Addiction is a devastating disease that affects entire families. Being the parent of a child struggling with addiction can be incredibly stressful. Knowing how to open a dialogue about such a sensitive subject with one’s child is difficult, especially as one balances their desire to support their child with setting effective boundaries. However, there are always ways to connect with one’s child as a unified, supportive familial unit.
Addiction is difficult to confront, and it is common to try to ignore or minimize the problem for various reasons. However, regardless of a child’s age, if they are in school, college, or even working on or living on their own, acknowledging a child’s use of addictive substances is a necessary part of the recovery process. It can be impossible to pursue effective treatment and change if one is not wholly committed to confronting the trials of addiction.
Before attempting to open a dialogue about addiction and recovery with one’s child, it is crucial to take time and emotionally ready oneself for the difficult conversation ahead.
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Before discussing a child’s use of addictive substances, one should be prepared to hear some difficult truths. One must be emotionally prepared to not only discuss these vulnerable topics but also be receptive to new truths while maintaining a dedicated and calm demeanor. Practicing breathing techniques and rehearsing or writing down how one wants to approach the topic are useful ways to prepare for such a difficult discussion.
Using Evidence to Open Discussions
A child’s use of drugs or alcohol can be a strained time for all involved, with emotions running high. Those struggling with addiction will often try to divert the conversation away from the topic. Others may feel attacked when questions about their use arise. Both situations can create an antagonistic atmosphere. Rather than opening discussions in this heavy emotional light, utilizing specific evidence in one’s conversation is much more impactful.
Those struggling with addiction may genuinely not be aware of how much they are using, how much money is being spent, or how others are being impacted by their use. Conversations with one’s children about addiction can be delicate. Instead of approaching a conversation as a confrontation between a parent and child, structuring these conversations where a child confronts the effects and evidence of their use is a more transformative realization.
Using factual evidence such as bottles found in the garbage, drugs hidden in some place, or examples of when a child didn’t adhere to responsibilities can be effective in avoiding an accusatory tone. Focusing one’s conversations on evidence can ensure that these conversations maintain their supportive intentions while making it difficult to deny or divert attention away from one’s use.
Let Children Speak
It can be tempting to jump into these conversations and explain how the teen’s use is affecting others. However, asking questions about their use means that one has to allow children to answer uninterrupted, even if one may not agree with their answers. Asking children why they feel they have to engage with drugs or alcohol, where they acquire it, how they feel about pursuing treatment, and other open-ended questions can reveal important information if children are allowed to express their side in a fair manner.
Embracing the idea of treatment can take time. However, forcing a child to pursue treatment can lead to resistance and reluctance that can compromise the efficacy of these transformative programs. Rather than forcing a child into treatment, prompting a child to pursue the route themselves can break through some of these barriers. Having information about a particular treatment or detox facility already accessible to look over—either through bookmarked websites or printed-off pamphlets—can create options for a child without one making the critical decision for them. Allowing one’s child to choose their own best path forward can be the catalyst for finding effective treatment while maintaining a supportive position.
There still need to be boundaries and consequences for one’s child while combatting addiction. While it is important to avoid forcing a child through recovery, there must still be consequences regarding the continued use of addictive substances. Asking oneself questions like, “Am I willing to lie for my child?” can illuminate how much help one is able to provide when determining how to best support one’s child.
Setting consequences also means reaching a clear understanding. Having clear ramifications if the use of drugs or alcohol continues to impact an individual is necessary. Being prepared to enforce the cessation of financial support or freedoms in accordance with these agreements is absolutely crucial.
Having a child struggling with addiction is a difficult situation; we at Hawaii Island Recovery understand how difficult it can be to balance their need for change and your own mental and emotional well-being. Nothing about addiction recovery is easy, but our effective and customizable substance abuse treatment in Hawaii is available for you today. We champion taking a unified approach, helping to address the use of addictive substances while instilling effective family therapy programs and strategies to continue healing both inside and outside of our walls. From our dedicated individual and group therapy to inpatient alcohol treatment, cocaine and opioid addiction treatment, cultural exposures, and the beautiful, natural energies of the Hawaiian islands, we embrace a fully transformative approach to recovery, addressing your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs throughout the process. For more information on our Hawaii drug and alcohol treatment centers and opportunities, call (866) 390-5070.