Tips for Parents of Addicted Children | Child & Teen Drug Addiction (2023)

Tips for Parents of Addicted Children | Child & Teen Drug Addiction (1)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that nearly one out of every four 18-20-year-olds abused an illicit substance in the past month. Further, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) found that more than 20 million people in the US have a substance use disorder, 24 million people currently use illicit drugs, and 16.5 million people are heavy alcohol drinkers.

If your child is one of the millions of people struggling with drug abuse, you may feel sad, confused, and unsure where to look for help.

5 Tips for Parents of Those Struggling with Addiction

Included here is a list of the best tips for parents of addicted children to follow. By utilizing these strategies, you can provide your child with the stability and understanding needed to aid in their treatment and recovery.

1. Strengthen the Relationship

Someone struggling with addiction will often use deceitful tactics to secure and use more of the substance, regardless of the negative outcomes for themselves or others. These actions will significantly damage the relationship you have worked to build with them. You can combat this by working to strengthen and rebuild the relationship.

(Video) How Parents Can Support a Child Battling Addiction

A key way to accomplish this is through open and assertive communication. Good communication can help you catch problems early and react in appropriate ways. Assertive communication includes a balance of asking questions and actively listening to drive a productive conversation.

Examples of Open-Ended Questions

  • How can I help you today?
  • Why did you decide to start using drugs?
  • What would make you want to quit using?
  • What do you like and dislike about the idea of treatment?
  • What do you like and dislike about continuing to use the substance?
  • What activities would help you stay sober?
  • What are some ways todevelop healthy friendships?

The best types of questions will be open-ended and nonjudgmental. An open-ended question is one that cannot be answered with one word. Open-ended questions are helpful because they allow for increased communication and a better exchange of ideas. These questions have the goal of learning more information about your child and allowing them to express their concerns, struggles, and hopes.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has additional tips to improve communication with your addicted child. When communicating, try to:

  • Stay engaged and focused.
  • Display a sense of acceptance and understanding.
  • Be kind and respectful.
  • Reduce distractions.
  • Focus on the good.
  • Diminish negative reactions.

Being overly emotional is not a part of assertive communication. If you find yourself too upset, sarcastic, or irrational to manage your emotions, consider leaving the situation with a plan to return to the subject at another time. It’s very important to return to the conversation within a reasonable period — ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

2. Encourage Positive Behaviors and Treatment

When there is too much focus on the mistakes and poor decision-making of the child, they will have diminished confidence, lower self-esteem, and a decreased sense of personal power. These effects can lead to continued substance use. Instead,emphasize the positives and encourage desirable behaviors.

(Video) Lessons from the Child of an Addict | Emily Smith | TEDxErie

Using encouragement and optimism builds a sense of teamwork and cooperation while reducing conflict and negativity. This style will enable them to:

  • Try new healthy coping skills.
  • Engage in new activities.
  • Build more appropriate peer relationships.
  • Face challenges.

3. Create and Reinforce Consistent Guidelines

Establishing guidelines will set clear expectations for your child regarding acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Clear, consistent rules are related to improved outcomes with addiction. Not only will guidelines help your child, they will help determine your reactions to situations as they present.

Guidelines work best when they are developed in collaboration with your child. This way, all parties have a say regarding the consequences of their behaviors before the behavior is completed.

The best guidelines will read like a list of cause and effect statements — if (action) occurs (response) will be the consequence. Since it is concretely established, there will be no surprises later. Of course, it will be impossible to cover every contingency, but by establishing guidelines for the most common events, you can reduce the odds of emotionally fueled reactions that have less-than-productive outcomes.

No matter how strong your guidelines, poor consistency will render them ineffective. If your child has been driving under the influence and you take their keys in some situations but not others, you are reducing the efficacy of your guidelines. This inconsistency will diminish the relationship with your child as their respect for you decreases.

Tips for Parents of Addicted Children | Child & Teen Drug Addiction (2)Your child’s life is precious. Call to learn about treatment options.
All calls are confidential.

