Parenting a teen or adult son with a drug addiction puts some extraordinary demands on a family. Whether you’re doing the work as part of a parenting team or going it alone, coping with your son’s addiction and making time for your own self-care can feel like an exhausting endeavor every day. Today let’s look at 10 tips to help you manage your days as you help your child work towards a recovery solution.
As a parent of a teen or adult son with a drug addiction, you may see your efforts to help him get into recovery consuming a great deal of your time. While effectively responding to addiction in the family can differ from home to home, setting a goal of creating a safe space to talk about addiction, consequences, and treatment options is helpful. At the same time, it’s recommended a parent coping with their child’s addiction can focus on self-care practices, such as seeking therapy or joining a support group, to ensure they protect their own health and well-being.
With a drug addiction in the family, your first choice may be to put all of your efforts into helping the family member with the addiction. It shows up as emotional support, responding to a relapse, doing research on treatment programs, and numerous other ways. It can seem endless at times, so let’s look at simple ways to approach coping with a child’s addiction and ensuring you take care of yourself, too.
5 Tips for Supporting A Son with Drug Addiction
- Create conversations, not interrogations. You’re aiming for an honest and authentic exchange with your son and that may come from first choosing a safe place and safe time to talk. Consider how the circumstances might affect a conversation and choose listening or talking when your son is opening up about anything. The conversation does not need to focus on treatment for it to be productive and reestablish your connection and improve rapport.
- Set clear boundaries for behavior and lead by example. You’re still modeling expected behavior for your teen or adult child so be prepared to deliver yourself on the same expectations you have for them. The boundaries you set should reflect what you see as reasonable to co-exist with them in the same house, not necessarily the behaviors you see as a recovery goal. Be patient and remember aiming to meet expectations will be a work-in-progress.
- Reward positive behavior. Rather than focusing only on the addiction behaviors you want to help them change, look at their positive choices as an opportunity to reward them in some way, whether it be praise or a tangible item or access to something they like. You’re looking for ways to encourage them to make good choices consistently, and giving them aspects of themselves to see as positive is one way to build towards those good choices. Even the smallest of rewards can be beneficial.
- Follow up on consequences of unexpected behavior. Cause and effect works as a principle when your son sees the consequences you spelled out earlier are now inevitable. There’s no need to negotiate with him at this point. It’s simply a matter of a particular behavior leading to a particular result. The more clear you can make the consequences ahead of time, the less likely they will seem open to interpretation later.
- Offer support in different forms, depending on the situation. You may find numerous ways to actively support your child with addiction by helping them take care of basic needs or putting up visual reminders about responsibilities or self-care. Providing a consistently supportive environment can create a place more favorable for a conversation about what kind of treatment program he’s open to considering.
5 Tips for Practicing Good Self-Care during Addiction Support
- Create daily routines for yourself, with flexibility in mind. Your son’s addiction may be disruptive to a schedule so one response is creating your routines with flexibility. For example, if a morning workout gets missed due to an unexpected issue with your son, make the time to do it later on the same day. It’s important to protect the activities that keep you healthy and feeling whole, even if it means juggling them a bit on a daily basis.
- Empower yourself with the help of a professional. Whether you’re married or single, the effects of parenting a child with addiction are highly personal. You may be impacted differently than a partner or spouse, and ensuring your mental health stays strong is a good way to continue to effectively cope with a child with a substance use disorder. Regardless of how often you meet with a professional, discuss strategies you can use daily to respond to any disruption in the family due to addiction.
- Join a support group for parents with a similar family situation. You may have chosen to keep the addiction from friends and relatives for any number of reasons, including an expectation of judgment or lack of understanding. Finding other people going through the same kinds of things with their sons or daughters can be helpful in reminding you how you’re not alone. These settings give a parent a safe space to share the challenges created by addiction in the family and offer ideas, inspiration, and new strategies to try.
- Start or return to an activity you enjoy. Sacrifice comes with the territory as a parent, but sacrifice that affects your health and well-being should not be seen as acceptable. Even when the addiction-related duties are at their most demanding, devoting time to an activity you once enjoyed or one you have always wanted to start can help you renew your perspective and take a break from the stress. A break from the environment where the most stressful moments occur, such as your own home, can be very valuable.
- Invest in other family relationships, independent of the addiction. Your other family relationships are not defined by the addiction of your son, although they can feel heavily influenced by that addiction. Taking time to engage with other people in the family is important to maintain and grow those relationships, too. Whether you schedule an activity together or do something spontaneous, the interaction you have as a family is part of creating an overall supportive environment for everyone.
Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1019.