Addiction is an often misunderstood disease that can be traced back to the brain, as reported by the Nexus Recovery Treatment Center. For this reason, those suffering from addiction should be assisted towards recovery, not shunned and punished.
All mothers with drug-addicted children agree with that. However, no matter how strong a mother can be for her child, the situation can still be too much to handle sometimes. If you’re in that same boat, you can apply these four tips to deal with your drug-addicted child:
- Improve your communication
You can only know what’s really going on with your child if you take the time and put in the effort to communicate with him effectively. This would be significantly harder to do with a strained relationship. Hence, if you’re having trouble connecting with him, it’s a good idea to check the nature and status of your relationship first. It may not be easy nor immediate, but once you address the issues that may sit below the surface of your relationship, your child will more likely be more comfortable in sharing his struggles with you. In turn, you’d probably be more open to listening to what they have to say.
From there, you can look into the problems that may exist between the two of you at the communication level. Moving forward, you must know that children, in particular, would feel a strong need to hide their addictions from their parents to avoid disappointing them. Through efficient and assertive communication, you can discern your child’s genuine thoughts from his well-crafted deceptions. On your end, effective communication can get rid of any misconceptions about addiction that you may have.
Here are the aspects of communicating with your troubled child that you can examine and eventually improve:
Regularly checking on your kid and asking simple questions like, “How are you doing?” can be the difference between life and death. Treat daily conversations with them as natural and necessary as changing your clothes. See to it that you never let a day go by without talking to your child, especially if the two of you don’t live under the same roof.
Once you make a habit out of having frequent talks with your child, the next step is to enrich your conversations with topics that matter at the moment. You don’t always have to talk about his addiction; it’s a sensitive issue that should be discussed under the right circumstances. Instead, you could focus on reminding him of his worth and who he is outside of his addiction.
Inviting your child to talk could be received in different ways, depending on the kind of environment that you’re conveying. Before you start the conversation, make sure that he knows that all his thoughts, feelings, and urges are accepted and understood. Follow-through with that sentiment by asking sensitive and well-phrased questions, and by listening actively.
- Set clear boundaries and expectations
You must learn the difference between helping your child and enabling him. It’s alright if you can’t distinguish between the two right away. As a mother, it’s only natural to come to your child’s rescue and, if necessary, even sacrifice yourself when you feel like he’s in trouble. However, when it comes to a child with a drug addiction, you have to take a different approach.
The first thing to do is to determine the things that you will and won’t do for your child. Try to do this when you’re reasonably calm and rational. By looking into the limits of your tolerance in this context, you can start setting clear and specific boundaries for yourself.
Addiction, by nature, doesn’t care about not crossing a line, meeting a standard, or staying above the belt. When you impose a rule on your child, usually his addiction will sooner or later convince him to break it. So, expecting your child to abide by your rules will only put on more frustration and anger into your already towering pile. This is why it’s more realistic to set boundaries for yourself, which you can then share with your child. When he’s informed of such boundaries, you can then set expectations for his behavior and – if you think it’s best – consequences when he doesn’t meet them.
- Encourage and practice positivity
Your child probably already knows that he is in a bleak situation. Another thing that you can do to help them out is to focus on the more positive things by doing the following:
- Avoid dwelling on the negative, like their mistakes and setbacks
- Keep conversations light when you can
- Celebrate their success, no matter how small the achievement may seem
You can try to always remain positive, but not all moments allow that. In that case, try not to let your child see you depressed, angry, or frustrated. Keep your emotions in check.
- Practice self-care
Having a child who’s addicted to drugs can lead to years of pain. As much as you’d like to give them all your strength now, you have to think about the long term. Make sure that you’re also taking care of yourself by:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating nutritious food
- Exercising regularly
- Socializing with peers
Aside from all that, you should also look after your mental health. You can do that by learning to accept the fact that you can’t control most of the things that come with addiction. Sometimes, the best you can do is to be there for your child.
It’s a distinct and unimaginable type of suffering – seeing the child you nurtured fall prey to a disease more powerful than traditional Western medicine. It’s therefore understandable if you want to pick him up and out of the rut yourself and carry all his burdens on your shoulders. It comes to a point, however, when you must let them deal with things on their own. Have faith that, after all the ups and downs, your child has what it takes to save himself in the end.