Substance use disorder can be a difficult and overwhelming experience, not just for the individual struggling with it, but also for their loved ones. As a parent of a child with a substance use disorder, it can be particularly challenging to talk to them about getting help and entering treatment. You may worry about how they will react, or whether they will be receptive to your suggestions. However, having an open and honest conversation about treatment is a crucial step towards your child’s recovery. 

Discover practical tips and advice on how to talk to your child about treatment and learn how to approach this tough conversation with confidence and compassion to help your child take the first step towards a healthier and happier life.

Prepare for the conversation

  • Plan and time the conversation. Choose a time when your child is sober, alert, and able to have a thoughtful conversation. Avoid discussing treatment when they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Plan to have the conversation in a private, calm, and comfortable setting where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Know how to regulate your emotions. It’s natural to feel anxious, scared, or frustrated when talking to your child about their substance use disorder and treatment. Your child will be more likely to listen and engage in the conversation if they feel that you are coming from a place of love and concern.
  • Set a positive, open, compassionate tone. Start the conversation by expressing love and concern for your child. You may want to begin by saying something like, “I love you and I’m worried about you,” because it sets the tone for a compassionate and supportive conversation — and helps your child understand that you are not judging or blaming them.

Choose the right words

The language you use when talking to your child about treatment can greatly impact their response and willingness to engage in the conversation. Some tips on choosing the right words include:

  • Avoiding judgmental or accusatory language. Using accusatory or judgmental language can put your child on the defensive. Instead of saying, “You need to go to rehab because you’re ruining your life,” opt for a compassionate statement that prioritizes their well-being, like, “I’m concerned about your health and well-being, and I think treatment could help.”
  • Using “I” statements to express concern and feelings. “I” statements can help you express your concerns in a non-confrontational way. Stating “I’m struggling to understand what you’re going through, but I want to help in any way I can,” shares how their substance use disorder affects you and your emotions without centric the discussion on yourself.
  • Framing treatment as a positive step towards recovery. Treatment can be a daunting prospect for someone struggling with a substance use disorder. Frame it as a positive step towards recovery by highlighting the benefits of treatment, such as regaining control of their life, rebuilding relationships, and improving their overall health and well-being.

Discuss treatment options

Once you have laid the groundwork for a productive conversation about treatment, it’s time to discuss the different options available to your child.

Provide information on different types of treatment

There are many different types of treatment available, including inpatient rehab, outpatient therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. It’s important to provide your child with information on all of these options so they can make an informed decision about what’s right for them.

Encourage your child to take an active role in the decision-making process

Recovery is a journey that requires active participation and commitment from the individual struggling with addiction. Encourage your child to take an active role in the decision-making process by asking them what they think would work best for them and what concerns they may have.

Address potential barriers to treatment and discuss solutions

Your child may have concerns or reservations about entering treatment, such as cost, stigma, or fear of withdrawal symptoms. Address these concerns and discuss potential solutions, such as insurance coverage, assistance programs, or medically supervised detox.

By discussing treatment options and encouraging your child to take an active role in the decision-making process, you can help them feel more invested in their recovery and more confident in their ability to overcome addiction.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Check out our other blogs to learn more about parenting today.

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