask for money for rent or groceries because they have spent the money they have budgeted for these things on drugs or alcohol. They might steal from you. They may ask you to cover for them if they are sick, or even try to move in. Helping a child out of a jam, no matter how old they are, is a tough instinct to fight. But this isn’t helping. It’s enabling. It gives them a way around their addiction and allows them to delay getting the help they need. If you are in a position to help financially, help them pay for good treatment program so they can resume their own recovery.