Possibly the most heartbreaking event in a parent’s life is when they confirm that the odd and erratic behavior that their 25 year old son has been exhibiting, turns out to be one of their worst fears – substance abuse. Whether it is illicit drug abuse or alcohol, most parents start to notice a change in their adult child and begin to wonder if substance abuse might be at play. Once addiction is confirmed, the concern shifts from identifying the cause of the behavior to determining the solution.
Many parents look at their son, now using drugs or alcohol, and go one of two ways – either taking the strict route by starting to monitor their activities, screening friends, taking the door off the hinges or alternately following the route of (unwittingly) enabling them – thinking that by keeping them closer they are actually helping. Neither option is good; and both can push their son deeper into the throes of addiction. So, what can be done when a parent knows that their 25 year old son is addicted to substances of abuse?
First, is important to understand that addiction is a disease. It may have been a choice early on, but that choice is often made due to an underlying emptiness or need for fulfillment. The drugs of abuse fill this void and the body and mind crave it to ensure the pain is washed away. Of course, the pain comes back as the drugs wear off and the cycle repeats itself with your son requiring more and more of the drug or alcohol to get the same relief, or high. Understanding that this is truly a disease helps set the stage for better communication and a push toward recovery.
It will be very difficult, especially in the beginning, to understand that your son does not want to communicate honestly, or at all, about his addiction problem. He may shut down at any mention of addiction or substance abuse. He may reply to your constructive willingness to help with irrational responses and even anger. Communication will be difficult. However, you must keep at it and try to keep those lines of communication open. Try not to be judgmental and avoid threats. They serve no purpose to someone who is willing to lose everything for their addiction. Further, once they shut down, it becomes much more difficult to help.
Are your behaviors creating stress or anxiety in your child that is causing them to turn to substances? It’s unlikely that you are the only cause of their problems, but often, even with the best of intentions, our interactions with others can cause stress. This is true with parents, and especially those who are fighting their own mental health or substance abuse demons. Taking a close look within, and even seeking help for your own concerns, is a good way to start the healing process. You can even speak to your son and admit to your own shortcomings, which is a difficult, but excellent way to show your vulnerability and support during their difficult time.
Seek Professional Help
Unfortunately, when addiction has taken over, your own interventions become far more difficult and less likely to succeed. This is where professionals can help. Professional counselors, peer support specialists and even psychologists or psychiatrists have the experience to connect with your son in a way that you simply may not be able to. Many times, depending on the quantity and length of use, your son may need detox and/or inpatient drug or alcohol treatment. This is where choosing the appropriate rehab center becomes critical. Often times, substance abuse issues go hand-in-hand with mental health problems and having a treatment facility that can diagnose and treat both is critical.
If you have a 20 something-year-old son that requires professional help for an addiction or substance use disorder, give Destination Hope a call. Our admissions specialists, many of whom have experienced addiction firsthand themselves, can help you and your son understand the benefits of treatment, what to expect, what kind of cost may be involved and ultimately help them on the path to get clean and sober