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How to Get Your Resistant Teen to Engage in Treatment

January 29, 2019

The reality of individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders is that their behavior serves some sort of purpose for them. It may sound crazy, but substances such as alcohol and drugs are often used to “numb out” or they’re used as a “remedy” for an existing and unmanaged mental health disorder like depression or anxiety.

As a parent coming to the realization that your child needs help, you are probably discouraged and saddened by this reality. Seeking treatment for your teen can be overwhelming and scary for every member of your family, and there may be some resistance and backlash from your child. Refusal to engage in treatment is a fairly common issue, and can result in more tension and stress within the family unit. Ultimately, it is your child’s choice whether or not they engage in treatment and work towards a healthy and sober life. You can’t make choices for them, nor can you force them to do something they don’t want to do. You can, however, do everything in your power to set them up for success, find ways to encourage them, and model what a healthy lifestyle looks like. Here are some ideas for helping your treatment-resistant child:

Put on Your Listening Ears.

As with anyone who is going through a difficult season of life, one of the most important things you can do is to listen to your child. Make time to actively listen to what they have to say, and try to see things from their point of view. Starting a treatment program, no matter the level of care, is difficult and scary. Try to be empathetic and understanding of the things they’re feeling, and do more listening than talking sometimes.

Hold Firm Boundaries.

Adolescents who are in active addiction can often be manipulative as well as emotionally indifferent to the way that they treat people. When someone in active addiction finds something you are willing to compromise on, they’ll run with it, often bargaining and trying to make deals with you. Setting boundaries can be painful and cause resentment or frustration, but sticking to what is important to you is crucial for your child’s recovery as well as your emotional wellbeing as a parent.

Focus on The Good.

Aggressive confrontation is a scary and uncomfortable thing, which is why it rarely ends positively. Instead of being confrontational and creating conflict when encouraging your child to engage in treatment, do the opposite. Identify and highlight your child’s strengths. Bring attention to their resilience and the things they have accomplished instead of the negative things they have done while active in their addiction. Remind them of their worth, and reassure them that you will be there through the treatment process to support them in whatever ways they need.

You can only do so much as a parent, but using these suggestions when communicating with your child about treatment is a good start to help them get their life back, and to rebuild the relationship you once had. You don’t have to do this alone, Sandstone Care is here to help.

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