Raising a daughter can be filled with both exciting and challenging moments. You want the best for her. You encourage her to succeed. You comfort her when she does not achieve the goals she has set for herself. You don’t want her to get caught up in addiction, but you cannot ignore your suspicions that she might be.
As your daughter becomes a young adult, you may be inclined to believe that what she does with her life is none of your business. Addiction is a deadly disease, though, and it’s one you want to protect her from if you can.
Take a look at this statistic: In 2010, 5.9 percent of young adults, ages 18 to 25, reportedly used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.
If your daughter is suffering from an addiction, there are ways you can help her. By recognizing the signs, confronting her about the problem, and providing support for her and your family, you can help your daughter overcome addiction and go on to live a happy, healthy life.
Table of Contents
- Signs My Daughter Might Be Addicted
- Confronting My Daughter About Her Addiction
- Getting Help for My Addicted Daughter
- Dealing With an Addicted Daughter
- Seeking Help for Your Daughter’s Addiction
Signs My Daughter Might Be Addicted
Here are some signs your daughter might be struggling with an addiction:
- New friends — Sudden changes in your daughter’s social scene could indicate an addiction. If she suddenly stops interacting with people she has known for a long time and gets a whole new group of friends, they could be people who have the wrong influence on her. Keep in mind, young adults change friends sometimes. They can have a falling out with an old friend or develop new friendships with people at work or the gym. A sudden and drastic change in your daughter’s social interactions should get your attention, though.
- Lowering the standard of achievement — If your daughter has always been an overachiever — the kid with the best grades in school or the boss’s right hand — and she suddenly stops doing well, she could be struggling with addiction. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes or gets surpassed by the new person at work, but if this behavior becomes the new normal, you might want to talk with your daughter about substance abuse.
- Anti-social behavior — Addiction forces people to do things they’re not proud of, and their natural instinct is to hide their behavior. Substance abuse causes people to withdraw from social situations to try to keep their secrets. Healthy young adults are naturally socially active. If you find your daughter is spending more time home alone than usual, she may have a problem.
- Deception — Young adults don’t necessarily tell their parents about everything they do, but when you ask a blunt question, you should get a clear and truthful answer. If your daughter is lying to you, even about small things like who she went out with last night or how well she’s doing at work, it could be a sign of addiction. People struggling with addiction are very secretive about their behavior because they do not want to get caught. They’re also ashamed and do not want anyone, especially their parents, to find out what they’re doing.
- Financial problems — Your young daughter may already be struggling to make her paycheck go as far as she would like it to, but if she’s caught up in an addiction, her financial problems will get worse. If you notice that she never has any money or is always borrowing from family or friends, it could be a sign she is addicted. As addiction develops, the need for the chosen substance grows, increasing the strain on what might already be a tight budget.
- Illegal behavior — Addiction can force people to do almost anything to get the drugs they need to feed their habit — even break the law. Someone who would never consider stealing or committing any other crime before can easily be moved to illegal behavior by addiction. Even small crimes that don’t seem at all related to drug abuse could be signs that your daughter is dealing with an addiction.
- Lack of enthusiasm — When people are struggling with addiction, they often seem to lose their enthusiasm for things they once liked. They may stop participating in their favorite hobbies, but not replace these activities with new ones. They may also lose interest in work or in trying to get a raise or promotion. If your daughter suddenly loses her enthusiasm for any part of her life, she might be suffering from an addiction.
- Mood changes — Sudden mood swings can be a sign of drug addiction. Uncharacteristic angry outbursts or an unusually combative attitude could be caused by the withdrawal experienced between doses. Uncontrolled laughter or a detachment from reality might also be an indication of substance abuse. In addition, if your daughter’s general demeanor becomes extremely negative or dark, addiction could have something to do with that.
- Paranoia — Fear, anxiety, and paranoia can all be signs of addiction. While these are natural emotions when they are precipitated by real events, they can be heightened by drug abuse. Addiction can cause fear, anxiety, or paranoia that appears to be unfounded by anyone who is not aware of the drug use. When suffering from addiction, some people are constantly afraid someone will find out or that they will do something to give away their secret.
Each of these signs on its own may not indicate an addiction, but a combination of them is a much more likely indication your daughter could have a problem.
Confronting My Daughter About Her Addiction
You may have thought that once the teenage years were over, you would not have to deal with certain things anymore — poor dating choices, rebellious clothing options, and sneaky behavior. Young adults, however, are particularly susceptible to addiction, whether they’re in college or working toward building their own lives.
