How Can I Keep My Younger Son Safe From My Older Son’s Substance Use?
Younger siblings can suffer when there is substance use in the family. It’s important to consider a plan for all children in the family.
We work with a special group of moms and dads – Parent Coaches – who, just like you, have been affected by a child’s substance use. They are volunteers who receive special training from the Partnership and our clinical partner in order to help other families through similar struggles. In these blog posts, they answer parents’ most frequent questions.
Addiction is particularly stressful for parents, so know that you are not alone. There is a saying from the airline to put your oxygen mask on first, before you help someone else. Emotions can feel overwhelming, so take time to help yourself feel better first.
To help you handle your emotions, start with a foundation of self-care. Be sure you are eating well, exercising, getting as much sleep as possible and doing your best to keep your worrying in perspective. When you are feeling physically and emotionally strong, you will have a better chance of helping your son change. While many parents do feel sadness, as well as other stressful emotions, it is best to not allow them to overtake you and spill over into your conversations with your child. Some things that can help are to anticipate your feelings ahead of time, and label how you’re feeling, so you are clear. If you feel overwhelmed with worry and sadness, take a short break and do things to help yourself feel better. Worrying often leads you to negative self talk about things that most likely will not happen in the future, so it is not helpful.
Some things that do help to reduce worrying are meditation, or just sitting quietly for a few minutes each day. Writing down your feelings even for a few days has be shown to help a person feel better emotionally. Putting your energy towards educating yourself about addiction and how you can help your son in a positive way will lead you closer to having him make positive changes in his life. Watching a child struggle with substance use is one of life’s biggest challenges. Trust yourself that you can help your son. Remember that you don’t have to face this alone.