How to Deal with a Drug Addict Daughter or Son

Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: August 25, 2022

What Is a Drug Addiction?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains how drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder is a "relapsing brain disease." This occurs when someone craves a substance and struggles to not use it. Besides the aforementioned signs of drug addiction, there are other signs to look out for that an addicted person may present:

Behavioral Signs

There may be differences in your child's behavior when they are struggling with substance abuse:

  • Mood swings
  • Defensiveness or anger when asked about the drug abuse
  • Decline in social activities
  • Criminal behavior

Physical Signs:

In drug addiction, there may be physical changes that you should look out for:

  • Being tired more often
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Poor hygiene
  • A decline in memory or cognition
  • Headaches that do not go away

Causes of Drug Addiction

There is a multitude of factors that can cause drug abuse, whether it is environmental or co-occurring disorders. Here are some different reasons why your son or daughter may have a drug addiction:

  • Self-medication
  • Other mental health disorders
  • Lack of self-worth or esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of emotional support
  • Unstable relationships with family members

Along with these factors, gender can also play a massive role in your son or daughter's addiction. A drug-addicted daughter may be more likely to misuse drugs if they have had physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime.

Drug or Alcohol Treatment

Substance abuse treatment for your addicted son or daughter is crucial for recovery. Whether they visit a treatment center or attend treatment programs, there are many options for parents.

  • Support groups - A support group is a great way for your addicted child to connect and feel less alone. It is also helpful if they have another mental illness, due to this potentially contributing to their drug addiction. A support group like Al-Anon can offer 12-step programs for the child and their parents.
  • Rehab program - Rehab centers are a healthy way to recover and stop drug use by creating a physically safe environment. Rehab will detox the individual of drugs, afterward providing a mental health support network to minimize the chance of relapse.
  • Family therapy - Involving the whole family will be useful for addiction recovery as it helps understand everyone's feelings and can set healthy boundaries in a safe environment. This will also establish a safe support network, something that is vital for your child's well-being.

When choosing addiction treatment for your son or daughter's substance use disorders, it is important to support their own decisions in what treatment program they would feel meets their individual needs.

Seven Do's and Don'ts For Helping Someone With a Substance Abuse Disorder

DO Set Boundaries

Whilst looking after your child is important, self-care is also something that needs to be practiced for addiction recovery to be effective. Boundaries do not mean tough love like saying "I did not raise you to be like this." Instead, do things that are stopping the greater risk of drug abuse. You may set boundaries like:

  • Buying them gift cards as opposed to giving them cash
  • Stopping them from spending time with other children who are abusing drugs.
  • Testing them regularly for drugs

DON'T Let You or Your Family Members Go Through It Alone

Practicing self-care is like giving yourself an oxygen mask; it can significantly impact your life and family if you do not care for your own life. Many parents forget themselves when dealing with a drug addict son or daughter.

Treatment options for yourself could include getting your own therapist, attending support groups, or 12-step programs like Al-Anon. This may also help you to meet other parents going through similar things.

Even family members who are not directly living with the child of addiction can still have affected mental health, so therefore, attending family therapy to establish a healthy support system is essential.

DO Approach Them In a Compassionate Way

It can be difficult to see an addicted daughter or son and sometimes it can make you feel angry. Confrontation and judgment will only push your child away more (something that may feed the addiction more).

When approaching your child about it, try to understand they are hurting and that is why they are doing this, so empathy is going to go further than anything that may make them feel guilty. Positive reinforcement is necessary when you see them do things to help overcome their drug use.

DON'T Ignore It If It Is An Adult Child's Addiction

Even if they are an adult child, that does not mean you should not help them with addiction treatment. Whether they are a young adult or fully grown, addiction treatment could potentially save their life. Getting your adult daughter or son to accept drug treatment may be even more necessary if they themselves have children as you want to avoid any destruction of family relationships.

DO Understand The Disease

It can be hard to know how to deal with a drug addict daughter or son; however, addiction is a mental health disorder that can be helped with many treatment programs.

Along with recognizing the treatment options, drug and alcohol abuse can have very serious long term consequences such as:

  • Mental illness
  • Homelessness
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Ageing prematurely
  • Job loss
  • Dental issues

DON'T Blame Yourself

You may feel that it is your fault for your child's addiction to drugs, but feelings of guilt and shame will not help you deal with the situation from a healthy place. If you are struggling mentally, then it will be very hard to support your child going through addiction.

Substance use disorders can occur for many reasons, not always from traumatic experiences. Those who have faced trauma may not always develop an addiction. Self-care and providing therapy for yourself can help with these feelings if you're struggling to overcome them.

DO Stage An Intervention

Professional interventionists may be able to intervene if your child is struggling to accept their addiction or refusing to get treatment. Come together with your child's support system to agree that treatment is the best option.

An intervention is a meeting staged by family and friends to help their loved one try and get help for an addiction. It works by creating a methodological way of getting the person to arrive without awareness of the intervention as this may deter them from coming. A professional interventionist is useful to create a neutral party to avoid anything getting out of hand. Each family member will usually begin with stating positive things about the addict, then explain how their addiction is affecting them and give them an ultimatum to receive treatment.

If the individual refuses treatment, family members and friends will explain how this will cause a change in the relationship whether that is a divorce if it is a spouse, or telling them to move out if it is family members. If they do end up saying yes to treatment, you need to have a plan for where they will go, you don't want to have nowhere for them to go if they do agree.

When the intervention occurs, make sure to not invoke any feelings of blame or judgment as this is only going to push your son or daughter away.

Receive The Best Support For Your Child

Watching your child have an addiction to drugs is very traumatic but with individualized treatment programs here at NP Addiction Clinic, we can get you and your family back on track. Call us today at (772) 281-5242 to find out more information on how to deal with a drug-addicted daughter or son.

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