My kid is using drugs. What do I do?
When you first discover that your child is using drugs, your first reaction may be panic. You may be worried that they are at risk for overdose, disease, and injury. Another concern you may have is your child stealing from you or bringing drugs into your home. So, how can you find help right away to help your kid quit drugs?
Respect your child. Addiction does not mean that your child is mentally ill or a criminal.
While there are people who commit serious crimes and take drugs, most people who suffer from addiction are not criminals or bad people. Drug use can make a person appear to be mentally ill. Mental illness may be present, but it does not mean that there is anything wrong with your child. They likely have the potential to return to a healthy life and to be highly productive and happy. Using the wrong words can be hurtful and get in the way of successfully helping your child. You can start by not calling your kid names like “addict,” “drug addict,” “drunk,” “druggie,” or any other offensive name. You may have heard of tough love and how making your child feel bad about what they have done will help them to stop. It will not help. It will likely make things worse.
Be careful when searching for help online.
Google does an excellent job of preventing marketers from taking advantage of their search engine. However, addiction treatment marketers are among the most sophisticated on the planet. No matter what Google and other search engines do to protect their users, addiction call centers will find a way to get their message at the top of your search results.
What is a rehab call center?
When you search for help online for addiction treatment, you may find websites that provide what appears to be useful information. And, in many cases, the information may be legitimate and valuable. Yet, many sites that appear to be representing a specific rehab center actually turn out to be call centers that make money by collecting qualified leads to sell to the highest bidder.
What are the warning signs?
If a site has a prominent notice about what health insurance plans are accepted, and especially if they have a button to check if your insurance is eligible, this could be a red flag. A well placed 800 number may also be concerning. While legitimate rehab programs may also feature toll-free numbers and insurance notices on their sites, you should take care and ask questions.
What questions should I ask?
Ask about the specific name and location of the rehab before giving any personal information. Find out what kind of program they provide. What therapies do they offer? Will your child see a doctor of psychology? Will they see a psychiatrist? How many visits will they get with these doctors during their stay? Does the rehab support medical therapies for addiction treatment?
What medical therapies are available for treating addiction?
For opioid addiction, there are excellent medical therapies available. Medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder has a high success rate, and you should strongly consider this for your child. There is methadone treatment provided by specialized clinics. Buprenorphine, or Suboxone, therapy is provided in doctor’s offices and some rehabs. Naltrexone therapy is something you should ask about for both alcoholism and opioid addiction. Naltrexone is an affordable and non-controlled tablet that can help your child to stay clean and sober. While naltrexone is available in an expensive monthly injection, the pills work well. More rehabs should offer them as a part of long-term treatment.
Can talk therapy work instead of medication-assisted therapy?
When it comes to opioid addiction, specifically, medication-assisted treatment should be a priority over any talk therapy. Once your child has started medical treatment, however, talk therapy is an essential component of recovery. Is it best to see a psychiatrist, psychologist, or drug counselor? You will have to do some research to find the best therapist for your child, but consider those who have the best credentials. Look for a doctorate and experience in the field of treating addiction. Counselors with minimal training and a simple certificate are likely not the best candidates to provide therapy to your child.
Are 12-step meetings good?
12-step meetings, Such as AA and NA, can be useful. However, they are publicly available free services supported by user donations. These meetings provide support and can be helpful for your child in building a new network of friends who have dedicated themselves to staying clean. However, sometimes people at meetings can give poor advice, and there can be bad people at these 12-step meetings who your child should avoid. Consider going with your child to some meetings to make sure that they are in a safe environment. There are also meeting programs that are not 12-step. For example, there is LifeRing, Smart Recovery, Celebrate Recovery and more.
Again, what is the best first step to take in helping my kid to quit drugs?
Do not rush into making a decision. Do careful research into programs that you are considering. An excellent first step is to take your child to your family doctor for a checkup. Your doctor will likely have information on the best next step. Also, consider taking action in providing harm reduction. If your child is using opioids, keep Narcan in the house. Narcan is an overdose reversal rescue drug. If they are using needles, find a clean needle exchange program. Harm reduction does not mean that you are supporting your child’s drug use. It means that you want to keep them alive and safe.
What about legal help?
In some cases, you may want to consider forced rehab. While this can be unpleasant to think about, if your child’s life is in danger, getting them off the streets and into a safe environment can be critical. Some attorneys specialize in helping families get their children into rehab if necessary. For example, there is Mark Astor in South Florida who specializes in this field. He has worked with families all over the country in this regard.
Your child is not bad; they need your help.
Addiction is a difficult problem to overcome. However, it is possible, with your help, for your child to get past this stage of their life. They can get clean and sober. Most important is that you remain available to them at all times to provide support in their recovery.