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Substance Abuse Treatment, Counseling and Therapeutic Consulting

Parenting a Child or Young Adult Suffering From Addiction

parenting child suffering from addictionHarpar Bazaar recently ran an article entitled “How I (Finally) Learned to Talk to My Drug Addict Daughter,” written by Linda Dahl, author of “The Bad Dream Notebook.” In the article, she details a very real and revealing conversation between herself and her daughter, who was struggling with heroin addiction.

Here’s a snippet:

Me: “Relapse happens, especially with young people. I know that you’ve relapsed and I’m so very sorry. Because I know how hard you’ve worked to get well.”

She: {silence}

Me: “I know and you know that addiction is a disease. I never told you this, but your great-grandmother was diabetic. Every now and then, she couldn’t resist having a piece of cake or pie. The last time she did, it nearly killed her. So she stopped. And it’s the same thing now with this addiction.”

She: {silence}

Me: “So, you have a choice now. You can give me the rest of the dope, I’ll drive you to a 12-step meeting where you get a temporary sponsor, and agree to go to recovery meetings every day you’re here. Or, you’ll have to find somewhere else to stay. Because I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”

She: {brief silence, broken by weeping.} “Okay.”

Me: {also crying} “I’m so proud to have you as my daughter. You’re smart and funny and talented. This is a blip and I’ll support you every step of the way.”

A Lesson in Parenting
Parenting a child with addiction requires a great deal of love, patience, and support – and you’re likely to make mistakes along the way. “I’m humbled by all the mistakes I made, trying to fix her, minimizing the problem because it was too painful to look at,” writes Dahl. “We have a veil over our eyes when it comes to our children.”

Whether you unknowingly enable your loved one or get angry or say the wrong the thing, there’s bound to be bumps along the road to recovery for both of you. Here are few tips on parenting a child struggling with addiction:

  • Get educated. To truly help your loved one, it’s important to understand that addiction is a disease and has nothing to do with a lack of moral principles or willpower. Along these lines, recovery takes much more than good intentions or a strong will. “The addicted brain needs the drugs with an intensity that wipes out every healthy instinct,” writes Dahl.
  • Seek support. Navigating these waters can be too overwhelming and tricky without a good support team, including trained addiction experts and/or mental health professionals. Dahl credits her ability to talk with her daughter to her good counselor as well as support from other parents like herself. Whether you choose an in-person or online support group, reaching out to others in similar shoes can help minimize any loneliness or isolation you’re feeling and help you come up with coping strategies. 
  • Practice self-care. Recovery is a long journey for both you and your loved one, so you need to take self care seriously. Resist the urge to neglect your own needs and, instead, take time to fuel your mind and body so you have more energy and increased patience.
  • Consider CRAFT. If your loved one refuses treatment, the CRAFT program may help. CRAFT, or Community Reinforcement and Family Training, teaches the use of healthy rewards to encourage positive behaviors. And it focuses on helping both the substance user and the family to make powerful changes and reduce relationship conflict. According to research, more than two-thirds of family members who use CRAFT successfully engage their loved ones in addiction treatment.

Seeking Support at Family Recovery Specialists
If you are concerned that your child is struggling with addiction, we can help you develop a plan to encourage someone you care about to get the treatment he or she needs to embark on a new, better sober life. To learn more about our intervention and therapeutic consulting services for adolescents, call us today: 305-595-7378.



Addiction Counseling in Miami, Florida

Family Recovery Specialists offers adolescent and adult substance abuse counselors, treatment and consulting in Miami.

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*** This program is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families to provide substance abuse services in Miami, FL.

  • Florida Department of children and families
  • informedfamilies
  • natsp
  • naaptp
  • Network of Independent Interventionists
  • Therapeutic Consulting Association
  • The Daring Way
  • SMART Recovery
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