By: Bethany Winkel
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Talking to Your College Student About Getting Help for Addiction
Parents often struggle with finding the right words to say to their older children about drug and alcohol addiction. Adult children who are in college and still come home to live for the summer pose a problem if they are using drugs or abusing alcohol. If you are a parent of a college student who is struggling with addiction, below are some helpful tips for talking to your child.
Let them know now is the time. If your child is away at college most of the year and comes home just for summer break, now is the time to talk to him or her about their substance use. Now is also an opportune time for them to get help for their addiction. Your child won’t have the classes, the schoolwork, or the responsibilities that they have at school. Instead of living the summer with low accountability and facing the danger of the drug or alcohol use getting worse, encourage your child to take this time to recover. Help them find a treatment program that will be good for them and that they feel ok committing to.
Get them to think rationally. You might start by reasoning with your college student. Highlight the dangers of substance use and the impact it can have on their education, relationships, and career path. Let your child know that addiction will hinder their life goals and their ability to live up to their potential.
Lay down the law. If your college student does not respond to your well-thought out reasoning, it is time to turn to more serious measures. If you lay out consequences, be prepared to follow through with them. If you give ultimatums, stick to them. As a parent you can withhold financial support to your student if they refuse to get help for an addiction. You can set up regular drug tests with a local organization to get your child to sober up. You can make them move out of the house and find a way to support themselves if they continue to use. You have the ability to use threats and ultimatums to your advantage, but it is important that you are fair with your consequences, that you follow through, and that most importantly, you let your child know you have their best interests in mind.
Show love. Above all, keep your tone positive, and keep loving your child. Reassure them that you want what’s best for them and will do all you can to help them succeed in their recovery. Whether you need to show tough love at this time in your child’s life, or if they are responsive to your heart-to-hearts, as the parent it is important to talk to your child.