(Video) How Do You Really Keep Your Kids Safe From Addiction?

4. Set Clear Boundaries

Whereas guidelines are a set of rules based on behaviors, your boundaries are the things that you will and will not do for your child. They represent reasonable ways for people to treat you and for you to treat them. Those with drug addictions are notoriously good at testing the boundaries of those they love directly, or indirectly through manipulation. Set your boundaries during periods of calm when you can think rationally about what you will accept and what you won’t. This will help you avoid inconsistency during times when your boundaries are tested.

Set your boundaries during periods of calm when you can think rationally about what you will accept and what you won’t. This will help you avoid inconsistency during times when your boundaries are tested.

To build strong, clear boundaries with your child, consider the following questions:

  • Are you willing to lie for your child?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice your needs for the wants of your child?
  • What level of substance use are you willing to accept, if any?
  • How do you expect to be treated by your child?

5. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is the act of making your needs a priority and is a valuable tool for parents of addicted children. As you attempt to care for your child’s needs during long periods of turmoil, your stress grows towards burnout. Increased stress can present as a number of physical and mental health conditions like:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Reduced immune system (making you more prone to illness).
  • Obesity.
  • Memory and attention problems.
  • Heart disease.
  • Cancer.
  • Diabetes.
  • Arthritis.

Caring for yourself will actually aid in your ability to care for your child, because if you are experiencing unwanted effects from stress, you will be less competent in decision-making, consistency, and encouragement. Practicing appropriate self-care also allows you to model desirable behaviors for your child. You can lead by example.

In some situations, you cannot maintain your own health if your child’s actions continue without change. More restrictive boundaries and guidelines may be needed to improve your well-being, with terminating the relationship being an option to be considered in extreme circumstances.

(Video) Ex addict gives advice to parents

Drug Information and Education for Parents

When attempting to get your child into recovery from drug abuse, you need to be educated on addiction, the specific substance of abuse, and treatment options. If you lack the knowledge and expertise regarding addiction and your child’s drugs of abuse, you will not have the information necessary to assist them.

For example, someone abusing a stimulant substance will react in very different ways when they are under the influence compared to when they have ended a binge. Someone using a depressant substance will present very differently from someone under the influence of other drugs. By researching the signs and symptoms of the drug, you will be able to:

  • Note periods of use.
  • Note periods of abstinence.
  • Deliver appropriate consequences.
  • Reduce the risk of manipulation.

Another topic worthy of investigation is addiction itself. The way you view addiction will influence the way you view your child. The National Institute on Drug Abuse considers addiction to be a long-term condition marked by periods of relapse and recovery. In this way, it is not very different from other conditions like hypertension or diabetes. It also causes marked and predictable changes in the brain, meaning that drug use can be extremely difficult to stop for physiological reasons – it is not simply a moral failing. Realizing this enables you to have compassion for your child and helps reduce the stigma around your child’s addiction. De-stigmatizing your child’s addiction can raise her sense of self-worth and chances of maintaining long-term recovery.

Find Help Today

As a parent, caring for your child is the priority. If you are interested in learning about additional ways to help yourself or your child with addiction, call . Supportive treatment admissions specialists are available to help you find the care your child needs.

American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly if your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.


What advice to give someone who is addicted to drugs? ›

Offer specific examples of your loved one's drug-related behavior that have made you concerned—and be honest about your own feelings. Listen. Even when you don't agree with the person, take the time to listen to what they have to say, without trying to argue or contradict them.

What is the most effective way to deal with addiction? ›

5 action steps for quitting an addiction
  1. Set a quit date. ...
  2. Change your environment. ...
  3. Distract yourself. ...
  4. Review your past attempts at quitting. ...
  5. Create a support network. ...
  6. For more information on finding an effective path to recovery, check out Overcoming Addiction, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Jan 14, 2021

What can parents do to prevent drug abuse? ›

Parents Are Powerful

There is no guarantee that your child won't use drugs, but drug use is much less likely to happen if you: Provide guidance and clear rules about not using drugs. Spend time with your child. Do not use tobacco or other drugs yourself.

