As a parent, talking to your child about the dangers of drugs can be an uneasy conversation to have. It is a necessary talk that many parents do have with their children. Schools have programs such as DARE which help to teach children the importance of staying away from experimenting with drugs and instead of just saying no to drugs, using role-playing to teach lessons.
There are plenty of how-to’s on the Internet for having the drug conversation with your children. What do you do when you have to tell your child that their older sibling, perhaps a young adult sibling, has a problem with drugs?
This situation happens in many families. The older brother or sister that your child used to look up to has now turned into someone they do not recognize. They have become untrustworthy and perhaps have broken promises to your child. Their behavior because of their drug use has caused turmoil in the family and as a parent you are doing your best to deal with your adult child’s addiction.
Children are aware of more than we often give them credit for. Making believe that they do not see the changes in their older sibling is being in denial of the situation. This is a conversation that needs to be had and it can be very difficult.
The best thing that a parent or parents can do when they find their family in turmoil due to an adult or teenage child’s drug addiction is to be as honest as possible. Drug addiction is a disease. It is normal for family members to react in various ways to the addiction.
A drug addict can overcome their addiction but it also can be a long, challenging road to recovery. Family support can help but sometimes tough love may be involved in order to get the addict to face their addiction.
A parent will worry about the influence that their addict child has on their younger child. This is normal. A parent can use this situation to further emphasize how drugs can destroy a life. The child is smart enough to see how their older sibling’s personality has changed due to the drug abuse. Talking about this with your child and letting them know that their sibling is not a bad person but someone who has a sickness can help them to feel compassion towards the addict.
If your addicted child goes into rehab, be a part of the recovery process by attending family therapy. This can help the entire family air their fears and concerns. It is important to support your addicted child as long as they are making the attempt to help themselves.
When the addict is in denial over their addiction and is creating chaos in the family, in order to protect your younger child sometimes it may be necessary to cut off ties with your addicted child by banning them from your home. If they are an adult, this is easier to do than if they are a teenager.
A parent has more control over their teen and can put them into a rehab facility and hope that the teen sees that they have a problem.
No one can force an addict to get clean and this is a huge problem that many families face. You cannot ignore the behavior but you also cannot force someone to give up drugs. It takes self-reflection and admission that the drugs are controlling your life in order to decide to come clean.
With an adult child, sometimes a family intervention can help the addict to see that their drug use is affecting the entire family and it also shows them that their family cares. An intervention is a time where an ultimatum is given to the addict. It is not healthy for a family unit to have an addict creating an atmosphere that makes others feel uncomfortable or in danger.
Having a child who is a drug addict is very stressful for the parents. When you have other children, you need to be aware of their feelings and fears about the situation. You need to give them the extra attention that they need and watch out for negative behavior that might be a result of their fears. Talk to your child and listen to them. Get them individual counseling in order for them to have a place where they can talk freely about their feelings.
Families can make it through drug addiction. It isn’t always pretty and there often can be a lot of tears and anger. Getting professional advice for how to deal with the addict as well as what to say to your younger child can help to repair the damage that drug abuse can inflict on a family.
Drug addiction can be overcome. Rely on your faith, good friends and each other for support. As a parent you are probably going to have to make some difficult choices but this is necessary in order to help your addicted child and your other children get back to normal.