Did you ever hear the expression “that’s the alcohol talking”? Well, it’s a true enough phrase and it also means that’s the alcohol thinking.
In fact, whatever substance an addict uses, it is difficult to separate the substance and its effects from the decisions that people make. Long story short, it is difficult for any addict to make sensible decisions on where to seek treatment. Almost everyone, child or adult, could use critical help in this first step of their recovery.
If the addict is clean and sober temporarily, it is still not a great idea to make a decision on treatment by yourself. There are not that many choices to make, but these choices are too personal to be fully in focus when first seeking help to consider moving forward without some kind of guidance. This essay will quickly review the reasons why this is true.
Before you start, however, remember you are not alone. In this report on treatment center referrals, it was calculated that $600 billion is spent in the United States each year on addiction recovery and that 2.4 million people, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, use prescription drugs annual for reasons that are not tied to a medical issue.
With an issue that big, you have plenty of company. But many people insisted on making decisions as quickly. The temptation to do so is understandable, but you have to take care of yourself first.
In a word, your emotional involvement makes it difficult to make decisions clearly. A little help goes a long way.
This does not mean go into therapy before you make a decision to help your child. But just as they tell you in an airplane crash to strap the oxygen mask on yourself first, so you can help the child sitting next to you without passing out, you need to get yourself on solid emotional ground before you make critical decisions that on how to help your child.
This means finding someone who can help you make objective decisions. We hire lawyers and real estate agents for that same reason – to have someone on your team representing us who is not overly involved on an emotional level. Now you are seeking treatment for a child. Don’t you think someone who isn’t emotionally involved should help make the decision on where to seek help?
A trusted friend, a local mental health counselor or someone in a support group for family members of addicts would be ideal choices for getting yourself grounded so important decisions can be made. Hospitals and clinics also have professionals on hand who specialize in helping people make the first treatment decisions.
Many communities have mental health alliances that deal with referring people to the right therapist. They may just supply you with phone numbers to get you started. It is calming, however, to have someone support your choices, especially as you first begin to seek a path to recovery.
The second basic reason you need outside help just to make the first decisions is that you have a shared history with your child. It is impossible to separate yourself from the child completely and look at the choices from the same angle as an objective observer.
Let’s try to understand this by starting with the idea that the one mistake a therapist can make is to repeat the mistakes made by the client’s parents.
While that is a simple premise, let’s see that means in real life.
In simple terms, if your parents were brutal, a brutal therapist is not going to be a great helper for your child. On the other hand, if your parents were so patient that nothing in the home was ever accomplished, then a therapist with infinite amounts of patience might not be the best choice for the child, either.
Yes, this means exactly what it sounds like: Sometimes the right help for the family is someone with a counter-intuitive style. A brutal father can relate to a hard-nosed therapist and thinks a therapist with infinite patience is too soft to help his child. Taking that to a logical conclusion, a hard-nosed father should find a therapist who is not like him – maybe someone he doesn’t even like right off the bat.
Similarly, if your parents were fuzzy-wuzzy types, it might be best to find a therapist who is goal oriented and has a structured approach to therapy. In reverse: If the parents were cold and controlling, a fuzzy-wuzzy therapist might be just the thing.
See how this complicates the process of finding treatment for a child with addiction issues? And these are just the basics. They have yet to approach questions on how spiritually oriented or behavior, cognitive or emotional the approach to therapy might be. For that, you need to explore the belief systems of the addict. This may take time.
The bottom line is you need to seek professional help to know where to go for treatment.