If your son is struggling with substance abuse, it can be one of the most difficult situations you face as a parent. Regardless of the age of your child, you can take steps to help your son get the treatment they need to recover. If they are not under 18 and you do not have the ability to legally make them enter into a treatment program, there are ways you can help encourage them to initiate contact with a facility and provide them with the resources to make an educated decision regarding their future.
While helping your son reach the conclusion on his own that he needs help is more ideal, you may not be in a situation where your child is able to recognize the risks of continued use. This is where interventions and interventionists can be of great assistance. Young adults are especially susceptible to long-term damage because the brain and other vital processes are still developing. Damage during this developmental period can be profoundly more impactful than it would be later in life, making it imperative to intervene as soon as possible. The longer you wait to seek help, the more opportunities for drugs and alcohol to cause irreversible damage.
Is your Son Addicted? Signs Your Son May Be Abusing Alcohol or Drugs
Symptoms of drug addiction, mental illness, and growing pains associated with adolescence can all overlap to create a confusing message. Some behaviors your child exhibits may be associated with substance abuse, while others may be behaviors typically associated with being a young adult. Observing several symptoms together, however, can more clearly indicate a substance abuse problem is developing. Some signs and symptoms to be aware of include:
- Secretive or withdrawn behavior
- Severe mood swings
- Inability to focus
- Loss of interest in hobbies or extracurricular activities
- Bloodshot eyes
- Unexplained weight changes
- Changes in social circles
- Changes in health (feeling sick more often)
- Changes in grooming habits or hygiene
Interventions for Substance Abuse
If your son is not legally an adult, you are able to put him in treatment without his consent; however, allowing your child to be a part of the decision-making process helps strengthen your relationship and improve his receptiveness to rehab. An intervention is an effective way to start the conversation and allow your child to make the decision for himself. Interventions are usually followed by the person immediately leaving to enter treatment, making it important to prepare ahead of time. Having a rehab facility selected and ready for intake is imperative to making the transition into recovery successful.
Interventions can be incredibly emotional and stressful. To help maintain structure and ensure the process is not derailed, an interventionist can be hired to help facilitate the process. Using an interventionist can help you prepare multiple aspects of the intervention including:
- Who is part of the intervention
- What order people speak in
- Help direct conversation
- Defuse emotionally charged situations/conversations
- Facilitate transportation to a facility following the intervention
What to Do If Your Child is Struggling with Addiction
No matter where you are in this process, there are steps you can take to help your child. By creating a stable environment where expectations and boundaries are clearly laid out, you can help set the foundation for what treatment may look like.
- Improve your relationship: Although addiction is known to put strain on relationships and cause immense damage, you can still strengthen your relationship through active communication. Being open and assertive in conversations can help you detect issues early on. You can also use the practice of asking open-ended questions and active listening to have positive conversations. Avoid using judgmental language and provide your child with space to discuss concerns, struggles, and other challenges openly. Avoiding problems and tough conversations will not help the situation.
- Encourage positive behaviors: It can be easy to focus on the negative outcomes of substance abuse, making it important to highlight and recognize positives. Focusing on your son’s mistakes can reduce his confidence and lower self-esteem. While it is important to discuss problems when they arise, it is also important to acknowledge moments of success and reinforce positive behaviors. Engaging in new activities, developing healthy relationships, and trying different positive coping mechanisms can help improve their outlook while simultaneously reducing conflict. Encouraging your child to reach their full potential can influence them in their decision to accept help.
- Create consistent, reinforced guidelines: It is important to be clear with your son and outline what is considered acceptable or unacceptable behavior. Guidelines will help your son better understand your expectations, while also allowing you to determine your reactions to situations. If possible, developing guidelines with your child will help them better understand your expectations and the consequences should they not meet them. Using a cause and effect outline will allow your guidelines to function more concretely. Additionally, once guidelines have been created, they must be enforced consistently. Inconsistent guidelines can lead to confusion, reduced effectiveness, and a diminished relationship.
- Set boundaries: While guidelines outline what behaviors you consider acceptable or not, boundaries create clarity surrounding how you will or will not be treated. Substance abuse can test your boundaries repeatedly and put you in uncomfortable, sometimes dangerous, situations. Creating boundaries during a calm period can help you avoid acting inconsistently and protect yourself as well. Determining what levels of substance abuse you will accept (if any), how you expect to be treated by your son, and what you are willing to sacrifice for them can help you ensure you are not enabling their behavior, whether or not you are aware of it.
- Take care of yourself: Taking care of yourself can help you better care for your son. Your son’s addiction will undoubtedly make you feel stressed and anxious, among numerous other negative emotions. Caring for yourself may require you to ask for help. Joining support groups, practicing relaxation skills, and making time for the activities you enjoy most can help you maintain your own health. In some extreme cases, taking care of yourself may require you to cut ties with your son. A professional can help you better assess your situation and provide recommendations based off your unique needs.
Need Help Finding Treatment for You Son?
If your son or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.