What are the 4 levels of addiction in order? ›

While there are many factors that contribute to drug and alcohol addiction, including genetic and environmental influences, socioeconomic status, and preexisting mental health conditions, most professionals within the field of addiction agree that there are four main stages of addiction: experimentation, regular use, ...

How do you overcome an addiction to someone? ›

How to heal from love addiction withdrawal
  1. sharing your feelings with a supportive friend.
  2. honoring your feelings with personal rituals around grief.
  3. focusing on things you like about yourself and your life.

How do you deal with someone who is under the influence of drugs? ›

Try to remain calm, and speak in a calm, clear, and slow voice to the person. Try to avoid emotional or hostile language, which may make the person more aggressive. Say the person's name, and tell them that you're there to help. For example, “I can see how upset and angry you are right now, [person's name].

What are three steps you can take to stay away from drugs? ›

Tips for Staying Drug-Free
  • Learn to Set SMART Goals. ...
  • Build Habits to Stay Busy. ...
  • Sweat it out. ...
  • Cut out toxic relationships. ...
  • Utilize support systems. ...
  • Practice positive self talk. ...
  • Adopt a pet. ...
  • Walk away from stress.

What are three options for drug abuse treatment? ›

There are many options that have been successful in treating drug addiction, including:
  • behavioral counseling.
  • medication.
  • medical devices and applications used to treat withdrawal symptoms or deliver skills training.
  • evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Jan 17, 2019

What is the primary cause of addiction? ›

Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person's likelihood of drug use and addiction. Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person's life to affect addiction risk.

What are 10 ways to say no to drugs? ›

How to Say No to Drugs and Alcohol
  1. Make an excuse.
  2. Use a little humor.
  3. Change the subject.
  4. Offer to be the designated driver.
  5. Act like you're too busy.
  6. Explain the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
  7. Be honest.
  8. Keep saying no.

How can we prevent and control drug abuse? ›

  1. study habits and academic support;
  2. communication;
  3. peer relationships;
  4. self-efficacy and assertiveness;
  5. drug resistance skills;
  6. reinforcement of anti-drug attitudes; and.
  7. strengthening of personal commitments against drug abuse.

What can parents and teachers help someone to avoid taking drugs? ›

Encouraging constructive use of time and participation in extracurricular activities; Encouraging reading for pleasure outside of school hours; Being a good listener. Modelling appropriate alcohol use behaviours at school events.

What are the 5 steps of addiction? ›

What Are the Five Stages of Change? The five stages of addiction recovery are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

What are the 7 steps of the cycle of addiction? ›

Understanding each stage and the behaviors associated with each is a valuable way to identify when someone is at risk for an addiction or has already developed one.
These seven stages are:
  • Initiation.
  • Experimentation.
  • Regular Usage.
  • Risky Usage.
  • Dependence.
  • Addiction.
  • Crisis/Treatment.

Which of the following are risks of drug abuse? ›

Seizures, stroke, mental confusion and brain damage. Lung disease. Problems with memory, attention and decision-making, which make daily living more difficult. Global effects of drugs on the body, such as breast development in men and increases in body temperature, which can lead to other health problems.

What do we call a person who is addicted to something? ›

The word addict is usually used to refer to someone who is addicted to drugs. Even good things can get you addicted.

How do I stop being addicted to girls? ›

List positive changes you want to make.
  1. Feel a new sense of freedom.
  2. Care about things besides sex and spend more time on things you love.
  3. Concentrate on forming deeper bonds with people.
  4. Repair your relationships.
  5. Feel proud about being able to overcome an addiction.

How do I get rid of an emotional addiction? ›

Have patience: Most people develop emotional addictions after decades, so it's unrealistic to expect instant change. Dedicate yourself to the process, but take breaks when needed. Re-programming how your brain responds to circumstances takes time. Keep your chin up and celebrate the small victories along the way.

