How To Deal With a Drug Addict Son
The number of young people using drugs in the US is increasing. By the time they get to the 12th grade, almost half of teenagers have tried illicit drugs. Sadly, between 2016 and 2020, drug use rose by 61% among eighth-graders. As a result, more parents are searching for answers on how to deal with their child’s addiction.
Typically, males are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol – 11.5% of males over the age of 12 have a substance use disorder, compared to 6.4% of women and girls.
If you are one of the millions of parents struggling to support an addicted child, it may seem daunting and overwhelming. Still, support groups, addiction facilities, and other parents can help.
What Causes Drug Addiction?
The first step to supporting your son is understanding substance addiction, the kinds of treatment programs available, and what addiction recovery looks like.
Many parents struggle to understand why their son sometimes acts the way he does, and many are unaware of why their son began using drugs in the first place. Contrary to what people believe, addiction is not about having poor willpower or a lack of morals. The chemical reactions in the brain when someone struggles with drug addiction are very different from those in someone without one.
While drug addiction can affect anyone, risk factors can contribute to the development of a substance use disorder.
Addiction can be hereditary. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost half of the risk factors of addiction to alcohol and other drugs are related to genetics. Having family members who have struggled with addiction makes your son more likely to experience it too.
In recent years, the significance of the environment has been increasingly recognized. Lack of parental involvement during formative years leads to a higher risk of experimenting with drugs. Children who suffer abuse or neglect may also turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their emotions.
Peer pressure can additionally be a significant factor in teenage substance use, as can the availability of substances in social groups and geographical areas. Many young people struggle with the urge to fit in, and experimenting can soon lead to reliance.
Dual diagnosis refers to someone who had been diagnosed with a substance use disorder along with another mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression. Existing mental health issues can increase a person’s chance of addiction. Meanwhile, drug addiction can intensify the severity of other mental health conditions.
This can lead to a vicious cycle where an addiction progresses quickly, with many people under the impression that drugs alleviate the symptoms of depression. In reality, drug abuse will most likely worsen the symptoms in the long run.
Experimenting with drugs early in life can impact brain development and lead to mental health disorders and addiction later in life.
What Is a Substance Use Disorder?
A substance use disorder is classified as either overusing a substance or using a substance in a way that is not intended — for example, using painkillers more often than prescribed or taking stimulants like Ritalin to study for long periods.
What Is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is generally seen as being more severe than drug abuse. Abusing substances like alcohol or prescription drugs can lead to chemical changes in the brain that cause addiction. Addiction to drugs is a relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive use, regardless of the dangerous consequences.
Substance Abuse Support
Supporting a person who has a substance use disorder or drug addiction can be incredibly difficult. The road to recovery is long, and it takes many people a long time to realize that their drug and alcohol use is causing problems and that they need professional addiction treatment.
However, there are many ways to help your son in his recovery. Below, we have shared just a few.
Strengthen Your Relationship
Drug addiction can often cause people to behave in manipulative and unkind ways that can put a lot of strain on relationships. Try to remember that your child’s addiction is changing their brain’s reward system, and their behavior changes as a result.
One way to strengthen your relationship is to let your son know you care for him and love him. Addiction can be lonely and isolating, and people struggling often distance themselves from family members due to guilt.
Good communication is central to maintaining a strong relationship. When it comes to communication, make sure that you keep a good balance of asking questions and actively listening. It is also beneficial to keep assumptions and expectations out of your interactions.
If you have an adult son or young adult child, it is vital to communicate as his parent and as an equal who respects and values them.
When you live with someone who is struggling with an addiction, it is important to set healthy boundaries to take care of your own well-being as you support your son in his recovery. Other family members may set their own boundaries as this is an individual process.
It is essential to set boundaries when you are calm and thinking rationally about what you will and won’t accept. Those with drug addictions and mental illnesses are renowned for their ability to test the boundaries of those they love directly or indirectly through manipulation.
If you are unsure how to set boundaries or find yourself wondering which to set, we can help you.
Remember to practice self-care while trying to look after your son. After all, looking after your own feelings and well-being is just as important.
Becoming overwhelmed and burnt out can make you less patient, less empathetic, and can have negative consequences on your relationship. Your child’s substance abuse or addiction could last for years, so creating practices in your own life that can help you take care of your mental health will improve family relationships and your son’s long-term recovery.
You may want to consider joining a support group so you can meet with other families or parents to talk about your son’s addiction and how it affects you.
Encourage Positive Behavior
Seeking treatment for a drug addiction is an incredibly challenging process. Substance abuse treatment often involves reflecting on past behaviors and the negative impact they have on family members and friends.
Your addicted son will likely carry a lot of guilt, which can impede his progress during a treatment program. The recovery process will be challenging, but try to encourage and reward positive behaviors and milestones.
Focusing on your child’s mistakes and poor decision-making will lead to low confidence, lower self-esteem, and a lowered sense of personal power, all of which can contribute to continued substance use.
Seeking Addiction Treatment
Researching different treatment options and rehab centers before approaching the subject with your child is essential. For example, you could look into treatment facilities and uncover what the admissions process looks like.
Your child’s addiction will require long-term treatment. Be aware that a 30-day treatment plan will not completely cure your son’s addiction. However, it will help your son take the first step in overcoming his substance abuse through the employment of treatments such as detox and therapy.
Although addictions have harmful consequences on the whole family, don’t give up. Remember that addiction is a chronic disease, and your child may lapse or relapse and require further addiction treatment, but they will always value your support.
Contact Us Today
If you would like to find out more about drug addiction treatment and the support available for both yourself and your son, please get in touch with us today.
In doing so, we can answer any questions you may have and share what a typical recovery program may look like.