While I did go on to become addicted to drugs and alcohol, I found recovery. I now live a happy and successful life in spite of my history. Sadly, that isn’t the case for all teenagers who experiment.
Often when parents discover their child has taken drugs, they blame themselves punish their children. They have no idea what to do for the best. The reality is that there is no handbook for parents. A sentiment recently shared by mother Jennifer Howard, who sadly lost her son to an overdose in British Columbia. She said:
“There is no handbook for parents supporting a child with addictions and mental-health issues. You learn in the trenches and you come together,”.
She is amongst many advocates who are helping better support parents to deal with this conversation. The key for parents is to be prepared, to know that you are not alone in dealing with this issue, and that there is help available. You don’t have to feel powerless. You can educate yourself.
At home, it can make a big difference in your relationship with your children if you give them the freedom to follow their own path. No parent wants their child to harm themselves, or fall into trouble. The reality is that children will experiment—most parents did. But you can set healthy boundaries, which will allow them their own free expression. Boundaries you can set, once you are better informed having read the resources available.
Through experience, and the experience of other parents, scare tactics and threats rarely work. They may prevent your child from feeling like they can come to you for help. You want to keep lines of communication open, which provides a supportive network for them should they fall into trouble—especially if both parents are acting together. Teenagers—even though they may not show it—want to feel like they are heard and loved. Providing an open, non-judgmental environment will allow your child to feel it is safe to talk. It may also make the difference between your child coming to you for help and isolating; or leaving the home because they think you are unapproachable, and that they will be punished.
Sometimes teenagers step beyond experimentation and transition to misuse—a fear of every parent. But it is a reality for some. Know that if this happens to you, there is help out there. Waiting for your child to reach rock bottom can be disastrous though. Early intervention and human connection is far more effective in getting them the appropriate support and treatment. Support groups like SMART Recovery Family & Friends, and CRAFT (Community Reinforcement Approach & Family Training, have been proven to be more successful than letting a child figure it out on their own and cutting them off which is advocated in some groups. Further resources are available at Moms Stop the Harm and Overdose Awareness Day.
Writer and wellness advocate, Olivia Pennelle (Liv), is in long-term recovery. Liv passionately believes in a fluid and holistic approach to recovery. Her popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen is a resource for the journey toward health and wellness in recovery. For Liv, the kitchen represents the heart of the home: to eat, share, and love. You will find Liv featured amongst top recovery writers and bloggers, published on websites such as: Recovery.Org, The Fix, Intervene, Workit Health, iExhale, Sapling, Addiction Unscripted, Transformation is Real, Sanford House, Winward Way & Casa Capri.
Austin is known for its party culture—our teens face unique challenges. Come hear about substance abuse prevention, education and communication strategies, and get “street-wise” to what you need to know about raising a teen in Austin, TX. Gain a better understanding of the teen brain and how substances affect brain development. Receive tools, tips and gain knowledge from a panel of psychotherapists, counselors and substance abuse educators who will share how to support your teen in making wise choices and tapping their innate strength and resiliency.
When: Thursday, Nov. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Location: The Headwaters School Studio, 8th and Rio Grande
Cost: Free and open to all Austin parents of teens 14-19
Make sure and tell your friends about our WELLBbeings group: talks & community for parents of teens. They can visit our website atwww.WELLbeingsATX.org, join our mailing list or hop onto our Facebook Community Page.
We look forward to seeing you Nov. 16!
Warmly, Renee Trudeau (volunteer) and the WELLbeings Team