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TEENS AND DRUGS: HELPING PARENTS CHILL OUT

It's been almost two years since I lifted my head out the sand and discovered that harm reduction approaches offer me so many ways to be more effective as a therapist and addiction treatment consultant.

My recent article in The Fix, Teens and Drugs: Helping Parents Chill Out  reflects some of what I've found to be very helpful in working with parents to get back in the driver's seat of their family when their child's drug use has become disruptive. 

When I began using harm reduction principles such as 'people use drugs for reasons' 'meet your kid where she's at', I was worried that parents would think that I was condoning their kid's drug use. Well, I was pleasantly surprised that once parents understood the ideas a little better, they were more willing to embrace a different perspective and began to use these ideas to work at improving their relationship with their child.

Enabling and Shame

As an addictions counselor, it’s always a pleasure to work with parents who have the instincts and skills to maintain good communication with their teenager as well as the courage (and energy!) to set appropriate and consistent boundaries and limits.

Sometimes, however, these skills can be a double-edged sword and work against us, especially when the emotional and behavioral instability of our child keeps pushing us out of our parental ‘driver’s seat’ and into the passenger seat—or even worse, the back seat.

Being in the family back seat contributes to the fear that develops when we start losing control of a child’s behavior. This fear often motivates us to become even firmer in our resolve to ensure our child’s safety while keeping ourselves sane along with the rest of our family.

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