Is your son addicted to drugs or alcohol? Do you have constant worries that you are going to pick up the phone to hear that he is in hospital, has been arrested, or worse? If so, then we put together this page especially for you.
Below you will find an outline that will help you to tackle your son’s drug or alcohol addiction. If you combat it together, head on, it is possible for you to get him off drink or drugs. However, it might not be possible, too, in which case you need to be able to separate yourself from that blame. We have guidance for this, too.
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If you are dealing with a drug or alcohol addicted son that is underage for drinking, then going to the GP is your first point of call. The GP can advise him on all the ways that the alcohol is having a negative effect on his body. They will be able to talk him through all the elements of addiction, what it looks like and how he can avoid it. The GP will also be able to point you in the direction of getting further help.
If your addicted son is a fully grown adult, then you can still help him. If he doesn’t live with you, inviting him home while he goes through outpatient rehab could be the way to reach him[i]. Be careful that your behaviour isn’t enabling him to use more, but that it is supportive, instead.
It is vital that your son knows they can come to you to talk about their addiction. If they are talking to you, you can still help them. Keeping the lines of communication open is the difference between your son going missing for a week at a time, and your son being able to talk to you about his problems. This can be difficult because you will hear things you don’t want to know about, but it’s either that or losing him completely,
Boundaries are an excellent way for you to help your son without damaging yourself. Setting boundaries means letting him know exactly what you expect from him, with respect to yourself[ii]. And respect is the key word here. If he doesn’t respect you, he will walk all over you. He will happily live in your home rent free, without paying any bills, doing any housework, and while still using drugs.
When you set a boundary, you are telling a person that this is what you expect of them. You are saying that you will accept no more of their behaviours, and clearly stating that these are the things that will happen if they try to take advantage of you in future.
So, if your boundary is that you no longer lend your son money, and if your son comes round a week later asking for money, you can refer him to your boundaries and say no. Not only can you say no, but his actions have been disrespectful to you because he didn’t respect your boundary. No matter what words he uses to try and emotionally manipulate you, he has come to you from a place of disrespect. Keep this in mind. Boundaries help you prove to yourself that you are not wrong.
Learning everything you can about addiction is a great place to start to help an addicted child. There is more to learn about individual addictions than you might think. For example, Crack andCocaine are two different things, prescription drug addiction is all too common, and keeping adrinks journal can help you keep track of alcoholism.
All these things – and many more – are located within our website. Browse around and get to know more about your son’s addiction. Forewarned is forearmed in this case. You can also use your local library or find more info in the NHS pages, should you need it.
Placing blame, or nagging your son, is only going to make things worse. Nagging and telling him about all the things that he is doing wrong, is only going to drive him further away from you. Placing the blame for his addiction at his own feet is something that he will learn to work through in therapy sessions while he is in rehab[iii]. If you place blame before he is ready, it will only make him hate you[iv].
When your son or daughter, husband, friend, or colleague, has an addiction problem, they will constantly barrage you with emotional manipulation. Learning how to spot it and protecting yourself against it is part and parcel of dealing with an addict. Studying different therapy models could help you to recognise emotional manipulation.
Counsellors can help you learn to spot manipulation as it happens[v]. Specifically, it will help you perform reality checks[vi]. These simple little checks are enough to make you pause and think about your son’s actions towards you.
For example, if he comes to you asking for his inheritance early because he really loved his grandad and he wants to wear the watch he gave him every day. You should listen to the request then engage some reality checking. What is the likelihood that he will sell the watch for drug money? What is the likelihood that he really wants the watch early to wear it, and not to trade it? What is the likelihood that you saying no to this demand would result in a family argument if the watch wasn’t going to be used for drugs or alcohol?
If you say no to him and a massive argument ensues, you can be positive that he is trying to manipulate you into giving him the watch so he can spend it on his addiction.
Getting some therapy of your own could be a great place to start but getting family therapy is the continuation point. If your son is young enough to still live at home, there will be a lot of hurt and resentment flying around about his behaviour. If he lives alone, then he may have a girlfriend or partner, and a child of his own. All this needs to be healed.
In reputable inpatient rehab clinics, you ought to find that they run family therapy sessions as part of the course. Family therapy has proven to be an effective part of the rehab journey in clinical trials[vii].
What to say and what not to say when you suspect your child is developing a drug addiction.
Enabling behaviours mark the difference between supporting your loved one and supporting your loved one’s addiction[x]. If you frequently give your teenage son spending money on the weekend and wonder why he comes home drunk, that’s an enabling behaviour. If you give him the snacks, he says he will buy with the money, or give him the soda he says he will buy instead of giving him the cash, that’s being supportive.
If you catch yourself enabling his unacceptable behaviour, go back to the setting boundaries stage and let him know what he has lost.
If your son is an addict and you are certain of it, then staging an intervention could be a way forward. You can invite him or choose not to tell him about it. When you stage an intervention, you should invite all his closest friends and family members to one place. Next, have them write down all the things that he has done to them, or that have changed since he became an addict.
When you have had a rehearsal, it is time to act. Confront him with all this information and he will be unable to deny it. It could be just the shock to the system he needs to force him to seek out rehab help. You can learn more about staging an effective intervention on our website.
Staging an intervention has shown to be an effective way to get your son or daughter into rehab help, in psychological studies[xi].
We offer free consultations about surviving with a drug or alcohol addicted son or daughter in the family. Our consultations have no-obligations and do nothing but give you free advice. We can find a great rehab clinic that suits his needs and get him the help he deserves. It all starts with a phone call.
You can get further help for your addiction right here in the Help4Addiction pages. We can offer free consultations, advice, and just general support when you need it most. Taking care of an addict is exhausting, but if you can turn your son’s life around, it will be worthwhile. Help4Addiction can find him a rehab clinic near you and ensure you don’t have to go through this ordeal alone.
Finding recovery treatment for alcohol and drug addictions near you
You can call us here at Help4Addiction, or you can see your doctor for more information.
If you notice any of the signs of addiction, you should talk to your child about drugs. They might be unable to focus, act shiftily, or become obsessive about spending time outside with their friends. Try keeping them home for a few days and see if they experience withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol and drug withdrawal are both similar. Look out for insomnia, vomiting or nausea, an upset stomach, aches and pains or shaking.
If they spend all of their money on drugs or alcohol, experience frequent and radical mood shifts, and regularly spend all night out with their friends, then they might have a drug problem.
You can send him to rehab, intervene with some therapy, or ask your GP for help.
If you have a chat with your son about the drug use and they don’t change, stage an intervention. If that doesn’t work, consider sending them to a residential rehab clinic for their own good.
If you are giving them help to buy drugs or alcohol, even though they are suffering from an addiction, then you are an enabler.
You need to learn to say no to anything that feels like it is an abuse of your love for him. It is as simple and as difficult as that.
Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.
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