The first thing parents need to understand is that the uncomfortable emotions they are going through, they are not going through alone. All other parents who admit their teenage children for chemical dependency go through similar emotions. As parents, they should come to terms with what is happening to their child and to them. While they are trying to understand, they will go through a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from anger to relief to guilt to doubt, etc.
The feeling that your child has lied to you and destroyed your trust through their active addiction will arouse feelings of anger. Once your child is in treatment you will have a sense of relief because help has arrived and you can finally stop struggling. Now you need not be constantly alert, looking out for the next crisis. At last, you now experience hope that your child will return to you, normal.
At this stage, you may even feel guilt - as you start questioning whether all this could have been avoided if you were a “better parent” or had recognized the signs earlier, or anything of the sort.
After admitting your child in a rehabilitation facility, you may start doubting your decision. Whether treatment was really necessary or if your child was really in a bad condition, etc.
Every parent whose child is in a facility goes through all these emotions at some point of the treatment or the other. Talking about these feelings to a member of the treatment team or another supportive person can be very helpful. Sharing these painful feelings is an important part of taking care of yourself and resolving the negative emotions that you may be experiencing.
As a parent, It is very crucial for you to support the treatment process while your child is in a treatment facility. Chemical dependency affects all parts of a person’s life. So in a facility, the team usually aims at providing different methods to help the person meet their physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs. They initiate various forms of therapy - individual counselling, group therapy, educational lectures and movies, reading and writing assignments and recreation. Parents need to understand that their child also will go through several stages when in recovery and they need to support them and the treatment team.
The child’s first response to being admitted in a facility will be denial. Denial is a defense mechanism that chemically depend people and their families develop unconsciously. By not admitting that there is even a problem they are trying to protect themselves from the pain caused by alcohol and other drug abuse. Denial always prevents the kind of action necessary to arrest or treat chemical dependency.
The first step of a treatment program is to usually make the patient take down their defenses and move from denial to acceptance. Only once the individual accepts that they have a problem, can they work on fixing it. Or take treatment for it. This is usually achieved through interventions sessions that involve the family.
Through counselling sessions and lectures, the person learns that chemical dependency is a primary disease which can be treated. If left untreated it can ruin their lives as well as of their family members.
Only accepting that they have a problem is not enough, addicts need to take action. They need to address the self-defeating attitudes and behaviours that they have developed as their disease progressed. The treatment team helps the addict to change these self defeating attitudes (also called character defects) into character assets.
Parents must also learn about their own negative coping mechanisms such as enabling. Just as you expect your child to change, you need to change too.
So that your family sheds its self-destructive behaviours and rebuilds trust and balance within the family system.
Hope Trust has a strong Family Support Program that runs concurrent to the treatment of the individual. It aims at empowering the family members while healing the damages caused by the addictive behavior of a family member.