Parenting can be, in many ways, quite a solitary existence. We see other parents at birthday parties and don't engage them in conversation. But other parents are close-knit, ask each other for advice, but underneath it all, there can be private struggles. Addiction is one of those things that are commonplace, in households, but when it's a parent, there can be a whole plethora of issues underlying it. Perhaps you are a parent and you see someone you know going through difficulties, but what can you do if you see someone on this parent trap? How can you help them overcome this? Or can you?
Be careful not to jump the gun
Some parents feel the need to come right out and explain what the problem is. The big issue with this is when we are brutally honest, this can burn bridges. There's no point in going to someone to tell them that they need to visit an outpatient drug rehab center right off the bat! It's part of crucial treatment throughout the course of an addiction, but it's not your position to go telling them what they need to do. It's important to give it time, and this means we have to observe. Once you do this, you can begin to see what's going on, but also, remember your own perspective of the situation. If you jump the gun, you might have been making decisions a bit too harshly. It's at this point that if you observe certain behaviors, this can, after a while, be the springboard to tell them that they need to do something. But before we get to this point, there's something incredibly crucial to establishing the right relationship so you can be honest with them…
If we see someone in a position where they are hurting their family members emotionally or even physically, if we are to make any significant progression with them, we've got to establish their trust. Perhaps they are a close friend, in which case, the trust may already be there. But we can't take this for granted. It's important to remember that when it comes to establishing trust, communication is crucial. Trust is something that can take a long time to get right, but you can lose it quickly. Establishing trust is all about playing the long game. Ultimately, we have to remember that we may not have an overriding influence, but if we can get to the point where they trust us, then they may actually listen to us. Trust is crucial, but we have to remember that establishing it can take a long time.
The importance of communication and doing it right
We cannot force them to change, but if we are communicating our thoughts and fears, after we've acquired their trust, then you may be able to put the message across. Communicating our worries is important, but sometimes, if with someone that's not within the family, even if we're close friends, it could fall on deaf ears. That means you’ve got to find the right time and this could be through the course of an intervention, but as well, think about how you do it. You don't want them to feel like they are backed into a corner, so if you think about communicating it from the perspective of a concerned family member, this could help put the message across. Sometimes, we do it from our own perspective and go on experience, and this could force the person to confront their issues.
Respecting their privacy
When we have done everything we can to put forward our fears, it's up to them. They have to admit that they have a problem, and this can take a long time. But at this point, whether they need to go into treatment or not, we've got to remember that it's their problem to solve, and not ours. We can certainly help by recommending the different types of counseling or treatment methods, but we have to remember our place. We are concerned, and we do it as a friend or someone that really cares about them, but at this point, it's all down to them. Respecting their privacy at this point means that you may not hear from them for a while, and they've got their own issues to work through. Ultimately it's about them being a better parent and a better person.
Helping them back
Addiction isn't about a cure, it's certainly something that can result in relapse and when we see them out the other sides, we can do everything we can to help them back into normality. Because they may decide that their lifestyle needs a major alteration, you've got to be there to see them through. This is a long journey, and they could decide that things need to change drastically, and then we're going away. As a concerned friend, if you see them showing signs of relapse, it's important to go to their loved ones and provide that all-important support network.
The big problem with addiction is that it's viewed as a negative thing, that it’s something that they “brought upon themselves,” whereas it should be viewed as a disease. And while there are many arguments around both, we have to remember that if someone we care about, who has children, is going through an addiction, they may have spent a long time trying to hide from confronting themselves. They may have spent a long time trying to function despite a deep-rooted trauma. Addiction is borne from an inability to deal with an aspect of life. It could become a vice which spirals into an addiction; this is something that we can all fall foul of. And while so many people think there's nothing wrong with a glass of wine at the end of the day, once it becomes a dependency, this is when the needs to be major concerns about the welfare of any family. When you see someone, fellow parents, going through something like this, it can be heartbreaking to see, but there are things you can do to help.