Forty percent of the calls that we receive on the Parent Helpline are from despairing moms and dads looking for a sensible answers to help them deal with their teenagers’ and young adults’ drug abuse and dependencies. By the time parents find their way to us, the “conversation” with their teen hasn’t worked, the abstinence contract has been broken, and they have heard all about “tough love,” “letting them hit bottom” and “enabling” — with enough gratuitous advice and ideological claptrap about how to “fix” the problem, that their heads are reeling.
Yet, their loved one’s drug problem continues to worsen, family difficulties deteriorate along with increased school failures and dropout, drunk and drugged driving, delinquency, and early pregnancy becoming all too common. And, while we all agree that there are no easy answers, the conventional wisdom, stubbornly insists on telling parents that emotional detachment is the holy grail of family recovery, the magic ingredient that they have missed out on – that as parents of addicts, to truly help their children, and in order to retain their own personal, physical, emotional and spiritual health, they must love their drug addicted child enough to let them suffer so that they can get better. Some parents, desperate for answers, try this with mixed results, but most parents that we talk to tell us that they wish that there had been another way.
But, finding another way isn’t always that simple. The treatment and recovery landscape can be described as being dominated by a singular approach that proposes that “denial” must first be broken before the afflicted individual can find the road to recovery.
But through the hundreds of phone calls we receive from parents who have been there, we have come to understand a few things about this. That is that:
• Active positive family involvement as opposed to detachment works better
• Motivational styles in reaching loved ones are more effective than confrontational styles
• Parents feel better about themselves when they encourage vs. confront
• Parents like motivational approaches better than confrontational ones
• Positive reinforcement works
It is for this reason, we are proud to announce a very special Intervene blog collaboration with The Center for Motivation and Change (CMC) to provide Intervene’s readers with an ongoing series of professionally written articles proposing alternatives to the traditional approach of dealing with a loved one’s addictive problems.
The cornerstone of CMC’s treatment approach is motivational, helping each client find a path toward change they can truly embrace. By providing the structure and tools to pursue that path, and through the use of respectful, flexible, evidence-based approaches, CMC addresses a range of issues to help each individual clear the often difficult obstacles to effective, life-enhancing, and long-lasting change.
Be on the lookout for CMC’s first post on Intervene – “The CRAFT Approach: Encouraging Healthy, Constructive, Positive Changes for Your Family” – coming soon!