No one is exempt from losing a child to addiction. Good parents and so called bad parents have stood at the graveside of a beloved child and wondered what went wrong. Many of these parents did everything that they could to help their children. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the parenting manual that explains how parents can help their children get addiction treatment.
Too often the signs of addiction are explained away as typical teenage behavior. Fear of violating their children rights cause many parents to wait too long before confronting the issue head on. Many parents who suspect that their child may have a drug problem operate in a state of denial. A drug overdose is often the first time some parents come to grips with the extent of the problem.
In the 2011 Monitoring the Future Study released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse it indicated that although teens were smoking cigarettes and drinking less more were abusing marijuana and prescription drugs. Approximately 25% of children admitted to using drug while only about 4% of parents suspected that their child was doing so. The study showed that since 2010, abuse of opioids such as Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin and OxyContin have remained steady the last five years. The most alarming statistic that's spiking parental concerns is those who abused these prescription drugs were 19 times more likely to transition to heroin. In fact, the study also found that eight out of ten people who eventually started using heroin abused painkillers first.
The worst thing a parent can do when they suspect or have evidence that their child is abusing drugs is to ignore the issue or try to keep it a secret from others. As Nora Volkow, Director of the NIDA explains drug addiction is a serious relapsing disease that can, in people that are vulnerable, lead them to complete loss of control with severe catastrophic consequences. As such, taking the right steps in a timely manner may help to stop the progression of the disease and actually save the child's life.
So how can parents help their children get treatment for addiction?
While being prepared is an important factor in addressing drug addiction, delay could be fatal. Also, it is important for parents to feel supported during this time so identify family support programs or others that can help you to stay strong through this phase of your lives.