Is there an immediate health or public safety risk (e.g., suicide, overdose, impaired driving, violent or threatening behaviour)?
Does the substance user admit to having a problem?
Do their friends or siblings think they have a problem?
Is the substance user willing to let you help him or her?
Do you have information on the effects of the drug(s) being used?
Is drug use related to self-medication (e.g., to cope with stress) or is use mainly recreational?
At what stage of change is the substance user?
Do you have support, both personal (e.g., family and friends) and professional (e.g., counselor, a family doctor)?
Do you have information on the types of resources available to you and your child?
Has the substance user been charged with a crime?
Stopping drug use often involves a significant amount of time and effort from both the user and their families. Don’t expect a quick fix.
Things You Can Do
Stay connected. Listen to your child and help them figure out why they’re using and what might help them stop.
Make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counselor to find out about treatment options (e.g., detox, drop-in counseling, day programs, Alanon, residential programs)
Take your child to an AA meeting, group therapy or drug and alcohol information session. Don’t be afraid to try several different groups or counselors before choosing one to attend or consult regularly.
Work with the child and counsellor to develop a plan. Listen to your teen’s feedback and be sure to have a backup plan (or two) in place.
Contact local agencies to find out about eligibility and wait-lists.
Be prepared for setbacks. Continue to reward healthy behaviour and encourage learning from mistakes.
Be careful to avoid enabling or facilitating problematic behaviour. Set clear agreed-upon rules.
Inform the school about your child’s problem.
If your child has been arrested, inform the judge and try to have treatment included in any probation order.
Your hopes can only come true if you take care of your own health. Make that a priority.
Relapses are very common – don’t expect an instant cure and be prepared to learn from mistakes.
Drugs suppress feelings of all kinds, so expect a roller coaster of emotions, including guilt, shame, anger, and fear about the past and future.
Many drug users will require a great deal of emotional support when they leave treatment programs.
Boredom is a very real problem for people who may not be in good enough shape to find employment or return to education.
Trying to return too quickly to a “normal” life can result in too much pressure for recovering drug users.
The process of recovery often involves eliminating many types of anti-social behaviour (e.g., lying, stealing, being aggressive) that were once important survival skills.
You and your child have probably experienced a great deal of stress and trauma related to substance use – this is always going to be a part of your relationship.
Relapse after long periods of abstinence can be dangerous for users because they may overdose more easily than when they were using drugs regularly.
Things You Can Do
Ensure the treatment program or drug counselor has a developed a comprehensive “after care” plan that includes ongoing meetings and support.
Have a strategy in place to deal with relapses.
Be careful about putting too much pressure on the former user – they are often quite fragile after leaving treatment.
Continue to support healthy behavior and be careful not to facilitate relapses (e.g., think carefully about alcohol and drug use on holidays and celebrations).
Be prepared for ongoing anxiety related to fear of your child relapsing.
For some people, abstinence may initially be unrealistic. However, reduced or controlled drug use, stable relationships and healthier behaviour are achievable goals for those not able to achieve complete abstinence.
Continue to maintain your connections with support groups for friends and family members of drug users.
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indirectly, by any person using such services.