Help A Child

First things first, the single most important thing you can do for your child is get them into treatment. Without treatment, the healing process can never begin.

A good place to start discussing treatment is with your child's pediatrician, who can recommend treatment options to you. If you contact your insurance provider, they can also provide a list of insured treatments. Another potential resource is your child's counselors or school administrators, who often see many children struggling and can help assist in finding treatment. Remember that it may be difficult to find the right treatment fit for you and your family. Finding the right treatment and the right therapist may require some trial-and-error.

Mother and Daughter Talking and Looking at Computer

There are also practical things you can do to improve your child's safety. If your child has suicidal thoughts, you should lock up firearms and prescriptions, or even move them out of the house.

If your child struggles with substances, ensure they cannot access alcohol or prescriptions. Check what your child is using your money for - teenagers often use their parents' funds to fuel substance misuse. A sad reality of substance misuse is that misusers may lie and even manipulate to get substances.

Did You Know

The Department of Health and Human Services provides a free youth screening service for all Montgomery County residents. All you have to do is call 240-777-1430 and set up an appointment.

Our team of licensed therapists will meet with your child and examine their substance use and/or mental health, and then make treatment recommendations for you.

African American mother and daughter talking

Communication is key. Asking about your child's life and their feelings can build a bridge between you two. Unfortunately many parents struggle to communicate with their children. One way to build communication is to practice empathy. You may not always understand your teen's thoughts and actions, but you can still empathize with their feelings. For example, you can empathize with feeling uncomfortable socially and wanting to calm down without condoning substance use as a way to relax.

Empathize before you try to problem-solve. You can suggest your teen go to treatment when they come to you with negative feelings, but you should empathize with their feelings first. To empathize better, read "Understanding Substance Misuse" and "Understanding Suicide".

Find acceptance. Some parents experience guilt or shame if their child becomes depressed or uses drugs. Be careful to notice these feelings. Remind yourself that you are not at fault for your child's sickness. When bad things happen, it's in our nature to look for someone to blame, but the truth is there are so many factors impacting these issues, and you can't control someone else's actions.

African American father and son

As a parent of someone misusing substances, you probably have many fears and concerns. You might be angry your teen is acting this way.

It's important to keep in mind that teens who misuse substances don't do it to hurt their parents. They do it because they're in pain and they want relief. They may not have accepted the reality of their addiction. They might have convinced themselves that adults are simply too protective in order to protect their substance use. They're experiencing a disease that affects millions of people - addiction - and they need help.

Don't give up on your child. With enough time and effort, many recover from substance abuse and lead happy, healthy lives. Show them love and compassion. Participate in all family components of any treatment you might pursue. Talk with their healthcare providers about the best ways to keep your child safe.