Are you a parent who is struggling because you’ve just discovered your teen or young adult is using drugs or abusing alcohol?
To this day, I have a clear vision of finding crystal meth in my daughter’s backpack. With that discovery came the knowledge that I had no clue at the time about what to do next.
Our journey to recovery as a family has been one of the most painful experiences of my life. It has changed my outlook forever. The experience shed much-needed light on my earlier judgments of other people’s parenting choices as well as my own decisions.
With that said, I would like to share these common mistakes for those of you who are in the midst of coping with your child’s drug or alcohol use.
Here is my list of things that many parents, including myself, have tried–to no avail. Sometimes you might get lucky and things work out, but usually, the problem stays the same or gets worse.
Tips on what to avoid as a parent:
- Feeling that your child’s drug use is a teen rite of passage that they will grow out of.
- Being too busy to know your child’s friends and be involved in their life.
- Not attending any support meetings because you might meet someone you know there.
- Having prescription drugs around the house where they can easily be found.
- Losing confidence in yourself as a parent because your child joined the millions of others experimenting or using drugs.
- Spending all your time worrying about your child with the drug problem and ignoring the rest of the kids are who are trying to make good choices.
- Continuing to give your child money, even if it may be spent on drugs.
- Forgetting that you need to set a good example.
- Living in denial for days, months, or even years.
- Continuing to worry constantly about things you can’t control and making yourself miserable.
- Not exploring all options before deciding what kind of support will help the most.
- Isolating yourself because of the shame.
- Not getting help for yourself because you think the only person with a problem is your child.
- Not actively listening to your child.
- Allowing the drug use to upset every aspect of your life.
- Having your child return to the same environment after only 30 days of treatment.
- Setting boundaries, but not following through.
- Allowing your child to drive the car, even if you suspect drug use.
- Sending your child off to college with the hope they will get a fresh start when they are still struggling with substance use.
- Covering up for your child.
- Assuming you can discipline your way of your child’s substance use.
- Feeling guilty for something you didn’t cause.
- Thinking money alone will somehow solve the problem.
- Allowing the stress of the situation to come between you and your spouse.
- Having the “boys will be boys” attitude.
- Neglecting your own self-care.
- Thinking 30 days of treatment is enough.
- Forgetting to praise or reward your child for what they do well.
- Consciously or subconsciously supporting your child’s continued drug use.
- Not allowing your child to take responsibility for the consequences of their use.
- Allowing underage drinking in your home.
- Not taking the time to investigate research-based approaches.
- Lecturing, yelling, or nagging.
- Forgetting to say “I love you.”
- Not acknowledging your child’s recovery progress.
- Waiting too long to get outside help, because you think you can handle it.
- Making excuses for your child’s drug use.
- Not realizing drug use is a family problem.
- Blaming yourself.
- Funneling your child into the one size fits all approach.
- Not realizing that addiction can be a fatal disease.
- Neglecting to fully understand why your child is using drugs.
- Thinking, “not my kid.”
- Believing there is nothing you can do to help.
- Having a confrontation, rather than a conversation.
- Not continuing to check for signs of drug use.
- Neglecting to notice your child’s change of personal habits.
- Losing hope.
- Not being there for your child when they are ready to seek recovery.
- Hoping the drug use will just go away on its own.
Please add to this list in comments and share with families who are struggling. Thank you!
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