Help for families starting to deal with addiction issues
By Will Wooton
In reviewing email suggestions for article topics that I receive, I decided to go a slightly different direction this week.
My book, “Bring Your Teen Back From The Brink,” has what I feel is a good starting point for families just starting down the path of addiction. Learning how to parent a teen who is experimenting with drugs may prevent, if not completely stop, an addictive path. The following is an excerpt from the introduction.
More than just getting clean
With teens, drug abuse itself is rarely the only problem. The ultimate problem is actually the behavior and the decisions that they make while under the influence. Anger, negative attitude toward the family, poor motivation to achieve or even set goals, failing academic performance, and depression are hallmark signs that someone is abusing drugs.
As parents you may feel these behaviors are a passing phase for your child. You remember similar things that the teenage-you or your friends may have been through. You’ll say, “I made it through, so what’s the big deal if my kid is experimenting too?” You may go so far as to try to parent as if you can reason with your teen, while hoping that if you relate to them, then they’ll be safe.
Hope on your part is a wonderful thing, but not without solid action. Your teen’s friends should be made at social settings/school, not at home. Your child is not your friend and treating them like a buddy to do things with is poor parenting.
Your child is the most precious gift that you have. Along with that gift comes tremendous responsibility. Step up to the plate and tackle that responsibility head-on through discipline, reinforcement, role-modeling, and love.
I have seen families that could not handle me telling them what they needed to change in order for their child to change; some even walk out of group in the middle of a session. They may say that they just want their child to “cut down” on drinking alcohol or marijuana, and focus more on school. If that’s where you are, then I highly encourage you to get help fast.
Tear it down to build it up
Have you seen a total house remodel? It starts with a demolition that is a dirty, chaotic mess. Only one wall or room might be left standing. When you first see that stripped structure, you probably can’t imagine the beautiful new home that will be built in its place. With lots of patience and time — and, of course, a dollar investment — you’ll get something that looks like the vision you’ve had all along.
That could easily describe bringing your child back from drug and alcohol abuse as well. While the process may look hard, the result can be amazing for your family.
I invite all parents to sit down and write out a description of the kind of person you want your child to become as they grow/mature: healthy, responsible, honest, trustworthy, motivated, etc. Now look at the reality of what your child’s beliefs/actions are right now. Do they match up? If not, don’t feel like you have failed as a parent. You haven’t. But now is the time to educate yourself and take action.
Leading your teen through this process and back to a healthy, productive life is possible. I have seen hundreds of families move from total dysfunction to becoming a supportive group of individuals who grow together to help achieve recovery.
Wooton is director of Pacific Treatment Services. PTS is a substance abuse company working with teens and young adults. Website: www.PacificTreatmentServices.com.
- Will Wooton: How do you tell if your teen is on drugs?
- Wooton: Is there value to drug testing?
- Will Wooton: What if someone doesn’t want to be helped?
- Wooton:Examining local trends of substance abuse
- Wooton: Education the key to parents understanding drug use
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