Drugs have always been destructive and potentially deadly, but the introduction of fentanyl in the last few years has exponentially increased a person’s chances of overdose and death. Dealers use illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid about a hundred times more potent than morphine, to enhance the highs in existing drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth. And unfortunately for our kids, these drug modifications have a staggering human price tag.
Fentanyl-laced drugs kill around 175 young people – roughly 8 per minute – every day. In December of 2021, the Centers for Disease Control released data from 2020 and 2021 that showed Fentanyl poisoning as the number one single leading cause of death for people ages 18 to 45 nationwide. If you suspect your child has a substance use disorder, the time to intervene is now. Our SLC drug rehab counselors here at Renaissance Ranch suggest taking these five steps to get the process started:
1. Educate Yourself
Learn as much as you can about addiction, detox, withdrawal, and recovery. You can talk to professionals at an addiction recovery center or other substance abuse rehab facility in your area or attend an addiction family support meeting. If you have close friends who have struggled with addiction, you could ask them for help and advice. Additionally, dig into books, articles, and other reputable resources for information.
We believe that appropriate family involvement is critical to lasting addiction recovery here at Renaissance Ranch. Our free family education classes, hosted both in-person and online, give parents and other family members the tools to help themselves and their loved ones move together through the recovery process.
2. Start a Conversation, Not a Confrontation
As parents, it’s in our nature to do anything we can to protect our children, even if that means putting limits on them. But as they grow into the age of legal maturity, they alone carry the responsibility for their choices. They do not want us to force our will on them, just as we cannot spare them the consequences of their decisions. Having said that, there is a lot we can do.
Pick a private place and give yourself and your child adequate time to have a substantive conversation. Let them know that you love them and are concerned about changes you have seen in their behavior and temperament. Ask specific questions to learn more about how and why they are using, and then listen to what they have to say without shaming them or passing judgment. Once you know more from them, talk about the risks associated with their habit and offer them your complete support in helping them to stop.
There is always a good chance your child will deny addiction and refuse any help. Stay calm, keep your emotions in check, and don’t give up. Let them know you are aware of a problem and that you will be there for them when they’re ready. You’re likely not the only one worried about your child. If others they love and trust see the problem as well, you might want to encourage them to talk with your child separately.
3. Realize You Can’t Change the Past
Too many parents start playing the “what if” game when their son or daughter develops a substance use disorder. “What if I had said something else on this occasion,” or “What if I had done this differently.”
We cannot go back and fix all of our mistakes as parents, nor can we undo painful decisions our children have made on their own. Both are futile exercises that sap time and emotional energy and yield nothing. By staying in the present – in both how we communicate with our child and how we react to tense situations – we will do our children and ourselves the most good.
4. Be Prepared with Treatment Options
If your child is in the throes of addiction, they’re likely not thinking clearly enough to know where to get help, even if they desperately want it. This is where you can make a big difference by being armed with critical care information and ready to act.
It’s a good idea to have a narrowed-down list of treatment options that will fit your child’s needs and your budget. Your local community likely has a host of state, county, and private resources, including mental health therapy, 12-Step programs, drug rehab facilities, support groups, and crisis centers. You also can talk with your primary doctor and ask them who they recommend for drug rehab services. Finally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website contains a vast amount of helpful information on where to find critical drug rehab and mental health services all over the nation.
Narrow down your list of facilities and programs by asking lots of questions, such as what are their care philosophies and treatment modalities, are they accredited, and do they take your insurance. You also might want to talk to a center’s counselors or 12-Step group leaders to get a feel for who they are and how your child might interact with them.
5. Never Stop Loving Them
To be clear, your child is not their addiction. Addiction is a disease like any other that has taken over their lives. It’s ok to be angry and frustrated at the illness and its effect on them. At the same time, it’s also ok to set boundaries and not buy into the notion that loving and supporting them means you have to take on the consequences of their actions.
Truly loving someone with the disease of addiction means that you will do whatever you can to support their recovery journey and that you won’t give up on them, no matter how many times they slip up or relapse. It doesn’t mean making excuses for your child’s bad behavior, lying or covering for them, taking over their responsibilities, or giving them money. That enabling allows your loved one to escape consequences. Though bitter, these consequences might motivate your child to take control of their addiction.
The news on drug abuse and death can be overwhelming and frightening, especially when it hits so close to home. But don’t despair. There is a great deal of help and support out there for you and your child, from private therapists to addiction recovery centers.
For additional recovery information, stay tuned to our blog or contact one of our Utah alcohol detox center counselors directly at (855) 736-7262.