How to Encourage Your Child to Get Help for Their Substance Use or Addiction

Last Updated: Friday, March 19, 2021

father talking to son(Partnership to End Addiction)  You may have heard that your child “has to want help” in order to get better. Chances are they do want help getting better, but we may not be hearing them because we don’t know what to listen for.

If your loved one expresses even a little willingness to start getting help — whether it’s attending an AA or NA meeting, or getting a treatment consultation — it can be all the invitation you need to begin the conversation.

While the hope is that your child will readily and quickly agree to treatment, don’t despair if they first say no or need more time to think about it. There will be opportunities to raise the subject again. Managing your expectations around them engaging with, and staying in, treatment are a part of good self-care.

Listen for "change talk"

So, how does a willingness to get help sound? It usually comes in the form of “change talk.” Change talk is any time your child voices a concern over the way things are, or expresses a desire to improve their life in some way. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “I’m really feeling depressed that I don’t have a decent job.”
  • “I think I really upset [a friend] last night when he thought I had one too many.”
  • “I wonder if I should go back to school.”
  • “I want to move out and have my own place.”

When a loved one expresses change talk, help them connect the dots. Gently explain how their substance use is related to their current worries and their hopes for a better future.

Read the rest on Partnership to End Addiction's website.

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