How can you tell if someone is under the influence? ›

Some signs that someone may be under the influence of a drug include:
  • Enlarged pupils, bloodshot or glassy eyes.
  • Increased energy and confidence.
  • Loss of inhibitions.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Aggressive behaviour.
  • Trembling, twitches.
  • Paranoia (being extremely suspicious)

How would you handle a family member who is under the influence of alcohol? ›

Don't try to talk when either one of you is under the influence. Do protect yourself and others around you from physical harm. Do call police if there is violence. Do set limits that will protect your home, finances, and relationships and stick to those limits.

What are the causes and solutions of drug abuse? ›

There are several reasons why drug usage soon gets changed to drug abuse. At a very basic level this happens because the person concerned feels a desperate need to deal with stress, to get a momentary high or to just 'fit in' with his or her peers, as happens in the case of youngsters.

Which of the following are signs of drug abuse? ›

Physical warning signs of drug abuse
  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual.
  • Changes in appetite, sleep patterns, physical appearance.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing, or impaired coordination.

What is management of drug abuse? ›

Means 'reducing harm from drugs even more. important than reducing drug consumption'

What is a good treatment plan for substance abuse? ›

Planning Long-Term Care

Attending regular 12-step meetings or support groups. Continuing therapy sessions with a counselor. Taking prescription medications, including medication-assisted treatment for opioid and alcohol use disorders.

What is the difference between drug abuse and drug misuse? ›

How is drug misuse different from drug abuse? The key difference between a person who misuses drugs and a person who abuses drugs is their intent. The former takes a drug to treat a specific ailment, whereas the latter uses a drug to elicit certain feelings.

What are the five categories of drug treatment? ›

Here are the five main categories and some information about each:
  • Central nervous system depressants.
  • Central nervous system stimulants.
  • Opiates and Opiodes.
  • Hallucinogens.
  • Marijuana.

What are 5 causes of addiction? ›

Certain factors can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction:
  • Family history of addiction. Drug addiction is more common in some families and likely involves genetic predisposition. ...
  • Mental health disorder. ...
  • Peer pressure. ...
  • Lack of family involvement. ...
  • Early use. ...
  • Taking a highly addictive drug.

What are some examples of addictive behavior? ›

Certain behaviors can trigger the brain's reward system and become addictive.
Some of the most common types of behavioral addictions are:
  • Sex.
  • Gambling.
  • Internet.
  • Shopping.
  • Video games.
  • Plastic surgery.
  • Binge eating/food addiction.
  • Thrill-seeking activities.
Aug 16, 2021

How can you help yourself or others to say no to drugs? ›

How to Say No to Drugs
  1. Be direct and firm when saying “No” to the offer.
  2. Repeat yourself and insist on your decision (Stand your ground)
  3. Changing the topic (Malcolm can change the topic by saying, “I'm hungry. ...
  4. Remind the other party about the harmful effects of illegal drugs and substance abuse to reject the offer.

Why do we need to say no to drugs? ›

It not only impairs judgement, it diminishes motor skills and mobility. And drugs present a wide variety of health risks and dangers depending on which drug you are using. If you care about your health and fitness, just say NO to Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs.

What is the best solution to drug abuse and misuse? ›

Prevention is the best strategy. These prevention programs work to boost protective factors and eliminate or reduce risk factors for drug use. The programs are designed for various ages and can be used in individual or group settings, such as the school and home.

How do parents play a role in adolescence and the risk of substance abuse? ›

Youth are less likely to use addictive substances if their parents talk early and often about the risks, establish clear rules and consequences, and regularly monitor their activities. Active involvement and support of caring adults are both critical in the prevention of youth substance abuse.

What is the role of teacher in prevention of drug abuse? ›

Teachers can be role models for students and dissuade them from abusing drugs. This is all the more important if young people do not have supportive families to guide them. Young people may have to contend with the pressures associated with experimentation and with life in a complex and demanding society.

