Solutions (Do’s and Don’ts)


  • Talk honestly and openly with your child regarding your concerns.
  • Be active and engage in recreational pursuits with your child.
  • Ask your child to explain the meaning of her/his substance use/misuse.
  • If there is substance abuse, ask others to assist you in talking with your child (e.g., a favorite teacher, coach, priest, pastor, counselor, relative, friend).
  • Encourage your child to talk about the ways in which s/he is being affected by “fears,” “doubts,” “frustrations,” “suffering,” and “pain.”
  • Encourage your child to think about the many invitations and temptations to misuse substances.
  • Question the cultural norms that children are supposed to become “separate” and independent from parents and that strong parent/child connections are “dysfunctional.”
  • As a parent, reflect critically upon your own expectations, desires, and dreams for your child, realizing these can all be negotiated, and re-negotiated, with input from your child.
  • Continue to hope love will prevail.


  • Don’t be reactive: not all substance use is misuse or abuse.
  • Don’t be seduced by the myth that all substance misuse is a disease, and that lifelong abstinence is the only cure.
  • Don’t allow “guilt” to convince you that you are a “bad parent” or that your child’s substance misuse is all your responsibility.
  • Don’t have your child locked in a secure program without careful consideration regarding the program’s philosophy of treatment.
  • Don’t allow “shame” to isolate you and to keep you from talking with concerned others about the effects your child’s substance misuse has upon you.
  • Don’t give up love and hopefulness.

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