parents talking to son about addiction

Drug or alcohol addiction has a history of being generally higher amongst men than women. However, today that gender gap continues to close, especially in adolescents.

Health consequences vary according to gender, so it’s sometimes essential to look at the 2 differently. While men have higher rates of dependence, women may be more susceptible to relapse.

1. What Is Drug Addiction?

Many people ask, is drug addiction a disease? It is. Any drug addiction definition states that addiction to drugs or alcohol is a chronic disease.

It’s important to pay particular attention to the word chronic. What that means is that drug addiction is a relapsing brain disease. It’s characterized by compulsive or consistent drug seeking and use, regardless of harmful consequences.

Drug and alcohol cause changes to the brain. They work by producing pleasure, and they trigger the brain’s reward system, thus interrupting the normal flow of messaging and communication.

Dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters in the brain, can be found in some regions responsible for feelings of pleasure, cognition, motivation, emotion, and movement. When people use drugs, their reward system is then overstimulated, typically from a buildup of dopamine.

This, in turn, produces a rush feeling addicts crave when they use substances. Eventually, the brain rewires itself so that it continuously seeks this alternative way of producing feelings of reward. People need to understand this to realize that drug addiction isn’t a choice.

While someone’s first time using a particular drug is a choice, continued abuse is not something that most addicts can help. Even recovered addicts spend a lifetime fighting against their addiction.

2. Know the Signs of Addiction

Behavioral changes are amongst the biggest indicators that your son might be suffering from addiction and is in serious need of drug addiction treatment.

Here are some behavioral and physical symptoms to look for in someone who suffers from drug or alcohol addiction:

  • Spending money they can’t afford or don’t have
  • Doing things out of character, like stealing
  • Not meeting work obligations or other responsibilities
  • Dropping hobbies or other activities
  • Secrecy, isolation, and solitude
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Challenging in communication and behavior
  • Legal issues
  • Changes in appearance
  • Problems at school
  • A change in friends or social circle

Teenagers are notorious for spending alone time in their rooms or changing their friend circles. As much as you might feel like you no longer know your own son, pay attention to your parental instinct.

If your son is exhibiting the aforementioned behaviors, he needs professional help. No matter what he says or tells you, do not hesitate to get him the help he needs. Because addiction is a disease, he won’t be able to fight it on his own, nor is it up to you to do it for him.

3. Know the Physical and Mental Symptoms

There are many different physical and mental symptoms your son could show to indicate an addiction. They vary from substance to substance, and every individual is different.

However, here are some of the many indicators to look out for:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased sociability
  • Increased energy and agitation
  • Problems thinking clearly
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability or changes in mood
  • Problems thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Involuntary shaking (tremors)
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Falls or accidents
  • Dizziness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Chills and sweating
  • Memory problems or loss of memory

4. Don’t Blame Yourself

No parent is perfect, yet 75% of parents feel pressured to be perfect from family, friends, and social media.

All parents make mistakes, and all parents could probably be better at times. But there’s no way to go back and undo what’s been done. Likewise, blaming yourself for your son’s addiction won’t do any good either.

The best thing you can do for your son and your family is to move forward and get them the help they need and deserve. Blaming yourself will only set you both back and won’t help combat your son’s addiction. Plus, you need to be emotionally stable and strong so that you can support your child in the way that he needs.

5. You Can’t Rescue Your Child

You can’t rescue your child from addiction, either. Addiction is a chronic disease, which means the path to recovery is one with specialized treatment.

Simply put, rescuing does not work. If you try to rescue or save your son, he’ll most likely resist and resent you. He might feel bossed around or judged and pull away even more.

An addict needs to create their pathway to change and develop personal decision-making, with guidance from professionals who are trained and certified in addiction treatment.

While it can be tempting to help an addict reach certain conclusions about their habits, choices, and life, it won’t help them unless they reach those conclusions on their own. They may not want to change or be ready to change, which is why they need professional help.

Remember that you still have a million roles as a parent. Just because you can’t rescue them from their drug addiction doesn’t mean you can’t play an integral part in helping to get them where they need to be.

6. Don’t Make Excuses or Be an Enabler

Typically, in families with an addict, someone becomes an enabler to the addict. Sometimes it’s a sibling who is willing to cover things up or hand over money.

In many cases, the enabler is a parent. Enabling is detrimental to the recovery process.

More often than not, the enabler is in denial of what’s right in front of them. They want to protect their child or loved one and hold on to them forever.