What are the causes of drug abuse among youth? ›

Top 5 Causes of Teen Drug Use
  • Peer Pressure. One of the main causes of teen drug use is the pressure they feel from friends and even family members.
  • Social Media. Many friends and family members show pictures of using substances on social media. ...
  • The Influence of Culture and Society. ...
  • Curiosity. ...
  • The Desire to be Themselves.
Feb 23, 2022

Which is the first step in treating a drug abuse problem? ›

While addiction treatment can vary according to the specific drug, a successful program often includes different elements, such as: Detoxification. Usually the first step is to purge your body of drugs and manage withdrawal symptoms. Behavioral counseling.

What is the first cycle of addiction? ›

The first step to addiction is trying the substance. It can be as fast as taking the first drink or smoking a cigarette. Or, people may have used drugs in the past without developing a dependency, but are now moving on to a more addictive substance.

What are the different types of drugs? ›

7 Drug Categories
  • (1) Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants. CNS depressants slow down the operations of the brain and the body. ...
  • (2) CNS Stimulants. ...
  • (3) Hallucinogens. ...
  • (4) Dissociative Anesthetics. ...
  • (5) Narcotic Analgesics. ...
  • (6) Inhalants. ...
  • (7) Cannabis.

What are the 4 elements of addiction? ›

Regardless of what the addiction is to, be it illicit drugs, prescription pills, alcohol, smoking or gambling, everyone who has an addiction struggles with the same four factors: craving, compulsion, control and consequences, also referred to as the 4Cs of addiction.

What are the 10 stages of addiction? ›

The 10 Stages of Relapse
  • Stage 1: Denial. ...
  • Stage 2: Avoidance and Defensive Behavior. ...
  • Stage 3: Crisis Building. ...
  • Stage 4: Immobilization. ...
  • Stage 5: Confusion and Overreaction. ...
  • Stage 6: Depression. ...
  • Stage 7: Behavioral Loss of Control. ...
  • Stage 8: Recognition of Loss of Control.

What are the 7 steps to recovery? ›

Recovering From Your Addiction in 7 Steps: Here's How
  1. Admit to your friends, and to yourself, that you have a problem. ...
  2. Find support from day one. ...
  3. Detox through your first days of sobriety. ...
  4. Rewrite your daily routine. ...
  5. Enjoy the small victories. ...
  6. Recognize and avoid relapse. ...
  7. Reach freedom, and stay there.
Oct 13, 2021

How can you help a friend who is already using drugs? ›

Here are some easy ways to help begin the process and get your friend the treatment they need.
  • Educate Yourself About Signs of Addiction. ...
  • Research Treatment Options for Your Friend. ...
  • What to Say To Someone Struggling With Addiction. ...
  • Offer Love and Support. ...
  • Group Intervention May be the Way to Go.
Jun 14, 2022

How will you help a person to avoid using gateway drugs? ›

Tips for Staying Drug-Free
  • Learn to Set SMART Goals. ...
  • Build Habits to Stay Busy. ...
  • Sweat it out. ...
  • Cut out toxic relationships. ...
  • Utilize support systems. ...
  • Practice positive self talk. ...
  • Adopt a pet. ...
  • Walk away from stress.


1. One Nation Overdosed: How Children Cope With A Parent's Addiction | NBC Nightly News
(NBC News)
2. The Impact of Addiction on a Family
(Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation)
3. Advice For Families Of Addicts -(How to help an addicted loved one)
(Put The Shovel Down)
4. Wasted: Exposing the Family Effect of Addiction | Sam Fowler | TEDxFurmanU
(TEDx Talks)
5. Intervention: How to Talk to a Family Member with an Addiction Part 1
(American Addiction Centers)
6. The dos and don’ts of helping a drug addict recover | Maia Szalavitz | Big Think
(Big Think)
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