Parents of Teen Drug Addicts and Alcoholics Tell Other Parents What NOT To Do
By the time their children enter treatment for substance abuse, most parents have been through a long nightmare of constant worry and heartache. Other parents may fret about SAT scores and college choices these parents worry if their children will live to see their sixteenth birthdays.
What went wrong? What do parents regret the most? In long interviews with a dozen or so counselors who work in therapeutic boarding schools and wilderness programs, there were some answers. Although each familys situation is unique, nevertheless certain themes keep reoccurring.
I wanted to believe her so much is a constant theme. Often there is a long history of lying, even about small things. One parent put it this way, Id ask, Did you clean your room? and shed lie. Did you do your homework? shed lie. Will there be parents at the party? shed lie. Are you using drugs? shed lie. Im not a stupid or weak person I just wanted to believe her.
I allowed my teen to manipulate me. One single mother rued the fact that she had overly adored her son and allowed him to work her ever since he was little.
He knew how to pull my strings, she said. When he told me Drug tests would destroy the trust between us, I fell for that.
When parents finally own up to the fact they have been used and manipulated, they usually feel betrayed and angry. At that point, they can begin to work through old negativity and develop honest and open communication with their child.
I should have set stricter limits. Parents often regret that they allowed their teens to make too many of their own decisions about issues like marijuana, drinking, and sex. They may not have realized that their child was facing a totally different, more dangerous culture than the one of their own youths. They believed in giving children freedom and choices. Now they wish that they had given their child more direct guidance and specific information about the dangers of drug use. They wish they had set and enforced stricter limits
We let the problems in our marriage ruin our childs life. Parents often feel guilty that they did not understand how deeply their fighting was affecting their child. We were so preoccupied with our own problems that we neglected his, is a frequent theme. They often come to realize in therapy that their child was acting up to unite them.
If the couple is divorced, then they often believe their separation caused their childs problems. He didnt have a Dad at his soccer games or She did not have Mom to help her get ready for a prom are the kinds of things they bring up in therapy.
We spent too little time with our child when she was growing up. Parents often believe that they contributed to their childs problems by working too many hours, traveling or volunteering too often. They regret that they kept too busy to pay attention to what was happening to their child, and that they allowed things to reach a crisis level.
We let our childs situation become too desperate. Parents often regret that they didnt want to rock the boat. By not taking control of small problems, they allowed them to grow bigger. Often out of shame and embarrassment, they endured years of one bad event after another before getting help. Their child was in front of criminal courts, expelled from school, involved in car wrecks, ran away for weeks at a time or even dealed in drugs. These parents keep living the nightmare too long before seeking help.
The parents of teen alcoholics and drug users have heartbreaking stories to tell. No parent wants to believe that she raised a drug addict or alcoholic. Their emotions range from anger and betrayal to sorrow and powerlessness. It is hard to absorb the depth of their pain. However, their stories are worth repeating here if just one person reading this article recognizes his own situation and gets help.