Drug Abuse in the Family

Your child's addiction can have consequences for your marriage.
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Finding out that your child is using drugs is every parent's worst nightmare. And if a couple has conflicting ways of reacting to the stress of the situation then the problem is compounded. As tough as it may be at times like this, it's important for a couple to be a little selfish and refocus their time and energy on each other, says Mary Ellen Lester, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Here's what else she recommends:

Get help from a therapist.

It's not unusual to feel depressed when faced with a problem this large. Consult a psychiatrist if you have these signs of clinical depression: anxiety, weeping, sleeplessness, inability to concentrate.

Banish regret and self-doubt.

Sometimes you just don't know why a child takes drugs. Keep in mind that it can happen in the best of families. Recognize that it's time to stop blaming yourself and move on.

Share with your spouse what's on your mind, but set a time limit.

Talking about your child's drug problem 24 hours a day doesn't leave room for the other conversations that are important in a marriage. Try limiting yourselves to a 20-minute or so "appointment" when you can discuss your worries or thoughts about your child's situation.

Don't forget about your other children.

It's understandable that a child with a drug problem may take most of your attention and energy, but it's important that, if you have other children, you don't leave them to fend for themselves. They need your continued support and care too.

Get to know your kids' friends.

If you have other children, make an effort to get acquainted with their friends--this can give you a clue about what types of issues your child may be facing. Also, it's smart to become comfortable with the kids' parents so that you can touch base with them if you have questions or would like another parent's opinion.


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