Surveys have shown that most parents are tempted to say nothing, and hope that their child is only going through a phase. The fear of losing a child to something they do not understand, or are unable to control, is what keeps them in silent suffering. Only when the addiction comes to a head and manifests itself in the form of an arrest or a serious accident, or an unplanned pregnancy, do many parents finally step in. But by then it’s often too late.
It is for this reason that you should not think of your child’s drug use as a disease, but as a method he is using to try to solve his problems. Typical problems of young adults are: Difficulty learning in school or feeling stupid, having a hard time socializing and dealing with groups of people, feeling alone or afraid. Any of these things might be very tough to deal with and taking drugs or alcohol seems to make it easier. Although we all know (including the addict deep down), that using drugs or alcohol only masks and avoids the problems and is not a “solution” to his problems at all, but a much worse problem in itself.
It is in this manner you should approach your child. Treat the child like an adult and express your concerns in a calm manner. Communication is paramount – for parent and child – and this must start as soon as the problem is realized. A child in denial is a tough nut to crack, and all a parent can do is stand by the child, try to understand, and offer help.
Your child may try to convince you s/he can quit any time. He might also claim his friends are all doing it, or that it only happened once or twice. You, as a parent, will want to believe, but you must be strong without being authoritarian.
Only by staying close can a family come to terms with, and root out the problem of, addiction. It may take a drug rehabilitation program but family unity is of the utmost importance if the destructive cycle of drugs is to be beaten.