Drug and alcohol addiction is one of the toughest things to watch someone struggle with. Whether it’s a spouse, friend or child, watching them repeat the same cycles of abuse is trying. In many situations, especially with children, they will think they are hiding it well and that you have no idea what’s going on. When it comes down to it, you need to have a conversation with your addicted child, that or if it’s too hard, it’s time to have a crisis intervention for your child. In this post we’ll show you how to talk to your addicted child.
This closes the door the having a dialogue with them about the topic. However, putting in the work to open that door and have a conversation with your addicted child may be exactly what they need to start the arduous road to recovery.
How to be There for an Addicted Child
It’s quite likely that your child’s drug addiction has caused you and your family some problems. You might even be angry with them. However, in order to create a productive dialogue, it’s important to put aside how the drug addiction has impacted you and focus on how it has impacted them.
French novelist Albert Camus has a quote that applies perfectly here, “Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
Keep that quote in mind as you start planning how to create a conversation with an individual with substance abuse issues. Understand that it’s not about the problems they’ve caused you – it’s about the problems they’re causing for themselves. Even if you might be angry, approaching the topic with this frame of mine will elicit a much healthier reaction in most situations. While an intervention is a more direct approach that leads to treatment, if you do not want your child to go through treatment, continue the conversation and don’t stop until it’s over.
Try to Find the Source of the Problem
It’s much easier said than done, but it’s important to try to reach the root cause of why your addicted child is using drugs to best help them. In most situations, addicts are using because they feel it helps them with a certain problem. It might be a real problem at school, with friends or even with family. It might also be a perceived problem that isn’t even there.
Your child will likely not know the problem they’re trying to solve with drug use. At some level, however, they will believe that taking their drug of choice is what’s helping them solve it.
It is part of human behavior to rationalize behaviors that we know are destructive, and this is especially true with drug addicts. At some level, your child truly believes that their usage is helping solve a problem.
Creating a Conversation with Your Child
The first step to finding the source of the problem is to create a conversation with your child. Choose a right time where they seem in a positive or neutral mood, and don’t have anywhere to be. Sit them down and let them know you’re aware they’re using.
Then, ask questions. Instead of lecturing, let the child drive the conversation. Below are a few questions that can help guide the conversation:
- What are your dreams and aspirations in life? Do you believe you can accomplish those and use drugs at the same time?
- How do you feel when you’re sober? What prompts you to start using? What are your thoughts before each usage?
- Do you believe that your usage is a problem in your life? How would you feel about help?
These questions, along with any others that are more specific to your child, puts them in control and will hopefully help them open up. It’s advisable to have a proposed treatment plan, such as counseling or rehab, if they would like help ending their drug abuse.