My Child is a Drug Addict: What Can I Do?
If you have a son or daughter addicted to drugs or alcohol, you might feel helpless and exasperated with not even a glimmer of hope that anything can be done. As someone who was addicted to drugs or alcohol for nearly 20 years, and after having many near-death experiences and landing in prison for many years, I can honestly say that there are many things you can do—and many things you shouldn’t do.
What To Do
The first thing you should do is offer help and demand that they get it, regardless of what they might say or even do. As a professional interventionist, it is a very rare thing that parents address any addiction or even behavioral issues early on.
The warning signs have been there for years and go unnoticed or you may have had the mindset “Oh, he’ll grow out of it, he’s just a kid.” Before you know it, that “kid” is a 25-year-old man with a full-blown heroin addiction. More often than not, the behavior alone is enough to warrant doing some kind of program. I’ve witnessed the most disrespectful behavior you could ever imagine from drug addicts with parents taking it all in stride all the while. Keep in mind if your son or daughter is treating you that way, the one who loves them the most, how do you think they really feel about themselves? Their self-respect is long gone, how would they ever have any respect for you if they don’t respect themselves enough to clean themselves up?
The truth is you have to have your own standards and keep them high, not lowering them to meet your loved one’s standards. You are not going to love the addiction out of them. What you will do is love them to death. Enabling is the biggest enemy here. If they refuse help then you have to stop enabling and be in complete disagreement with the lifestyle. It won’t be easy but if you are not willing to change your ways, then you really can’t expect your loved one to change their ways. Believe it or not, your loved one’s rehabilitation starts with you.
Expecting a behavior such as drug or alcohol addiction to change without you yourself being willing to change the behavior of the family dynamic is a false hope. It’s just not going to happen. The best rehab programs in the world simply cannot rehabilitate behaviors and an addiction that has gone on for years in just a few short weeks or months.
What Not to Do
One of the most important things of what not to do is contribute to the addiction or bad behavior in any way whatsoever. If you reward bad behavior, guess what you are going to get? More bad behavior. You don’t pay for fines, legal fees, car repair, bills or anything, much less give them room and board. If you are going to clean up their messes they are going to keep making them.
Often hear “Oh, I don’t know how bad it is” well, how bad do you want it to get? Why wait till it gets bad? There are only three ways this ends, death, jail or they get into treatment and change their ways. Don’t fool yourself. There is not a fourth option. My mantra is “It’s never too soon do an intervention, it’s always too late.”
I practice what I preach too. I have been in the shoes of your loved one as an addict, and a parent of troubled teenage boy. We intervened on him early on and were able to get him turned around in time for him to enjoy his high school years playing football and enjoying life. The thing is we didn’t have any evidence of him using drugs either, it was the behavior alone that caused us to move sooner than later. I knew how this was going to go and was unwilling to spend the next decade “hoping he would grow out of it.” We saved ourselves a ton of heartache and grief and more than likely his life. He turns 30 this year and sells life insurance in Miami and just got married.
21 years ago, I was on federal probation with seven years in prison and $300,000 in fines hanging over my head when I was intervened on by the US Marshals Service. I completed the Narconon program in December of 2000 and have never looked back.
If you have a loved one struggling there is hope, and something can be done. I know what to do and if you’d like to learn what you can do, let me know. I’ll be more than happy to help guide and coach you into getting into a proactive position into a reactive position with your addicted loved one. If you would like to learn more, please reach out.
Robert “Bobby” Newman II CPS, ICDAC, CIP