Having a child in rehab is never easy. The constant worry, the fear that it won’t work, the threat of relapse, not being able to talk to them every day, it all adds up to being pretty upsetting and pretty nerve wracking in general. Parents stress out about their kids so much, and a parent of an addict has it ten times worse than anyone else. Parents who have kids in rehab will be under constant worry and wonderment as to how things are going and what is currently happening with their child. It takes a lot of courage and resolve for a parent to be able to take this all in stride and to continue to go through life normally until the child gets out of treatment.
There are hardly words to describe or express the emotional turmoil a parent experiences when their child becomes a substance abuser. Many parents struggle through a period of disbelief – disbelief that the sweet, intelligent, loving child they raised has been trapped by the dangerous chemicals that are drugs. When that same child they once knew so well becomes an angry, dishonest, desperate individual who is willing to steal from, lie to or deceive them in order to obtain more drugs, they acknowledge that something certainly must be done. Enrolling their child in drug rehabilitation treatment is often one of the first solutions that a parent tries.
However, simply because their child is enrolled in a rehabilitation treatment program, even one with proven success in effectively rehabilitating individuals for healthy, happy, drug-free lives, does not mean that the difficult part is over. Rehabilitation treatment itself can be an extremely difficult and challenging experience, both for the substance abuser and his parents. It is not unusual for a substance abuser to want to quit rehabilitation treatment, and many parents can benefit from following five basic tips while their child is in rehab.
1. Do not blame yourself for their choices.
It is true that parents have a very important job in raising their child. They must teach their child the basic ways of the world, concepts of honesty, ethics, and hard work as well as the many dangers the world can present. Many children have been raised in loving, supportive homes and have received wonderful education both in school and at home and have still made choices that have led to substance abuse and addiction. Rehabilitation treatment should help the individual understand and take responsibility for their own choices – it will not help them recover if their parents try to do this for them.
2. Understand that help is possible, and available.
It can be difficult for a parent to believe that help is possible or available if they have struggled to solve their child’s substance abuse problems without success. It can also be difficult to remain hopeful that something can be done to resolve addiction if one’s child has participated in rehabilitation treatment previously without achieving or maintaining their sobriety. However, there are many highly trained and experienced professionals and facilities who can and have successfully helped hundreds or even thousands of substance abusers achieve sobriety.
3. Substance abusers are often dishonest.
One of the most unfortunate facts of substance abusing loved ones is their willingness and ability to lie to their closest family members in order to further their drug habits. During rehabilitation treatment, and especially when treatment becomes challenging and difficult, a child may boldly lie to his parents in the hopes of being removed or released from the treatment program. Lies may even include stating that they are “better now” and done with the program, or that the program isn’t working for them or they are being mistreated.
4. Be strong for yourself and your child.
For the same reason that it can be difficult to watch one’s child struggle with drug addiction, it can be difficult to watch one’s child struggle with rehabilitation treatment. Withdrawing from drug use can be emotionally and physically painful. Taking responsibility for one’s actions and the damages one has caused for self and others can be very tough to confront. It is important to remember that your strength will not only allow you to make it through your child’s rehabilitation treatment, it will also assist them in doing so.
5. Be supportive and encouraging.
Substance abusers often feel as though no one really understands what they are going through. While there can still be a very real element of separateness between a substance-abusing child and their sober parents, the support and encouragement that parents lend while their child moves through rehabilitation treatment can make a marked difference in their progress and success. Children often desire to be praised by their parents, and working through something as tough as rehabilitation treatment should earn them great praise.
Drug addiction does not have to be something that an individual has to struggle with for the rest of their life. Parents who recognize substance abuse in their child and work to get them help through rehabilitation treatment are taking an important step in the direction of salvaging their child’s life and enabling them to have a brighter, happier future.