How to handle a drug addicted son?

According to statistics, over half of people with drug addiction barely reach the age of 30, which means their parents still play a crucial role in their lives. That’s why the question of how to handle a son who is using drugs is often directed to addiction specialists.

And there is a universal answer to this question — it doesn’t depend on the addict’s age, family’s social status, or other factors. In this article, we will touch the fundamental rules of behavior for relatives of an addict.

Main set of rules

Rule number one for parents of an addicted son is to acknowledge the existence of the problem. This can be more challenging than it seems: the horror of the situation, shame, and other emotions sometimes lead loved ones to turn a blind eye to the size of the problem or to believe that the addict will easily and quickly quit “misbehaving” on their own.

And second on the list, though not as important, is the rule to maintain composure and rationality after acknowledging the child’s illness. This is no less difficult. Upon getting to know about their son’s drug use, many parents start frantically searching for a way out of the situation and end up in the hands of scammers: magicians, shamans, and pseudo-addiction experts. It’s important to approach the search for a specialist critically and to consult only with doctors with proper medical education and from reputable centers. Otherwise, you might not only lose money but also face even more serious consequences.

The primary set of rules for dealing with an addicted son might look like this:

  • Gently and confidently convince the child of the necessity of qualified and expert treatment.
  • Treat the child with respect: it is the foundation of building a trusting dialogue.
  • Trust — yes, it’s important to trust your son and believe in his recovery, even if he attempts to lead a sober life not for the first time, and his previous attempts failed.

Numerous other guidelines stem from these basic rules. They form a sort of foundation for behavior. However, it’s important to understand that in most cases, parents make common mistakes due to a lack of knowledge about the specifics of the disease or out of desperation. These should also be taken into account. 

Common mistakes in handling an addict

Narcologists highlight the following common mistakes in behavior and communication with drug addicted children:

  • Doing the child’s duties and rectifying the consequences of their actions — paying the son’s debts or solving legal problems, tidying up after he’s spoiled a room, etc. Give him the opportunity to cope on his own and see the extent of their illness’s consequences.
  • Restricting freedom and showing mistrust: it’s important for the child to understand that concern arises not from disbelief in his abilities but from worries about him and parental love.
  • Allowing manipulation and crossing personal boundaries: you should also assert your personal boundaries and not let the addict control you.
  • Keeping alcohol, drugs, substances at home: it’s better to limit their easy accessibility.
  • Blackmail, persuasion, manipulation: this can only worsen the patient’s guilt and make things worse.

The last point is perhaps the most common mistake, especially during the phase of convincing the child to seek treatment. We know that an addict’s critical thinking is greatly impaired, and he often fails to realize that they are sick, thus resisting seeking help. However, neither threats nor pleas will create the right motivation. It’s important to act gently and persuasively: admit that you’re concerned about him and wish him only good, and express concern for his health. If your rational arguments don’t have the desired effect, it’s best to seek the support of an expert. 

Clinic therapists’ assistance

If your addicted son refuses rehabilitation, never force him into treatment; otherwise, you risk permanently losing his trust and exacerbating the situation. According to statistics, nearly 9 out of 10 initial visits to an addiction specialist are initiated by close relatives, not the patient themselves — that’s the nature of addiction. And it’s important that a person’s motivation to seek help, even when accompanied by relatives, should not be based on promises of rewards for agreement or fear of punishment for refusal.

In the event of firm refusal, the best solution is an intervention. However, coercive placement in a rehabilitation center is a distorted understanding of intervention and this should not even take place! Experienced psychologists and psychiatrists know how to persuade and create a positive motivation for treatment without resorting to violence. 

During a motivational conversation, the patient’s specific condition, potential consequences, and ways to solve the problem are clarified. The dialogue is entirely confidential. Therapists from IsraRehab can assist in building a strong positive motivation for treatment: the motivational team consists of qualified staff with extensive experience. We approach treatment comprehensively: each patient is treated by a psychiatrist-addiction specialist, psychotherapist, and psychologist. We are also ready to offer psychological assistance and support to parents of the addicted: the clinic hosts support groups for codependents and family members. These groups address questions about how to properly behave with someone in recovery, how to help them, and yourself on the path to a life without drugs.

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