Why you shouldn’t punish your addicted child.
It’s a bad dream you wish you could just wake up from. Unfortunately, for parents dealing with addicted kids, it’s a nightmare reality where pinching yourself doesn’t help you escape. It’s a cold, hard truth. Your loved one is abusing drugs and/or alcohol.
So, what do you do? When your young ones acted up in the past, taking things away from them might have taught them a lesson. Shoot, you remember how sending them up to their room or grounding them for periods of time would do the trick. It worked for talking back. It worked for bad grades. It worked for sneaking out of the house, even. But, will punishment work to help get a child who’s abusing substances back on the right track? The answer is a definite ‘NO!’
You’re understandably frustrated by the time you realize your child is dealing with addiction. You’re hurt by all of the lies and the excuses and you just want them to get better, so it’s to be expected that you might think punishing them will work. This mindset ignores the one underlying issue with addiction: it’s not a choice. It’s a disease that affects both brain and behavior. You wouldn’t punish your kids for being diagnosed with other diseases; you’d want to help them. The same should be true here. The act of helping your child deal with their addiction can be missed when you’re simply focused on punishing them for the behavior.
Where To Turn
Now you’ve come to the realization that your young one is sick, you need to know where to go for help. There are lots of online resources to help you find facilities close to you that are best suited for your child’s problem. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website is a great resource to help locate a treatment center, amongst many other government-funded resources.
An important thing to remember is you might need to get some help for yourself, too. You could talk to your priest, rabbi or other clergy members or you can seek out local support groups and/or online support forums. Treatment centers often have family programming in place to educate and support loved ones.
Remind Them You Care
Once you’ve found a treatment facility that you feel comfortable with, you can let the professionals concentrate on the illness aspect while you go back to what you’re comfortable with - being a parent, again. Your kids have always known that you love them and, deep down inside, they know it now. Now they need you more than ever. So, remember to show them that you care.
Tell them “I love you” often. Even to older kids, a parent’s love can be extremely comforting.
Do your very best not to criticize. You can describe the way you are feeling without ‘putting them down.’
Listen to them. Whenever they are ready to talk, give them your undivided attention and make every attempt not to interrupt.
Concentrate on learning about addiction and getting better together. Make an effort to zero in on the ‘why’ not just the ‘what to do’ or ‘what not to do.’
Most importantly, take care of yourself. The best thing you can do for your child struggling with addiction and any other children in the family, is to be healthy and strong.