As they grow up, our daughters are the lights of our lives. However, we can’t control everything. One of the hardest realizations that a parent may have to rationalize is that their little girl, that seemed to have it all together, can grow up to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. Of course, the critical part of this is to make sure we identify and address the substance abuse or addiction issue early. This offers the greatest chance for recovery with the fewest long-term or permanent effects. Regardless, however, it may take time for parents to realize that there is a substance-abuse problem, even if many of the signs are clear to a professional.
Women are very different from their male counterparts and must receive individualized care. These women may also have co-occurring mental health concerns, just as men do, that can complicate the treatment of the disease of addiction. These emotional and psychological disorders need to be identified and managed appropriately for the best possible result. Further, women have a higher incidence of a traumatic experiences. Sexual and domestic violence are more common in women and require specialized trauma informed care on the part of the treatment facility.
Sadly, a woman is very adept at hiding both her emotional and physical struggles with addiction and mental health. This is true for most high functioning addicts, who have become accustomed to hiding their problem from the rest of the world.
So as a Parent, What Do You Do?
Of course, the health of your daughter, even as a young adult, is of paramount concern. And ignoring the issue will not make it go away. As such, you can’t bury your head in the sand and hope that her problems are not due to addiction or mental health issues. If she is exhibiting the signs of addiction, trauma or mental illness, it is important that you accept this and begin to work towards seeking help.
Communication is critically important to getting your daughter back on the right track. The first inclination is to create an incredibly strict environment in which, you think, no drug use is possible. But this rarely works and only serves to push your daughter further away. Instead, understand that addiction is a disease, just like mental illness, and it must be treated seriously and with professional care. This empathy is an important way to keep the lines of communication open and maintain a trusting relationship, which will be important when getting your daughter into a drug or alcohol treatment program.
You may also need to take a long and hard look within yourself. Addiction and mental illness have multi factorial causes and your actions or inactions throughout her life may have contributed, even if you had the best of intentions. It’s hard to hear but seeking professional help for yourself can go a long way in showing your daughter that you truly are trying to help her heal as well. It can also be enlightening and help you address a substance abuse or mental health problem more effectively.
However, in the end, it is professional help that will bring your daughter back from her addictive behavior and get her on the path to sobriety. This help comes in many forms, but women who have complex multi factorial problems – co-occurring disorders or dual diagnoses – need professional help the likes of which we offer here Destination Hope and at our specialized mental health and substance abuse treatment center.
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- 7 Habits of Highly Successful Women in Recovery