When a young adult engages in substance abuse, his or her friends and family members tend to be significantly affected; but, it is often the parents who often feel the greatest impact. The lies and secret lives are hard to digest and deal with. Witnessing the changes in a person’s health and personality as they become more and more addicted is heart wrenching. It’s with good reason that parents often fear for their child’s life once they know they are abusing drugs or alcohol. Not only do thousands of teens die from drug abuse and overdoses each year, but young adults who abuse drugs and/or alcohol are also more likely to commit suicide.
Each parent deals with the reality of drug abuse in their family in different ways. Overall, many parents want to protect their child from further self-harm and seek out treatment for them. For teens, parents can force them into treatment. Teens forced into drug treatment may try to run away and quite often young adults who are 18 years of age or older cannot be held against their will.
The psychological stress of these situations can cause negative reactions from parents. They may begin to blame themselves, or others, for their child’s poor choices. Some parents also start assuming responsibility for their child’s affairs – whether it be covering up their addiction from friends or employers, or paying their bills. Not only does this burden the parents, but it creates a false sense of reality for the young adult. It’s important for the person who is addicted to realize the consequences of their actions and to be held accountable for them. This is how they will grow and begin to want change for themselves.
Dealing with the stresses of teen substance abuse make it even harder to be a good role model. It’s hard not to be upset, saddened and completely distraught when it seems like every second your child’s life is unraveling. Even though it is a tremendous challenge to overcome, how you cope with the stress will serve as an example for your teen to learn from.
It’s important for parents to take care of themselves. By seeking counseling and creating a support group will show your child that it’s okay to get help from others when you need it. It may inspire them to get help. Community groups like the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and Al-Anon are designed to empower adults who want to get help for someone they love.