As you envisioned your child growing up and getting past the difficult high school years, you probably didn’t see yourself choosing a rehabilitation facility for them. Instead, you probably saw yourself helping your child choose a college or university and visiting them on the weekends. No parent believes their child will become addicted to drugs or alcohol. But, life happens.
Although many people think that drug and alcohol addiction goes along with the teen years, drug use is highest among 18-25 year olds. Many teens are introduced to drugs and alcohol in their younger years and may experiment with them, but it’s typically not until they are slightly older that the addiction develops. That’s why treatment centers tend to see an increase in patients who are past their teen years. They’ve been using drugs and alcohol for several years and now have more freedom and money to support their habit.
As a parent, however, it doesn’t matter if your child is 17 or 45. They are still your child and you want to get them help as soon as possible. If you were able to reach your loved one and convince them to go to rehab, you may be wondering what to do next. It’s important to think this way because what you do in these crucial weeks or months will significantly impact the recovery period for your loved one.
When working with our families here at The River Source, we recommend the following tips to help strengthen the family unit.
Learn About Addiction
Most families know very little about addiction. It’s a broad topic that has many components in a mental, physical and emotional sense. Your child will need a lot of support when they return home, and this support will need to continue throughout their lifetime. By learning about addiction and what true recovery entails, you can create a strong support system that is understanding and loving yet firm.
Seek Professional Help
While your child is getting professional help, so should you. Not only are you dealing with an addiction that you may know very little about, but also you’re probably feeling a lot of emotion that you’re not sure how to cope with. At The RS, we find that many parents feel responsible for their loved one’s addiction. Some harbor feelings of guilt and shame, while others are frustrated and angry with their child. Meet with a therapist to make sense of these feelings and work through them so they do not interfere with your loved one’s recovery.
Spend Time with Your Other Children
If you have other children in the home, create regular time in your schedule for them. It’s easy for parents to get so wrapped up in their child’s addiction, they ignore the needs of their other children. Address any questions or concerns they may have, and spend time individually with each one of them. Allow each child to pick an activity they love such as seeing a movie or visiting the library.
Don’t Neglect Your Marriage
Another relationship that is often compromised in families with addiction is the marriage between the two parents. Don’t neglect your marriage; you need the support from your other half more than ever right now. Set up date nights for you and your partner to reconnect. If you’re finding it difficult to get along right now, see a marriage counselor who can help you work through your struggles.
Join a Support Group
Support groups are just as important for the families of addicts as they are for recovering addicts. Find a support group in your area by visiting al-anon.org. It may be difficult to maintain other friendships right now, but you will find supportive people in family support groups that understand your unique struggles and will listen to your fears without judgement.
Be Active in Your Child’s Treatment
At The River Source, we encourage family participation. We offer family therapy where we invite the family to join either in person or over the phone. We believe that in order to reach full healing, our patients must work through their past problems, which often involve the family. Working with us, you’ll find the best ways to help your child rather than feeling against him or her.
Have a Plan
When your child returns home from treatment, things will not go back to normal. It’s very important that you create a sober, supportive environment that facilitates their re-entry into the world. You don’t want to create unnecessary stress for your child, but you also don’t want them to have too much time on their hands. Decide on rules your child will be expected to follow, ways that they can contribute to the family and expectations for work, school or other responsibilities. Be prepared to follow through with them.
The River Source works with addicts and alcoholics that are 18 years old and older. If your adult child is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, please contact us today at 1-888-687-7332.