By the time a parent realizes they have a child with a drug and alcohol problem it is usually past the point of experimentation. There are exceptions, but in most cases a person who gets high doesn’t get caught until he or she gets sloppy. This is usually after the problem is firmly established. Often, these individual’s parents have been struggling for years to determine what went wrong, how it happened, and who or what is to blame.
First Things First
Enthusiastic sobriety programs firmly believe that until a young person is actually sober it is impossible to accurately identify what issues are behind the drug and alcohol abuse. Most people who choose to use and abuse chemicals have problems in need of resolution. The reality is that once a drug abuser is abstinent the drug problem is resolved. The issue is then maintenance of this sober life and resolution of the root troubles. Where most people fall apart is in the unwillingness to delve into the causes and conditions of the problem. When people try to attack the source (underlying issues) first, the chances for an individual to actually stay sober are very low. It requires a tremendous amount of patience to allow a young person in treatment the needed time to repair damaged relationships and atrophied coping mechanisms.
First of all it is vital to understand why people get high in the first place. It is not necessarily to escape reality or run away from feelings of discomfort. People abuse drugs and alcohol because it feels good. Escape and avoidance are by-products of substance abuse but are rarely the conscious motivator to begin using. The problem for people with drug and alcohol problems is that emotional maturation stops at the onset of habitual drug and alcohol abuse. Therefore in recovery actually staying soberhas to be priority number one. Not only that, the sober lifestyle must have pay-offs:
- it has to be fun
- it has to offer the opportunity for friendship
- the person in recovery must see a viable solution
Without abstinence an addict or alcoholic will not be able to deal with any underlying emotional issues. Counseling and therapy are important but should not take precedence over sobriety. Make sure the young person can wrap his or her head around the possibility of recovery. Fun, friends, and an improved life reach a teenager where he or she lives. Maturity will come in time.