09 Aug How Involved Should Parents Be in Their Child’s Detox Process?
The detox stage of recovery is extremely difficult for an addict, their family, and everyone involved. There are many intense emotions flying around, and not only from the person in recovery themselves. Detox is typically the hardest part of recovery for parents to watch, simply because their child is in immense physical and emotional pain, and their natural reaction is to do everything possible to comfort their child and make everything better.
While this might make sense on an emotional level, this reaction could potentially do more harm than good and enable the addict to fall back into using.
New Life House is here to help answer any questions you may have about how best to proceed on your child’s path to recovery, so please don’t hesitate to call us 888-357-7577 or email us at [email protected].
How Helping Can Be Harmful
For many addicts, manipulation is a tactic mastered very early on in the stages of addiction. If an addict knows the right heartstring to pull on at the right time, they may be able to swing their way into getting what they want one more time. Parents can easily be caught up in this cycle of enabling because just as parents know their children, children know their parents.
Enabling is the practice of either directly or indirectly allowing addictive behavior to continue via action, inaction, or the mindsets of those involved in an addict’s life. This is usually attributed to the parents or spouse of an addict. Enabling can take many different forms, but some examples include:
- Giving money directly to the addict
- Allowing drug or alcohol abuse to continue to placate the user
- Ignorance (willful or otherwise) to signs of addiction
- Decisions made based on empathy rather than logic
Parents of addicts can be particularly vulnerable to manipulation tactics during their child’s detox and can end up enabling them to continue using as a result. During detox, a certain sense of fight-or-flight thinking is enacted in an addict’s brain, and if they are not committed to getting sober, this is usually the time that they will pull out all of the stops in order to get what they want. Parents have even been known to source drugs for their children as a result of their begging or manipulation. Addicts can be very good at manipulating their loved ones to their will, and if you aren’t prepared for it you could potentially end up playing into it without even knowing.
What’s the Solution?
While the average parent has plenty of experience with caring for their child, they are probably not as experienced with the addiction recovery process. This is why a more hands-off approach to the detox process is typically beneficial for parents. Leaving your child in someone else’s care for an extended period of time, even when those people are trained medical professionals, can be an extremely scary process. But deep down, they know it is their child’s best chance of recovery.
Professionals in the field have had experience treating addicts from all walks of life, in all stages of recovery. They are far less likely to fall prey to the manipulation trap that most addicts set in the early days of sobriety. You as the parent may also be able to take some time and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your child is safe, while also allowing yourself to catch a break from the hectic environment that addiction can create around itself.
To be clear, this is not a recommendation for enacting a no-contact policy with your child during their detox process. In some cases that may be necessary or healthier for all involved, but usually parental involvement from a safe distance is a practical way to approach this period of recovery.
We at New Life House understand how difficult the detox process is for addicts and their families. We want to help bring all of you together in a way that is healthy and helpful for each individual.