There’s not much you can do to prepare yourself for the fear, anger and pain that accompanies learning your child has a drug or alcohol addiction. Substance abuse affects the whole family, and the best way to help your child get the help needed to recover is to thoroughly educate yourself.
The more you know about addiction, the better you can help your child come to terms with their addiction, find helpful resources, choose the right treatment program and become involved in your child’s treatment and aftercare in the most effective ways possible.
This 14-part series is designed to help provide you with the information you need to face this struggle and help your child and your family find the path to recovery.
Addiction is Chronic, and there Can be Relapse
Intense cravings contribute to the development of an addiction, and they also contribute to relapse once sobriety has been achieved. Conditioned learning is extremely powerful, and the brain changes associated with it are long-lasting, which is why recovery is a lifelong process; even after years of abstinence, it’s possible to lapse or relapse.
A lapse is an instance of using drugs or alcohol after a period of abstinence. A lapse can lead to a relapse of the addiction, which is characterized by returning to compulsive substance use despite negative consequences and despite wanting or trying to quit.
It’s important to understand that relapse isn’t the catastrophe it was once considered to be, and it doesn’t mean that treatment failed. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse stresses that relapse is the norm in recovery, rather than the exception.
Between 40 and 60 percent of people in recovery will relapse—similar to the relapse rates for diabetes and heart disease—and 70 to 90 percent will experience at least one mild to moderate lapse.
Relapse should be used as an opportunity to evaluate what coping skills are lacking and develop the skills and strategies necessary to prevent the same issues moving forward. Just as it takes time for the brain changes associated with addiction to develop, it takes time to develop a life of sobriety.
Addiction is Treatable
Addiction is a treatable disease that can be sent into remission through abstinence. A high-quality rehab program like the one Gracious Care has, will offer a holistic approach to treatment, drawing on best-practices protocol and utilizing various research-based therapies to address the highly complex issues behind drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.
Treatment is tailored to the individual and includes group, individual and family therapy, all of which are known to help improve the chances of successful long-term recovery.
After treatment, an aftercare plan is developed based on individual need and will typically include ongoing therapy, involvement in a peer support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and other programs and interventions as needed.
There is Always Hope
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence calls addiction a family disease. It indelibly affects everyone in the immediate family system, and family involvement in a loved one’s treatment and recovery has been shown to dramatically improve the chances of maintaining sobriety for the long-term.
If your child is addicted to drugs or alcohol, understand that recovery will be a long process that may last a lifetime. There will be challenges, and there will likely be setbacks. But as long as these are met with the healthy support of family and friends and your child responds to them in an emotionally healthy way, successful recovery is not only possible, but highly probable.
“When Your Child Has an Addiction” Continues
In the next entry in this series, learn about how to research treatment programs and the difference between inpatient and outpatient programs. Continued in “My Child Has an Addiction, Part 8: Selecting an Appropriate Treatment Center”.