No matter what the substance being abused, a life is on the line when addiction takes over. There's the physical threat of overdosing or having some sort of accident that causes bodily harm, along with the mental health crisis an addict goes through and all the possible consequences that come with that. When the addict is your own child, you'll do anything to save them. Your efforts, though, need thoughtful planning that prioritizes all that your child is going through.
Is your child at risk of overdosing or otherwise harming themselves as a result of their addiction? Nearly any addict can OD, crash a car, experience a fall or get into trouble with nefarious drug dealers, meaning your first priority must be your child's physical safety. Contact a substance abuse clinic and, if necessary, the police or a crisis line so that you're prepared to immediately address any situation that comes up. As tough as it is to think of these possibilities, it's even tougher to deal with them without a plan.
Making it through substance abuse treatment, detoxing and going through withdrawals is no easy task. The entire ordeal may leave your child in a fragile mental state, which makes relapse an even greater possibility. If your teen has been diagnosed with or you suspect an additional issue with mental health, such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, counseling is an essential aspect of coming out of the darkness of drugs or alcohol. Find a counselor your teen is okay with, insist that they attend regular sessions and ask the counselor exactly what you should do for after-hours emergencies.
Getting the help you need during regular business hours can be hard; thus, it's easy to understand how doing so on a Sunday or holiday would be even more challenging. Your child must want help, too, making the role of a good counselor very important to your overall strategy.
Your child shouldn't feel abandoned — even if they're left at a substance abuse clinic, forced to separate from troubled peers and suddenly finding themselves experiencing symptoms of withdrawal and feelings of regret. They need support, no matter what, whether it's a counselor to chat with in the middle of the night or a shoulder to cry on following an intense argument.
It's tough being a teenager; however, it becomes painfully difficult when you feel like you keep messing everything up and nobody has any faith in you except for the friends you always get in trouble with.
A Long-Term Plan
Work closely with the professionals at the substance abuse clinic and the counselors to formulate a long-term plan for your child and family. Drugs and alcohol are too easy to go back to, especially when everything is so easily accessible. Your teen addict needs to find the right path, learn how to stay on it and make some new friends along the way.
Since relapse is always a possibility, your entire family should remain in touch with the strong sources of help and support you've found so far.
Through all of this, don't forget that you're in a dark place, too, as a parent. While you'll always put your child first, you may need help yourself to be in the best possible state to help them. Seek your own counseling and support system as you go to such lengths to rescue your teenager from the darkness of drug or alcohol abuse. Set priorities for your addicted teen, yourself and your entire family. Keep the support system in place indefinitely, just in case you need to call on it again in the future.
To learn more, contact a teen substance abuse clinic.