It’s sad, but true that most people who develop addictions to tobacco, alcohol, or drugs have their first experiences to those substances when they are young. Parents of children who have developed addictions often struggle to understand what happened, and even more often, what should happen next. Here, we’ll provide a few possible answers to those questions.
Why Do Kids Use Harmful Substances?
The most important thing to emphasize is that it’s not the fault of their parents. Children are responsible for their own choices, and smoking, drinking, and drug use are promoted in the media as fun, sexy habits enjoyed by sophisticated adults. The effects users experience are often pleasurable, and many children have ready access to the substances that produce those effects. The role of peer pressure is also not to be ignored, drawing many curious children to seek the thrills their friends tout as fun or exciting. It’s also important to remember that teens often have a sense of invincibility, making it difficult for them to understand that addiction can be a very real consequence of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.
Could My Child Have a Drug Problem?
Drug addiction symptoms tend to progress along a certain pathway that wary parents can identify with careful listening and attention. Being alert can often do far more good than demanding answers around the dinner table. Generally, a drug addiction follows the stops along this route:
- Experimental use is the first step toward addiction. Parents might notice tobacco or alcohol on the breath or intoxicated behavior, though behavior between uses will often remain the same.
- Regular drug use begins when children and teens begin using substances alone and in greater amounts. At this point, children tend to stay out of the house for long periods of time, miss school, neglect schoolwork, lose contact with sober friends, withdraw from their families, and lie frequently. Money or valuables might also disappear at this stage.
- Early addiction symptoms include increased conflict at home, parental loss of control, and sometimes even discovery of a stash of substances at home.
- Full-scale addiction is sometimes marred by violent conflicts, trouble with the law, and negative impacts on the family.
What Do I Do If My Child Has a Drug Addiction?
The effects of drug addiction can be hard for a family to face. If you’re dealing with the difficult consequences of a child’s addictive behaviors, remember these important tips:
- Don’t deny the problem. It will only escalate if it is never addressed.
- Don’t blame yourself. Th goal is to help your child escape, not to wallow in false guilt.
- Get help from experienced drug counselors. Whether it’s regular counseling or a substance abuse rehab center, professional help can make a big difference.
- Don’t be afraid to make a decision. Sending a child to substance abuse rehab may be difficult, but don’t hesitate if you really believe that it’s the right choice.
- Don’t expect a quick fix. Substance abuse rehab, counseling, or any other solution will take a long time to show results.
- Be ready to welcome your child home. It isn’t easy to forgive someone who has hurt you, but your child will be better able to heal with your love and support.
A drug addiction is hard to fight, but with the help of a professional, you can guide your child through it. Read more about this topic at this link.