Drug Addiction Tips for Parents

As a concerned and loving parent, you want to be as strong and supportive as you can for your child. But guiding children through  treatment for drug addiction  is often not easy. On some of the worst days, you may even feel powerless against the hold that drug addiction has on your child’s life. The truth is that you can play a critical role in helping your child overcome their drug addiction and achieve active recovery. Below are eight drug addiction tips for parents.

Eight Things You Should Do if Your Child Is Suffering from Drug Addiction

If you suspect your child is abusing drugs or suffering from drug addiction, you may feel worried, anxious, and uncertain about what steps to take. While it is normal for concerned parents to experience these feelings, it is important to remember that you can play a very important role in helping your child actively recover from drug addiction. Here are ten things to do if you sense that your child is addicted to drugs.

1. Know the warning signs

The path to helping your child begins with your ability to recognize the warning signs of drug addiction in teens. Some of these signs will appear in the form of physical changes while others will take the form of behavioral changes. Here is a look at some key changes that suggest your child could be abusing drugs:

  • Stealing or excessively asking for money
  • Abandoning long-time, loyal friends 
  • Exhibiting attitude changes or mood swings
  • Acting in an irresponsible or risky manner
  • Failing to perform well in school
  • Neglecting hygiene and self-care
  • Avoiding communication or eye contact
  • Staying out late or breaking curfew
  • Paranoid or anxious behavior
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Fluctuating weight and severe weight loss
2. Quietly gather evidence

If you try to share your suspicions with your child without presenting clear evidence of their behavior, the odds are your child will staunchly refute your suspicions. The best way for you to be ready to handle your child’s denial is to have tangible evidence immediately on hand. Whether it is a hidden stash of drugs that you discover or you come across evidence on social media that your child is using drugs, be sure to gather those items to show to your child.

3. Identify triggers and influencers

There are specific places, situations, and people that are more likely than others to cause your child to use drugs. These places and situations are known as “triggers” while people who encourage drug use are often called “influencers.”

You can identify these triggers and influencers by taking note of any classmates or peers who seem to be present when your child exhibits the warning signs of drug use. For example, if your son or daughter tends to come home late with bloodshot eyes and a sullen, avoidant attitude when they visit the new teenager across the street, then your new neighbor’s house could be considered be a possible trigger and the teenage neighbor would be a potential influencer.

4. Bring the issue up with your child

As a parent, it can be tempting to stick your head in the sand and hope that your any addiction issues will disappear on their own. Unfortunately, this is the worst mistake you can make. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that drug abusers are rarely able to stop using drugs on their own, stating, “Many attempts result in failure to achieve long-term abstinence.” So it up to you as a parent to raise the issue with your child and get the ball rolling with treatment.

5. Remain calm when sharing your concerns

Whether you are discussing your initial suspicions about your child’s drug use or talking about their progress with treatment, it is always wise to remain calm. Emotional outbursts and expressions of anger can cause your child to regress and self-isolate rather than participate in treatment. Here are some tips to help you remain calm when talking to your child about drug addiction:

  • Time your conversation wisely: Do not talk to your child if you are exhausted, anxious, or not feeling well. Wait until you are fresh and grounded.
  • Resist a knee-jerk reaction: Talking to a drug user can be frustrating and anger-provoking. Try counting to five if you feel angry or frustrated.
  • Be an active listener: Instead of talking or lecturing, try asking your child questions and really listening to what they have to say.
6. Take your child to treatment

Entering a drug rehab facility can be a frightening experience for children and teens. Your physical presence and support will help your child make the transition to residential or inpatient treatment, and reaffirm your love for them. Once your child completes inpatient treatment, you can continue to support them by driving them to and from their outpatient therapy appointments and follow-up visits. While Fairwinds Treatment Center does not treat adolescents for drug addiction, we can help by referring to qualified facilities that do. 

7. Stay in touch with your child’s treatment team

When your child enters a drug treatment center, there will be a multi-disciplinary team of drug abuse specialists delivering care. Most drug rehab treatment teams consist of a psychiatrist, a registered dietitian, a drug abuse counselor, and one or more therapists. When you enroll your child in treatment, be sure to ask how you can receive updates on your child’s progress. 

8. Regularly express your unconditional love 

One of the most meaningful things you can do to support your child is to to let them know you love them no matter what. Children who feel that there are contingencies attached to their parents’ love are more likely to withdraw or give up on their treatment. On the other hand, your unconditional love and support can help give them the confidence and strength they need to succeed in treatment.

Five Things You Should NOT  Do If Your Child Has a Drug Addiction

Sometimes knowing what you shouldn’t do is even more critical than knowing what you should do. Responding in the wrong way to your child’s addiction can be counterproductive to the treatment process and can consume all of your energy. Here are five things you should NOT do if your child is suffering from a drug addiction.

1. Don’t blame yourself

If you have asked yourself the questions, “Where did I go wrong?” or, “Why didn’t I see the signs earlier?”, you are not alone. It is fairly common for parents to blame themselves when addictive disorders strike their children. It is important to recognize that no one is to blame for your child’s drug addiction. Rather than focusing on blame, try to channel your energies toward positive actions that can make a difference in your child’s treatment outcome.

2. Don’t chastise your child

Threats and punishments can lead to withdrawal and isolation in young addicts. This is the last thing you want as a parent because your child could slip back into their old habits and begin using drugs again. While you may feel frustrated or angry at the situation, try to avoid chastising your child.

3. Don’t use guilt as a weapon

Shame is among the top factors that can cause an addict to relapse. Instead of zeroing in on your child’s mistakes and failures, try inquiring about which treatment goals they are working on. This shows you care about their well-being and are genuinely interested in their progress. Most importantly, you are not setting your child up for possible guilt and failure if they are unable to progress as quickly as you had hoped.

4. Don’t react in an overly emotional way

Crying, screaming, or reacting with anger can compound stress levels for you and your child both. Do your best to maintain a calm, even-tempered demeanor, even when frustrations arise. 

5. Don’t try to force a recovery timetable on your child

Addiction is an incredibly complex disease, and every person responds differently to treatment. Some teens respond more readily to treatment than others, promoting a faster recovery time. Some teens, on the other hand, might be grappling with more than one diagnosis and require a longer course of treatment.

The Key to Helping Your Child Overcome Drug Addiction

Following these eight drug addiction tips for parents above will help you remain strong for your child before, during, and after you suspect a problem. But the single best way to help your child overcome their drug addiction is to seek treatment right away from a trusted drug addiction treatment center. With the guidance of a proven team of treatment specialists, you can greatly boost the odds that your child will achieve active recovery from their addictive disorder.

Fairwinds Treatment Center does not treat adolescent patients for substance abuse, however, if you are struggling to help your child overcome their drug addiction, we can provide guidance and support by referring to the facilities best suited for your situation. 



If you are ready to discuss treatment for yourself or a loved one, the Fairwinds admissions team is here to help.

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