How to intervene when your child has experimented with drugs

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Parents exert the most influence on their kids when it comes to alcohol and drugs. Recent research discovered that two out of three teenage kids who abstain from alcohol and drugs do so to avoid losing their parents’ respect. But what happens if a child has already begun to experiment with drugs or alcohol?

Before it’s too late, intervening might be your only option to reach out to your child and communicate the repercussions of his actions in an effective manner. If you decide to do so, it might be better for you to pause and think about how you will approach the issue.

The following tips may prove helpful:

  • Prepare yourself. Don’t blame yourself. This is not a healthy time to focus negative energy and emotions on yourself. Discuss with your partner about a possible course of action. Seeking guidance from other parents who have shared a similar experience or sought professional assistance may also be helpful.
  • Get educated about alcohol and drugs. You cannot base your intervention just on your own personal experiences or common sense. Providing family leadership in prevention requires you to be better educated. As you learn, share what you are learning with your spouse and kids. It’s also important to know what substance your child is taking and its effects.
  • “Condition.” Before you intervene, prepare your child for the upcoming discussion. A random light discussion on national drug abuse could be one example. Initiate any topic that will reach out and emotionally prepare your child for an intervention. They will more likely be able to accept and expect the change in family dynamics when they are not blindsided.
  • Create the right environment. Deciding when, where and how to bring up the issue of drug or alcohol abuse with your teen is crucial. It can easily be the deciding factor between a conversation that will change your teen’s life or one that makes matters worse. Avoid any discussions when the child is under the influence or in an unstable mood. Make them feel safe and secure.
  • Remain calm. No matter how worried or upset you are, remain calm. Yelling, screaming, striking and making redundant threats will only exacerbate the situation. The calmer you are, the more clearly you can think and communicate. Know what you are talking about when you talk with your child. Let him know of your unconditional love and support through it all.
  • Don’t hesitate to be the “bad” parent. Sometimes, our fear of a negative reaction keeps us from doing what is right. When it comes to alcohol and drugs, taking a tough stand can help children to say no.
  • Develop a game plan. There is no guarantee of the child being responsive to sitting down and discussing anything. They may get angry and defensive. Having a game plan and backup plan will have you better prepared for such a situation. Once your child does have a discussion with you, discuss a course of action that fully involves your child’s understanding and willingness to work through this situation.

White River Academy is a unique boarding school that provides residential treatment and care for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17. We offer guidance through a disciplined education program and promote values that support positive growth. If your child is struggling to regain control of his life towards a better future, contact us right away through our 24/7 helpline.

Written by Sana Ahmed.

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