As a parent, you always hope that your child will grow into a strong, independent adult. So when you young adult child begins abusing heroin, it's normal to feel complicated emotions ranging from worry, to self-doubt, to fear. Navigating life as a parent of a heroin addict can be extraordinarily challenging. Here are four tips to help you through.
1. Be Patient
Many parents initially assume that if they get their son or daughter into heroin addiction treatment, the nightmare will be over. But recovering from heroin addiction is a long process -- one that can sometimes take a lifetime. Your son or daughter needs to be ready to admit they have a problem before treatment will be effective. So, you need to be patient and understand that this may not be a problem you can fix right away. Rather, it will have to be one you slowly work at solving over time.
2. Seek Therapy Yourself
You're not the one with the drug addiction, so you may not think you need treatment. However, therapy can be incredibly helpful for parents of addicts, too. Just talking to a professional about your feelings a few times per month can help you get a handle on those feelings and approach them in a healthier way. Your therapist can also give you tips for dealing with your son or daughter in a healthy, productive manner, which will be better for the both of you.
3. Do Not Be Ashamed
So often, parents avoid telling friends and relatives what they are going through because they are ashamed that their child is an addict. But keeping closed-lipped and feeling self-conscious will just make the situation harder to handle. Talking openly about addiction may be hard at first, but in doing so, you are helping to erase some of the stigmas that goes along with addiction and makes it tough for addicts to seek treatment in the first place.
4. Help Your Son or Daughter Explore Treatment Options
If the addiction has been going on for a while, you may be tempted to just tell your son or daughter that they are on their own -- you don't want to see them until they've gotten treatment. However, this approach is not very kind or understanding, and it may drive your child away permanently. A better approach is to be ready with suggestions when your child is ready to seek treatment. Contact inpatient and outpatient facilities in your area to see what they offer, and present this information to your child when they are ready to listen.