My Child Has a Problem with Drugs

As a parent, it is your role to take care of your child. But, when your teen or adult child is addicted to drugs, most likely the best you can do is to guide them to a solution.  If your loved one wants to get clean and sober, then help them get into a rehab. But what if you are not sure they are addicted to drugs …or what if they don’t want help…

If your teen or adult child starts behaving differently for no apparent reason––such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile—it could be a sign he or she is developing a drug-related problem. Parents and others may overlook such signs, believing them to be a normal part of the growing up process.

Through scientific advances, we know more than ever before about how drugs work in the brain. We also know that addiction can be successfully treated to help  people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives. Jump in early when you first spot signs of drug use.

Why can’t some people stop using drugs on their own?

Repeated drug use changes the brain. Brain-imaging studies of people with drug addictions show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning, memory and behavior control. Quitting is difficult, even for those who feel ready.

If my child refuses to cooperate, should the family conduct an intervention?

People of all ages with substance use disorders live in fear of what will happen if their drugs are taken away. You can ensure your loved-one that professional treatment centers will keep them safe and as comfortable as possible – especially if a detoxification process is needed.  Be sure to let them know that family and loved ones will stand by and offer loving support. Warning: addicts commonly “change their mind” after a few days of treatment.  Parents should pay no attention to this. It is just the disease talking.

Addiction help parents
Parent Toll-Free Help Line
A parent specialist from The Partnership at is here to help – in English or Spanish – Monday through Friday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm ET
1-855-DRUGFREE or 1-855-378-4373

What do I look for in a treatment center for this age group?

Treatment approaches must be tailored to address each patient’s substance abuse patterns and related medical, psychiatric, and social problems. Some treatment centers offer outpatient treatment programs.  However, most people do better in inpatient (residential) treatment. An addiction specialist can advise you about your best options

How do we keep things stable in the meanwhile?

First, talk to your loved one. There are ways to have a conversation about drugs or other sensitive issues that will prevent a fight. Acknowledge your child’s opinions but know that many people with substance abuse problems are afraid and ashamed and might not  tell the truth. This is why it is important to involve medical professionals who have experience working with people struggling with substance abuse issues.

I have heard that people who use drugs could be “self-medicating” because they feel depressed – How do we handle that problem as well?

It is very possible your child needs to find treatment for both depression and addiction. This is very common. It is called “comorbidity” or “co-ocurrence” when you have more than one health problem at the same time.  Parents should encourage their children to tell all of their health care providers about all of  their symptoms and behaviors.  There are many non-addictive drugs that can help with depression or other mental health issues. Sometimes doctors do not communicate with each other. So, make sure all relevant  health care providers know about all of your child’s  health issues. Your child should be treated for all health issues at the same time. If your child ever feels so depressed that you think he or she will hurt themselves there is a hotline you or your child can call. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number is  1-800-273-TALK (8255.)  You are also welcome to call it to discuss your child’s symptoms and get advice on how to best handle the situation.

Resources for parents with children suffering from addiction.

My child’s addiction is making my life unmanageable. What now?

Take care of yourself, as a parent! Ask yourself the following questions and answer them as honestly as you can:

  1. Do you find yourself making excuses, lying or covering up for your child/spouse/friend?
  2. Do you have reason not to trust your child/spouse/friend?
  3. Is it becoming difficult to believe his/her explanations?
  4. Do you lie awake worrying about him/her?
  5. Is he/she missing school/work often, without your knowledge?
  6. Is your spouse missing work and the bills piling up?
  7. Are the savings mysteriously disappearing’?
  8. Are the unanswered questions causing hostility and undermining your marriage’?
  9. Are you asking yourself, “What’s wrong?” and “Is it my fault?”
  10. Are your suspicions turning you into a detective, and are you afraid of what you may find?
  11. Are normal family disagreements becoming hostile and violent?
  12. Are you cancelling your social functions with vague excuses’?
  13. Are you becoming increasingly reluctant to invite friends to your home?
  14. Is concern for your spouse, child or friend causing you headaches, a knotty stomach, anxiety?
  15. Is concern for your spouse, child or friend easily irritated by minute matters? Does your life seem a nightmare’?
  16. Are you unable to discuss the situation with friends or relatives because of embarrassment?
  17. Are your attempts at control frustrating?
  18. Do you over compensate and try not to make waves?
  19. Do you keep trying to make things better and nothing helps?
  20. Are the life style and friends of the loved one changing? Do you ever think that they may be using drugs?

If you have answered “YES” to four or more of these questions, Counseling, Al-Anon, NAR-ANON or Therapy may be able to assist you with the answers that you are looking for.
Our 800RecoveryHub site offers free and confidential help

11 thoughts on “My Child Has a Problem with Drugs

  1. This post covers so many important aspects of kids and drug use. Not so long ago, I was the parent asking these questions and searching for answers and resources. In particular, I appreciate the questionnaire and suggestions for parents on what to do for themselves. It often takes a long time before a kid is ready and willing to stop drug use – it did for us. In time, however, when your kid is ready, they will accept help. Thanks for an informative post that I wish I had read at the start of our family’s journey; that’s why posts like yours are so important.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Our Young Addicts and commented:
    Here’s a post I wish had been around when our son started using drugs. This is informative and realistic. In particular, check out the questions for parents and the suggestions it offers. One of the hardest things for us was recognizing our son’s drug problem long before he was ready to admit it let alone accept help. In time, however, he successfully completed treatment (not the first couple of times) and has embraced sobriety and recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on #Uniteforsupport and commented:
    If you are like me and are living the life of addiction and your not an addict, then this is a MUST READ. I can not stress enough the importance of awareness and support. I spent the first two years battling my son’s addiction without any help and it is hell. Embarrassment, shame, not wanting your child to be judged, shock and fear are all excuses to hide from the reality of addiction, only this disease knows no race, gender, status or age and can happen to the best of us. We need to accept what is happening, stand up for our loved ones and take any action we can to prevent their lives from being cut short. Remember, if WE are embarrassed, struggling and unsure of what to do….how do you think they feel?! Open your hearts to them and help guide them….it’s our only defense. This post is EVERYTHING I wish I read at the start of my family’s descend into hell. This post may be exactly what you need to read in order to help yourself or someone you know struggling with this horrible disease

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had a friend in high school that suffered from a drug addiction. It was a touchy subject, but I like your tip about being able to have the right conversation with them. You’re right, showing love and support is really helpful. I’ll be sure to keep your tips in mind if I face this with other kids in the future.


  5. This is such a heart-breaking thing to have to hear or witness. I remember coming across those who were addicted. Like it is said in the article, the use of them can affect the mind and how it responds in decision-making, learning, etc. Having also been involve in programs to help drug addicted children or troubled youth, this article would prove beneficial to those seeking help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you liked the information. I went over to your website. You have some awesome blog articles. The Rave Party and Addiction connection piece is very timely. I went ahead and signed up for your newsletter.


  6. I really don’t know what I would do if I found that my kid was abusing drugs. I would definitely get him help and make sure that we were able to get clean and off them as soon as possible. I had a number of friends that abused drugs in high school and I saw so many outcomes from that. Some were taken to get help and others were just punished severely. I think that the ones that were taken in were better off because they got to learn how to get off the drugs and the reasons why they shouldn’t use at all.


  7. I didn’t know that drugs had so much effect on the brain. My boyfriends dad has been addicted for almost 15 years, and my boyfriend hasn’t been able to figure out why he won’t stop. I will have to tell him that drugs change the brain that drastically. Thanks for sharing!


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