Addiction can happen to anyone at any age, but young adults can be affected more quickly and severely than older adults. Although the teenage years are over, the adolescent brain development phase is not complete until the mid-twenties. Young adult brains are still growing in the areas that help with decision-making and impulse control.
Most young adults experience more stress than at any previous time in their lives as well. They are in college dealing with academic pressures and social pressures while continuing to develop their own identities. Young adults are also often separated from family for the first time, whether they’re in college or out on their own. Handling their own living arrangements and facing their first serious jobs, young adults are under a lot of pressure.
If you suspect your daughter has a problem with addiction, you cannot ignore that. But it’s important to approach the subject with a sense of compassion and sympathy for all she is facing at this time in her life. Here are some tips for confronting your daughter about a potential addiction issue:
- Compassion — Understand how easy it is to become addicted to substances. Young adults who are under a lot of pressure in their lives may turn to a substance they believe to be harmless for a quick fix. What starts out as a chemical boost to get through an all-night study session can end up as an addiction.No one sets out to become an addict, and young adults are especially ill-equipped to make healthy decisions under academic, financial, and social pressures.
- Talk about everything — Not everyone has the type of relationship with her daughter where they talk about everything, but when it comes to potential dangers to your daughter’s health and well-being, you have to be open to all topics. Addiction can be a difficult issue to discuss, whether it’s a completely foreign topic in your family or it hits a little too close to home. For your daughter’s well-being, you have to be willing to speak openly and honestly about the signs you’re seeing, as well as your own behaviors and those of other people in the family. Just because your daughter is developing the same types of behaviors she sees in other family members, doesn’t mean she is safe. There’s a genetic component to some addictions, so you have to be willing to examine your own behavior in the context of a conversation that raises the issue of your daughter’s potential addiction.
- Listen between the lines — Listening is a good way to show respect for another adult, even if she is your daughter. Go ahead and ask her the hard questions about her behavior and her life, but then listen to her answers. Do not jump to any conclusions or present her with any ultimatums. Just listen, and leave the door open for future discussions on the matter. Then, think about what she told you. Were these just excuses for her behavior? If she did not concede that she’s feeling a lot of pressure to succeed, she may be hiding the truth from you.
- Seek a professional opinion — Getting a professional involved sooner rather than later is a good move. Only a professional can diagnose addiction or any other mental health issues. Bringing your daughter to a doctor who can diagnose an addiction can put an end to your speculation. It could also end the debate between you and your daughter. Get her to agree to a doctor’s visit, and the two of you can decide to accept their professional opinion.
If you still suspect your daughter is struggling with addiction and she does not agree to see a doctor, you may have to stage an intervention. It’s important to realize that at this age, it can be very difficult to make your daughter do something she does not want to do. Playing the parent card is not likely to work.
What you really have to do is convince her that it’s in her best interest to seek help. She needs to be on board with the plan. Paint a picture for her of how much better her life will be when she gets the professional help she needs to end this addiction. Remind her, of course, that she has your full support, even if she has to take a break from her life (college, job, etc.) to overcome her addiction.
Here are some tips for staging an intervention:
- Get professional help — Interventions can be highly emotionally charged events that can backfire and push your daughter away in her attempt to continue to hide her habit. Start by calling a counselor for some professional guidance on how to handle this intervention.
- Invite the right people — You’ll want to keep the intervention group small — just a handful of people. Choose people who can demonstrate their compassion and love for your daughter. Include those who can document her addictive behaviors, and also people she respects and listens to.
- Have a plan — During your intervention, you’ll have to show your daughter that her behavior is addiction. If she is in denial, she’s lying to herself, too. No one wants to believe that she has a problem with addiction, or that she has any problem she cannot handle on her own. Your daughter is a young adult now, and she is feeling the pressure to take care of herself, including solving her own problems.
- Show she has options — Show your daughter that she has options and a built-in support system. Have all the information available for a recovery program, and set your goal as having your daughter agree to sign up immediately. If she won’t sign up for recovery under the pressure of the intervention, she is not going to agree to do so later.
- Brief your intervention group — Meet with your intervention group secretly in advance. Make sure everyone knows what the goal of the intervention is and what their role will be. You’ll only have your daughter’s attention for a few minutes because this intense emotion can only be tolerated for a short period of time. When she cannot handle it anymore, your daughter will put up her defenses and not listen to anything said after that. Discuss what you expect the intervention group to do if she cries, if she tries to run out of the room or if she becomes combative. Be prepared for any other potential hypothetical situation you can think of. An intervention can be emotional for all of the participants.
