What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Is An Addict
If you’re a mom who suspects a family member is addicted to drugs, you may be wondering what to do. There are many treatment plans available for all age groups, and the earlier you can get them into a program the better. Some of these include combatting addtiction with a combination of counseling and pharmaceuticals. But dosing too early can cause severe withdrawals so you need to get the right treatment plan, customized to each individual. But how do you know for sure?
How do you know if you’re overreacting to minor issues, blowing things out of proportion?
The first thing to notice is if your child is having problems. Perhaps, they are similar problems their peers face. Alternatively, they may be more severe and disruptive.
If they are preteens, they could be having problems with self-esteem and taking care of themselves.
If they are adolescents, they could be having problems with staying healthy, making friends, or getting along with people.
If they are young adults, they could be having family and work issues, struggling financially, or in trouble with the law.
If you notice your child is having more problems than before, it’s reasonable to guess that substance abuse may be the cause.
One strong reason for suspicion is if they appear untroubled by the behaviors that are causing the problems. In this case, their addiction may be stronger than the desire to stop the problems it’s causing.
The best way to approach the issue, in this case, is to talk about the problem directly, without linking it to what you suspect may be the cause. See if they are willing to discuss the problem? If they deny having an obvious problem, then this is a strong indication that there is a deeper reason for it.
4 Intervention Steps
If you’ve come to the conclusion that there is a strong underlying reason for their problems, then it may be time to take some action. Here are 4 things you can do.
1. Confirm your suspicions.
Educate yourself about substance abuse symptoms. There is more than enough information available online to come up with a profile of the underlying disorder.
While there are variations on how people react to different forms of substance abuse, there are a lot of commonalities among users taking the same drugs.
2. Observe the person over a few days or weeks.
How closely does their behavior match up to your hypothetical profile? This information is important for four reasons.
First, you will be able to clarify whether or not their erratic behavior is due to drugs or some form of psychological issue.
Second, you will be able to convince other family members to help you if you can prove your case.
Third, you will have more than enough information to share with a substance abuse counselor to help them come to a clear understanding of the issue.
Fourth, you will be armed with more than enough information to convince the person you are trying to help that they really do need the help.
3. Enlist the help of other family members.
You don’t need to create an exhaustive profile before you share your information with other family members. If you are a single mother, you may have to enroll aunts, uncles, or cousins.
Tell them what you suspect and why you suspect it. They, too, may want to deny that there is a problem, but it will be harder to dismiss your suspicions if you have strong reasons for them.
If you can get other family members to help you, then also come to an agreement about who is the best person to talk to the person about the need to get some help. As a mother, you may be the least influential and your child may be more open to listening to a trusted aunt or first cousin.
However, before an intervention, get some professional advice on how to go about the process.
4. Speak to a mental health professional.
There are many mental health professionals who have worked with hundreds of substance abuse cases and can provide you with invaluable advice on how to conduct a successful intervention. Seek out the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist, a school psychologist, a college guidance counselor, a family doctor, or a clergy member.
When you speak to them, they may want to know certain things about your family.
a. The reasons you think your child has a substance abuse problem.
This will help them decide whether or not this is a psychological problem or one due to substance abuse.
b. The results of any substance abuse behavior you may have noticed.
- · What type of alcohol do they drink?
- · What type of drug have you seen in the house?
- · How much do you think the person is using?
- · How long has this been going on?
c. Any changes in behavior?
- · What was their behavior like before they began using?
- · Has it been getting worse or staying fairly consistent?
- · What was your child’s response to questions or confrontations about their behavior?
Although confronting your child’s substance abuse is emotionally painful and may increase already difficult behavior, you should take action using these steps as a guideline. It’s not an issue about whether your child appreciates your intervention, but about getting them to a safe harbor where they will get the help they need.