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Archive for February, 2011
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4 Lessons I Learned About Confronting My Substance Abusing Teen
Thursday, February 24th, 2011

When I first discovered that my daughter was using marijuana and alcohol, I was blindsided. At first I tried approaching her as a concerned parent and when that didn’t work, I resorted to yelling, threatening, punishing and even having the police at the house to lecture her when she broke curfew.  No matter what I did, things kept getting worse. I finally realized that I was having about as much success as someone standing on a train track trying to stop a fast moving train.  That was the point when I became desperate enough to seek help from adolescent addiction professionals and also joined a support group for parents who were dealing with their children’s addiction. I thought I would feel shame when I reached out, but instead found understanding, support and a sense of renewed hope. Once I began to apply my newfound knowledge by communicating with my daughter differently, things began to change for the better.  Below are some valuable lessons that I learned. 

1)  Arguing with an addicted teen doesn’t work

Reacting to your teen only fuels the fire.  Addicts can be manipulative and they have an uncanny way of turning an issue back on you.  When you react and blow up, you take the focus off of them, and put it right back onto you.  Now it is all about your anger and you are the bad guy.  This gives them even more reason to use.  Reasoning with them doesn’t work either.  A teenage addict has a chemically altered mind that will rarely respond to reason. 

2)  Set Clear Boundaries and stick to them

Your teen should understand that using drugs and alcohol comes with specific consequences. But don’t make hollow threats or set rules that you cannot enforce. It is also important that your spouse agrees with the rules and is prepared to enforce them.  Standing as a united front as parents is crucial when you are fighting against a foreign substance that has taken over your child’s brain.  

3)  Arm Yourself with Support and Information

Learning to talk to my addict daughter was like learning a new language. My greatest teachers were my parent support group and the substance abuse counselors that partnered with me to intervene in my daughter’s addiction.  The internet is also a great tool.  I never would have been able to navigate my way though those difficult times without learning some new ways of communicating and applying them with the help of others.   

4)  Timing is everything

Perhaps your teen has been arrested or expelled from school or has been caught driving under the influence. You can use this as an opportunity to approach your child and convince them to enter treatment.  Don’t blow a good chance.  A crisis event can be an opportunity for parents to confront their child.  Facing real consequences can wake some teens up.  Any intervention, either formal or informal, is an attempt to convince an addict that they are at their bottom, and it is time to make a change.  The goal is to get your child to the place that they stop fighting for their addiction.  Going it alone however can be difficult.  Enlisting the intervention assistance of Adolescent Substance Abuse Professionals can dramatically increase the odds that your teen will become willing to accept help.

When the disease of addiction hit my family, it was like a tornado hitting our home from the inside out.  There were days when I felt like I was losing the battle.  Towards the end, my daughter had a full blown addiction to crystal meth. It was important for me to keep moving forward to keep building my arsenal of knowledge and expanding my circle of support.  Nothing changes if no one changes.  It had to start with me.

Posted by Karen Franklin  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Marijuana, Substance Abuse  /  Comments: 1

Rescuing Your Child Addict
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

A wise man once told me that if I spent my life making only new mistakes, my life was truly a life of learning.  I wasted a lot of time with my addict repeating mistakes that I had already made. Most of the time it was the result of being stuck in “rescue mode” – instead of finding alternative methods.  At the time, I didn’t recognize rescue mode as a method of parenting or a result of living with an addicted child.

Rescue mode is when you continuously work on things that will not accomplish anything. With most of us, this does not just apply to our addict; it applies to our own lives as well.

Operating in rescue mode means you will react to every emotion, crisis and incident of drama in both your life and your addict’s life. Rescue mode will consume you and every ounce of your energy. It’s also self-perpetuating. The more rescuing you do, the more you will find to rescue.

Think of all the people that make it their life’s mission and job to rescue: Firefighters, police officers, military specialists, lifeguards.  Not a single one of them attempts to rescue anyone without first understanding their boundaries.  Without clear boundaries, rescuers become those who need rescuing, too. This applies to parents of addicts as well.

It’s very complicated thing when you love your child with all your heart but you hate what they have become and what is happening to them right in front of your eyes. The first step to your survival and moving beyond rescue mode is to recognize that you are failing to detach with love

Detaching with love means understanding and buying into your own personal values and how they relate to the behavior you exhibit to your addict. This requires you to create the quiet time to really analyze what you believe about addiction and your child.  It may also require you to seek outside counsel from friends, counselors and other groups. However, even with all of the help, this is still a deeply personal task.

To detach with love requires a bit of selfish behavior. It also requires good boundaries. If you do not take the time to set good boundaries and understand exactly how your boundaries match your core values, you will never escape rescue mode.
Detaching with love doesn’t mean to stop loving or believing in your child. Nor does it mean walking away or washing your hands of the whole situation.

Detaching with love is difficult, but necessary if you wish to rescue your child. This is something  I struggle with daily, but it’s something that’s good for me and good for my son. If, as a parent, you want to do what’s best for your child — no matter how old he or she is and how much he or she may be struggling– you will work on this every day.

Wasted efforts and wasted time is the effort and time in which you learn nothing and in which you do not change yourself. It is a simple answer that becomes more complex with application. As with most things, the role these tips will play in the rescuing of your child will vary based on the family, the addict and the circumstances.

Posted by Ron Grover  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Enabling, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more


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