Questions Parents of Addicts Ask: Part One
With so many young people out there who are struggling with substance abuse and addiction, of course there are thousands of parents of addicts with more questions than they know what to do with. These parents may have close to no clue what the disease of addiction means, what their children are going through, and what to expect when their child actually goes to treatment or makes an attempt at recovering from their addiction.
This is a segment of questions that are common among parents or guardians of people who struggle with addiction, and some suggested responses to these inquiries to help those who are looking for answers about their child’s addiction better understand the issue.
What are some signs of addiction?
When a child or young adult is actively abusing drugs or other substances there are many indicators as to the severity of their situation. Some of which may seem more subtle than others. Some key symptoms to look for include:
- Problems at school
- Problems with their health
- Neglected appearance
- Spending and borrowing money
- Drastic changes in behavior
These are just a few things you may notice in an individual developing a drug dependency.
Why can’t a drug addict stop using?
The defining characteristics of addiction state that an individual becomes dependent physically and mentally on whatever substance they are using. Research over the years has shown that long-term drug abuse typically results in changes in the brain that remain even long after a person stops using drugs. These changes in brain function can have many behavioral and emotional consequences, including an inability to display certain levels of control over the impulse to use drugs despite the devastating effects of the individual or their loved ones.
Many addicts do attempt to stop, but unfortunately it is usually done when it is too late and the drug has already altered the persons thinking patterns and created a physical dependence. Sometimes there are brief periods of abstinence, but these are more often than not followed by sometimes more intense periods of abuse when no direct method of treatment and plan of recovery has been implemented.
How can I help them stop?
A very important thing for any parent to remember when thinking of ways to try and save their child from their addiction is this: You can NOT change them, ONLY they can change themselves.
Of course as a parent your instinct tells you to fight for them, to protect them. But with addiction there must be a level of willingness to take the actions required to change. It is not up to you to force them to stop using drugs or alcohol. The best way to help your child is to address the issue with a treatment plan and a program of action.
What is Addiction Treatment?
Treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse is designed to help the addicted individual confront their compulsive use of substances and the behavior that accompanies the addiction. Treatment should be tailored to the individual’s specific needs, and can vary in lengths of time, methods, and settings. But typically includes inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient therapy, and should also help create an after-care program for the person once they complete treatment.
There are several treatment strategies to choose from, so be sure to look into different ways the addiction can be addressed and which you think would be most effective.
Are there Programs available for the parents of addicts?
Of course there is a great deal of concerns and situations created by a child’s addiction, and many parents want to know if there is more they can do to learn more about addiction and grow with their child in recovery.
There are programs out there specifically intended to help parents and family members of addicts and alcoholics to cope and understand the suffering of their children of loved ones. There are support groups to help develop healthy behaviors and boundaries, as well as maintain vigilance with the addict child’s progress.
Some treatment facilities even offer more intimate family events and courses to help the parents of addicts become part of the treatment and recovery process. This can create a connection to the child’s continued sobriety based on loving support from parents and family.