They get stuck in the path of denial or making excuses so much that they put the addict in danger by ignoring the facts. Denying things won’t keep them as they are; it’ll make them worse.

Don’t make excuses about your son to friends and family either, especially when they can hear. Believe it or not, recognizing that they have an addiction is much more empowering than trying to cover it up. Addicts appreciate someone who’s on their side and recognize the extent to which the disease afflicts them.

Making excuses for them or covering up their behavior and actions will only contribute to their feelings of shame and isolation.

7. Set Boundaries for Your Child

It’s important to love and never give up on your addict son, but it’s also crucial to set clear and strict boundaries with consequences.

Are you willing to lie for your son? How do you expect to be treated?

Make some non-negotiable boundaries for your son and do not waiver. It won’t be easy as addiction often comes with manipulation and deceit. You don’t want your family practices and behaviors to set an example by doing the same.

Before making boundaries, know your limitations and needs so that you make rules you know you can adhere to, should your son break them.

Even if these boundaries result in anger or backlash, don’t give up. Stay consistent, and don’t stop communicating.

8. Communicate

Clear communication and honesty should be encouraged and practiced daily, both about the little things and the big things. While it may be difficult at first, excellent communication practices will help you better gauge your son, notice any symptoms and catch issues early, and then react in an appropriate way.

Ask questions and practice active listening regularly.

Open-ended and nonjudgmental questions are best. Open questions can’t be answered with one word, and they allow for increased communication between parties.

Plus, they open the door for you to learn more about your child’s struggles, hopes, feelings, and concerns.

9. Get Yourself Help

Don’t forget to care for yourself as it will help you care for your child. Chronic disease affects everyone, including the parents and other family members of addicts.

Many parents of addicts find themselves bogged down with feelings of anxiety or stress. Many parents of addicts also suffer from insomnia.

If you aren’t sleeping adequately or you feel out of control, you won’t be able to make consistent, healthy decisions for your child. Self-care allows you to model positive behavior for your son. Lead by example, and that includes your mental health, too.

You should have someone to talk to about your son’s addiction so that you can better process your own feelings and emotions.

If you ever find that you’re overly upset, irrational, or emotional, walk away. You can always approach your child or return to the same conversation at a later time.

10. Set up a Personal Intervention

Interventions make it possible for parents and families to take a proactive stance against their son’s drug addiction. They’re a great way to reach out and show the person who needs help how much you love and care for them enough to get them the help they need.

If possible, try to find the right time to talk, ideally one when they’re as sober as possible.

Hold a rehearsal, make a plan, and stick to the script. Deliver your lines clearly and confidently, but also with warmth and love. Try not to deviate and stick to the order of speakers you develop in your rehearsal.

Do everything you can to stay calm and keep tempers under control and don’t give up! A professional interventionist can provide integral support before, during, and after your intervention.

11. Find Long-Term Treatment

The next step is treatment. This doesn’t mean a 30-day treatment, as this will not cure your son. It might put a bandaid on the issues, but it will not cure or solve his chronic addiction.

Live-in facilities provide all the necessary comfort and support an addict needs to become sober and stay sober when they leave.

Recovery is personal. The best treatment center provides a place to heal while your loved one is safe. A family-run business with a history of success and personalized treatment plans is the ideal place to send your son.

12. Don’t Give Up

Remember that addiction is a chronic disease, which means your son will need your love and support long after they complete their treatment program. While they may relapse multiple times or never relapse again, addiction is still a disease they’ll continue to fight, potentially for the rest of their lives.

We have a relapse prevention program that helps patients develop their long-term plans to stay sober.

Ask us what you can do during and after treatment to continue to support your son and hold him accountable.

Learn How to Help a Drug Addict Son

The most important thing to know about how to help a drug addict son is that you can’t do it alone. Addiction is a chronic disease, and thus, it requires a specialized treatment plan for each individual, depending on their history and needs.

There is plenty you can do at home to help a recovering addict, from excellent communication practices to clear and strict boundaries. Just make sure you don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process!

If you feel it’s time for an intervention, don’t go at it alone. An intervention specialist will work with you and your family to help conduct the intervention and transition your son into a specially-designed treatment plan.

Remember that treatment won’t cure your son, but it’ll provide him with the necessary tools to move forward in life and continue to combat his addiction.

Do you want to learn more about how we can help your son on his journey to addiction recovery? Do you have questions about how you can help him live his best and healthiest life? Contact us today with any questions or concerns, or to begin the admissions process.

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