- Hold the intervention — Bring your daughter or invite her to meet you at the designated intervention site. Make sure it is a private, comfortable space where everyone can feel free to express themselves, and your daughter will be comfortable with any emotions that come up. You do not want to hold an intervention in a restaurant, for instance, so there’s the potential for a public spectacle.
- Follow up — Whether the intervention was successful or not, you cannot act as if it didn’t happen. Follow up with your daughter frequently. Reiterate the conversation that took place at the intervention, including your love and support for your daughter. Repeat the suggestion that she enroll in a credible recovery program. If she is in recovery, you cannot consider it a done deal, either. Recovery is demanding and requires lots of support. Continue to express your love for your daughter and praise her for making the hard decision to enter treatment.
Getting Help for My Addicted Daughter
Getting help for addiction is actually easier than it used to be. The stigma surrounding addiction is beginning to fade as more people experience this serious problem and talk about what they had to go through to get help. Addiction is recognized as a mental illness and a chronic disease, making it a legitimate health concern.
Despite your daughter’s legal status as an adult, it is possible for you to get help for her to overcome her addiction. The first step is to contact a treatment facility and get some information. When you call a place like Tranquil Shores, you will get the guidance you need to steer your daughter toward getting the help she needs.
Arming yourself with information about addiction and recovery is an important step in this process, and Tranquil Shores can help you with that. Our compassionate professionals understand the stress you’re under while recognizing your daughter’s struggle with addiction and feeling helpless to solve this problem for her.
You cannot solve your daughter’s addiction problem because, ultimately, she has to commit to a recovery program. But you can be instrumental in getting her the information she needs and showing her the necessary support to succeed in overcoming her addiction.
Dealing With an Addicted Daughter
Addiction is not only a struggle for the person who has it, but it is also hard on everyone around her. Dealing with your daughter’s addiction will be tough on you, so you should adopt a strategy for protecting your own health and well-being.
Recognize that her addiction is not your fault. It’s not a character flaw or a commentary on the way you raised her. You were not responsible to see this coming or helping her avoid it in the first place. This addiction is not about you. You also do not have the training necessary to counsel her through this addiction. Overcoming addiction requires professional intervention.
Anything that threatens your daughter, however, will have an emotional effect on you. You naturally want the best for your daughter, and you feel some sense of responsibility in helping her achieve that. When she is hurting, you hurt, too.
Your daughter will need your love and support to help her through addiction recovery. The only way for you to provide the necessary assistance is to remain healthy yourself. You will need your own support network to be sure you can remain strong throughout your daughter’s recovery.
Here are some things you can do to make dealing with your daughter’s addiction a little easier on yourself:
- Be sure to get counseling for yourself and your family. Addiction affects everyone differently. As members of your daughter’s support network, you and your family will need your own counseling. The problems your family may be experiencing as a result of your daughter’s addiction will not automatically go away when she recovers. The damage the addiction has done may continue to hinder your family dynamics and will require professional help to reverse.
- Take time for yourself away from your daughter and the topic of addiction. Dealing with an addicted loved one can become all-consuming. You can begin to lose your perspective on life and your sense of yourself if you get completely caught up in saving your daughter and your family from the evils of addiction. You need to make time for yourself, to participate in your hobbies or favorite activities, either alone or with friends. Continue to focus some of your time on your own personal hygiene and health routines. You are no good to your daughter if you fall apart and lose your sense of identity.
- Be sure to schedule family time that’s not focused on addiction and recovery. You will end up having a lot of conversations about your daughter’s addiction, but you cannot spend all of your family time this way. Plan fun activities to renew your family bonds. Spend time focusing on other members of your family besides your daughter. They need to know they are still important, and they should continue to grow and develop independently of the addiction crisis.
- Be sure to spend some time with your addicted daughter talking about something other than addiction and recovery. Being the center of a family crisis is very stressful, and trying to fight addiction and mend family relationships is hard work. Remind your daughter that you see more in her than her current troubles by engaging in activities you used to do together. Talk with her about sports, music, politics, foreign travel or anything else she’s interested in that has nothing to do with addiction.
Seeking Help for Your Daughter’s Addiction
Addiction is not an easy situation to deal with, but it must be confronted to bring about a positive outcome. Getting professional help is the best step you can take.
Contact Tranquil Shores to learn more about the warning signs of addiction and how to stage a successful intervention. Let our professional staff guide you with the information you need to get your daughter the help she requires. With our help, you can make the biggest difference in your daughter’s life right now.