Over the last couple of years, the suburbs of North Atlanta have been declared the “heroin triangle.” Many of you have heard the stories coming out of the local news stations concerning the alarming increase of tragic overdoses, the majority of which are adolescents and young adults from our own neighborhoods. If you have a high school or college age child, chances are great they know someone who has died from using drugs or alcohol in the past year. Any Google search on drug abuse will quickly get you up to speed on some pretty frightening facts about the rise in overdoses and deaths from opioids and other drugs, some even calling it a nationwide epidemic. Sadly, addiction is taking our suburban kids from us in massive numbers.
However, there is HOPE in helping our children get beyond heroin and other drugs. Armed with some knowledge and determination, you can guide them to the drug-free life they deserve. It’s more than possible. Every week I see brave families find the love, courage and resilience to help their children get sober and live happy, productive lives in recovery.
So what can you do to help your child if you suspect drug use or know that they are already addicted?
Arm Yourself with Facts
Some common signs of drug use would be significant changes in your child’s behavior, attitude, physical appearance or socializing with a different crowd. I also spent 10 minutes Googling the answers to such questions as: What are the signs of drug abuse in children? How can I talk to my child if I suspect they are using drugs? Who do I turn to for help with my child’s addiction? So much information from great sources came up on my cell phone screen.
Talk About It
It’s so important for you as a parent to have the courage to talk to your children about drug abuse regardless of their reluctance or resistance to broaching the subject. You know the talk you had with your children about the birds and the bees? Talking to your children about drugs and alcohol and persisting to help them is no less important.
Consult With Professionals
Many of the families that I talk to are at a loss of how to deal with the situation alone. You may have a family friend that has experienced something similar with a child. Spend some time researching providers that specialize in the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse. Make some calls and get some professionals involved that can answer your questions and guide you in the right direction.
Listen to Your Children
I cannot emphasize enough the power of listening. By this I mean truly listening to what they have to say even if you don’t agree with it, and allow them to feel that you hear and understand them. If you suspect your child could be using drugs and alcohol, open the dialogue. Asking and then open mindedly listening is the first thing I recommend that parents employ in their efforts.
No matter how huge the mountain seems at the moment, there is always hope. Take the time to become educated and find the courage to approach talking to your child in a way that is respectful and assertive. Remember that you are not alone in this experience, and be willing to reach out for the professional help that is available.
Dr. Joseph Kirkpatrick is an Addiction Specialist and Professional Interventionist who has been practicing in the mental health field for decades. He has helped countless individuals and families recover and heal from addiction and other mental disorders. For more information please visit his website at www.DoctorJFK.com.
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