When Addiction Hits Home
This toolkit is for parents or caregivers who are dealing with a son or daughter’s substance use. It’s a helpful tool whether you’re concerned about a loved one’s early, experimental substance use or are concerned about a more serious substance use problem. It’s also useful for other family members or friends. You’ll find information about drugs and substance use, strategies for supporting a loved one, strategies for taking care of yourself, and treatment options—all from families who have been there themselves.
What you'll find in the toolkit
Acknowledgements and Introduction
An introduction to this toolkit, who it’s for and how to use it.
About Drugs and Your Child
Drugs can be helpful or harmful, legal or illegal. Learn more about the risks and harms of drugs and how you might recognize drug use.
Why Your Child Might Use Drugs
People use drugs for many different reasons. Boredom, stress at school and peer pressure are just a few example. For some people, drugs can also be a way to cope with underlying mental health problems.
This Can't Be Happening...
It can be very hard to cope with a loved one’s substance use. Families may feel confused, guilty, ashamed, angry or powerless. While these feelings are difficult, it’s important to recognize the problem and recognize that you need to take care of yourself, too.
Three major parts of communication include listening, honesty, and looking for clues. You’ll learn more about communicating effectively with all family members and accepting a loved one’s personal decisions around substance use.
You Can Minimize the Harm
Different substances have different health risks, and different substances can lead people to take risks or do things they wouldn’t otherwise think about. You can help reduce the risk of harm by learning and sharing accurate, non-judgemental information and supporting safer decisions. You’ll also learn more about overdose situations.
Supporting versus Enabling
Families are often told that shouldn’t enable a loved one’s substance use. They should make substance use hard for a loved one. This isn’t easy, and the different between supporting and enabling isn’t always clear. In this section, you’ll learn more about the roles that each family member can play and how to set your own boundaries.
There are many different treatment options here in BC. You’ll learn more about these different options and how to find a service provider that meets your loved one’s goals and needs.
Taking Care of Yourself
It’s normal to have a lot of difficult feelings around a loved one’s substance use, but these feelings can affect your own well-being. In this section, you’ll learn more about caring for yourself, such as connecting with support networks, learning more about substance use, and practicing self-care.
Life on the Street
It’s never easy for a parent to tell a child that they can no longer live at home. Other people may choose to leave home. If a loved one experiences homelessness, you can still keep in contact and make safety a priority. This section also offers things to think about when you’re considering letting a loved one move back home.
Dealing with the Criminal Justice System
People who experience substance use problems may be arrested, charged with a crime or put in jail. The criminal justice system is frightening and complicated for everyone, and you may not know exactly what to do. You’ll learn more about pre-trial facilities and proceedings, court proceeding, sentencing, and how to connect with resources in BC.
Supporting Someone through Detox
Detox (or ‘detoxification’) is part of recovery. When someone stops using a substance, their body needs time to adjust. Withdrawal from a substance can cause many different symptoms—some of which can be severe. Depending on the substance and other individual factors, some people can go through this process at home, with support from family members. Other people need medical supervision, or may need to stay at a detox facility. You’ll also learn more about methadone, a management option for people who want to stop using opiates like heroin.
Addiction and Recovery
Recovery might mean finding new ways to feel good about yourself, forming new behaviours and connecting with new friends and supporters. Recovery is a journey, and setbacks or relapses are part of the process. It takes time to find good strategies for dealing with withdrawal, and it takes time to find the best treatment strategy. Many people have to try a few different treatment options before they find the treatment that works for them. In this section, you’ll learn more about recovery, managing setbacks, and the family’s role in supporting a loved one.
After They Go Straight
Healing doesn’t end when a loved one stops using a substance. A loved one may need to figure out their new path in life and how to cope with challenges. They may still experience shame, guilt or fear around their substance use. Family relationships can also change. You may feel even more anxious about your child, or you may need to adjust to a different kind of parent/child relationship. You'll also find final words of advice from parents who have been through this journey themselves.
Drugs and Alcohol at a Glance
This section describes different substances you might encounter, along with their risks and treatment options. You’ll learn more about alcohol, cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, inhalants, methadone, methamphetamine (meth), and psychedelics like LSD. You'll also find resources and learn how to connect with FGTA.