After the initial emotions (fear, anger, confusion, shame), there comes the time to do something about your child’s drug problem. While you may feel that your are alone in your disappointment and worry you are not. In fact, you do not have to handle the situation on your own. Seeking counseling can help!
In this article, we review how parents of drug addicts benefit from counseling and structured therapy. After reading, we invite your questions in the comments section at the end. In fact, we try to respond to all questions with a personal and prompt response.
When should parents of drug addicts ask for help?
The best time to ask for a mental professional?s help is as soon as you notice there is a problem. A drug addiction affects the whole family. So, just as your teenage or adult child needs help, you too need to deal with many issues along the way. Here are some of the the stages and scenarios during which you can use the services of addiction counselors and therapists:
1) Before and after staging an intervention
Interventions are important because this is the time wehn you, as a parent, will remind the addict why they need to seek help and give them reasons to quit using drugs. However, it is important to be ready for this event, which is why a counselor or intervention specialist is there to guide you through it. A professional can prepare you for what you can expect and how to react, as well as mediate the intervention. After the intervention is over and your drug addicted child has agreed to get help, the counselor will usually stay for some time to talk to everyone and open a discussion to help the family deal with their thoughts and emotions.
2) If you are enabling the drug addict
There is a difference between loving an addict and enabling them. Many parents make the same mistake and do not set limits with their children. Believing that you are protecting your child, willing to give up your life to save them and erasing the pain IS NOT ENOUGH to solve the addiction problem. This type of behavior is not supporting your child into making better decisions, but it has the exact opposite effect.
That?s why counseling is important; a counselor can work with you to point out enabling practices and teach you how to positively influence your child?s decision making. While you can support your addicted son or daughter and provide them the right treatment and recovery opportunities, you should also be leading through example. In part, your actions have resulted in where you are now. Changing your thoughts and actions can lead to different results.
3) If you are looking to only fix the addict
Believing that ?I?m not the addict, thus I don?t need any help? or ?S/he is the addicted one, so treatment only needs to fix him/her? are very destructive thoughts… mostly because addiction prospers in families and environments of ignorance and denial. Instead of blaming your addicted child and perceiving him/her as a ?bad person?, you can work with a counselor to overcome these emotions associated with quilt or shame.
Counseling sessions or open A.A./N.A. meetings can help parents of drug addicts learn the facts about drug addiction and see that they are not alone in this experience. Al-Anon and Narc-Anon are also support systems that provide you with structure and support. After all, parents too need support and reasons to be hopeful ? that?s exactly why sharing personal stories and experiences in these counseling meetings is so important.
4) When you are avoiding working together during recovery
After your son or daughter has finished the treatment program, the work is not over yet. Extensive months or years of counseling and psychotherapy lie ahead to help them deal with cravings, sober life challenges, and triggers. Once again, parents play an important role during the recovery period and can use the help of mental health professionals to deal with the changes their child needs, as well as with their own personal struggles.
What types of counseling should parents seek?
Addiction counselors recommend Family Behavior Therapy as one of the successful approaches that bring the addict and parents together for counseling. Therapists encourage families to apply the behavioral strategies used in counseling sessions in order to improve the home environment. Parents usually develop behavioral goals ? attached to a contingency management system. When goals are achieved, there are certain rewards for each accomplishment. We suggest you also check out the CRAFT intervention model, which is based on this type of counseling.
What can parents of addicts do for themselves?
Parents tend to lose themselves in the efforts of supporting their drug addicted child, regardless if it?s a teenager or an adult. Counseling is beneficial since it often reminds parents that while their child?s addiction is something that needs attention, mom and dad still need to care for themselves. Here are some final tips to help remind you to do things for yourselves:
- Take some personal time to recover and regain your energy. Don?t neglect your own interests and responsibilities because you are caring for someone else.
- Detach yourself from your addicted child?s decisions. You cannot decide nor think for them, so avoid the self-blame for the things you are not responsible for.
- Be an example for them. Be a balanced parent who does not only cater other people?s needs. Addicts need to do things for themselves and accept responsibilities too.
- Whenever it feels like you are losing grip, talk to a professional or go to a support group meeting.
Counseling for parents of drug addicts questions
We hope you found some answers and encouragement to lift some weight from your shoulders. With the help of addiction counseling for parents or families of drug addicts, you can progress. Now, feel free to post your inquiries in the comments section below if you feel you need addiction counseling and support. We will try to respond to all legitimate queries with a personal and prompt response.