It is every parent’s nightmare when they discover that their child has been using drugs and is perhaps even addicted. If you have raised your child in a religious ambience, the shock can be even more staggering. Naturally, the questions begin: “Where did we go wrong?” or “Why didn’t we see the signs?”
If things go to worst, the therapists will consider adverse childhood experiences regarding addiction. It’s hard to avoid thinking this way, but it is completely unhelpful and never productive. The important thing to realize is that you see the problem now, and God is giving you an opportunity to help your child before it is too late.
The instinctual response is to feel fear or anger. But this, too, is unhelpful. How do you handle a child who is on drugs in a positive way? How do you represent your faith well while trying to walk through such a difficult situation? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. What we must embrace is that there is a need for much grace and compassion, as well as prayer and perhaps even the help of the church.
Parents of drug addicts often experience such deep shame and guilt that they isolate themselves from the problem and fail to reach out to their church community or pastor for the help and support they need. If your child is on drugs, you must acknowledge that you need and deserve help and support. This is not your fault. Isolating and hiding in shame only makes the problem worse, and you may end up missing out on the care and love that your church community is ready to provide.
There is no perfect way to parent a child who is struggling with an addiction. Perhaps you have already tried to confront them about the problem. If you haven’t already done so, begin to pray for your child daily. Ask that God would give you the wisdom, strength and direction you need in dealing with the problem.
Reach out to your pastor or church community immediately; the support and prayer of other believers are invaluable. As you are supporting your child, you need someone supporting you, no matter how hard it may be to talk about. Boldly admit the problem and ask for the help you need. Though you fear judgment, you may be surprised at the support, love and grace you receive. Your candor may even provide an avenue for other families to begin opening up about their own struggles. God has given us the body of the church so that we might complete each other. Don’t be afraid to reach out now.
Will drug rehab be necessary? This will depend on the individual and their unique situation. Some drug users are able to immediately find recovery through a 12-Step program, while others will require a more intensive approach to treatment and recovery. The severity of your child’s condition will determine if a residential or outpatient approach is best.
The most important thing to remember is that this isn’t your fault, God has a plan, and there is hope. In the end, you cannot fix your child. They must want recovery and pursue it willingly. You can help lead them to the resources and the help, but you can’t force a positive outcome. Your job is to continue taking care of your marriage and family and to seek God’s will in caring for your child.