Get kid off drugs

Nothing keeps us up at night more than the thought of our child getting mixed up with the wrong crowd and getting involved with drugs. Our greatest fear is that looming phone call from the police where we are told that our child has just died from an overdose. With Heroin as popular as ever, this is a likely outcome if nothing changes. The family has more sway here than anyone else, however, they usually do not know what actions to take. The following eight steps will give you the information you need to immediately start reducing the odds that you will ever receive the call you fear the most.

Know the Facts

If you think or even slightly suspect that your child is experimenting with drugs you need to know the facts. A drug test from a local lab can separate truth from suspicion. Your child will likely get mad and say hurtful things to you for drug testing them. But you must detach emotion from fact. One day, as an adult, your child will thank you for caring enough to make sure they are safe.

If your child is clean, reiterate that you need the truth, for her safety is far more important than anything else. You love her and you are going to do what is best. Ask her to Google stats on teenage addiction and overdose deaths. She may still be mad but you have made your case about why you had to know. Let her know that you will drug test her from time to time just to make sure. You may need to grow thick skin around this but let me ask you a very simple question. What is more important, her life or being uncomfortable for a little while?

As you read through this list I want you to ask yourself this question every time you think I am asking too much of you. Is (fill in the blank) more important than my child’s life? Sound extreme? Addiction is a war and if your child is using, your family is under attack and you must win. There are no rules around this, it is life and death. You would do well to Google some of these facts and figures yourself.

If your child tests positive for illegal drugs you have a lot of work in front of you.

Be Honest About Your Home

You may live in an affluent area with great schools and believe that this is a lower income problem but, you would be wrong. Heroin is the choice drug of the upper middle class. Yes, heroin.

Wherever you live and however much money you make, your child feels completely safe and comfortable using drugs right in your family home. This does not mean you have done a bad job or that you must move, it just means she has exploited a loophole or void in your structure. Nothing can be accomplished until you can be honest about this simple fact. She was able to use somewhere.

Hint – there is nowhere you can move to escape drugs and alcohol. You are going to have to make certain moves to ensure the safety of your home.

Turn OFF the Faucet

An addicted life is an unstable life. People who are using cannot keep their life going smoothly without help. You need to cut off any and all help until behaviours have changed and drugs are no longer a part of the equation. Again, you will know through drug testing often and randomly.

Finding Leverage

If your child is still in the family home you may consider alternative placement, especially if there are other children who are now at risk. This could be long-term treatment or even a children’s home for such situations. If an adult child, it is now time to move out. Paying for a car, phone, groceries, or gas is just freeing up money for drugs. This is the life they are choosing so it is up to you to let them feel the full weight of their decisions. Getting evicted and ending up in a shelter can open their eyes very quickly.

Maneuvering Treatment and Insurance

In America, you will need to get with your insurance provider to discuss your options and out of pocket expenses. What you really need to know is what each segment of treatment will cost you. For instance, there is inpatient followed by aftercare and each program has associated costs. If primary treatment costs around $30,000, you can plan on aftercare and sober living to run between $10,000 – $15,000. If your insurance deductible has been met you may have little to no copay but this is information you need to know prior to starting the treatment process.

Making the Legal Community Your Ally

In America when our child is arrested for the first time we spring into action posting bail and hiring a great attorney to ensure she has not derailed any future aspiration for school and career. I will not fight you on this because it may be a one-time event and we do not want to unnecessarily hang a conviction around our child’s neck.

I want you to consider what to do after the second, third, or fourth arrest. Now what? If your child has never really had to sit in the county jail and answer for her actions when the charges are relatively simple, what is going to happen if her behaviour continues? I’ll give you a hint, eventually, the charges will be substantial and there will be no avoiding a long prison sentence. Perhaps if she had been allowed to sit a month or two in the county jail she would have realised that she never wanted to go to jail again and made corrective measures to ensure her freedom. You have to remember that an addicted life almost always includes time in jail. A few months in county is much easier to overcome than decades in a penitentiary.

Here is one quick way to make the legal community work in your favour. When she calls from jail let her know that you will only bail her out if she goes directly to treatment followed by aftercare. You can make aftercare and sober living last until she goes to court. If she refuses, let her think it over in jail for a week. If she still refuses, give her another week or two. Once she realises she could sit in jail for months she will gladly go.

If you have already bonded her out or she walks away from treatment you can always have her bond revoked and have her returned to the county jail if she will not return to making positive decisions. You can always have your attorney work with the court to make the treatment plan a condition of her release. This can be hard but remember what is at stake, you must be strong.


This is of paramount importance. Think about any other medical procedure you might have done. They always tell you that if you want the benefits of the procedure you must attend your follow-up appointments and aftercare. Fail to do so and the procedure will have been pointless. We follow the instructions to the letter when we have a knee replaced so, why would we not follow through when treating an addiction that has the absolute power to kill us

Getting fixed in 28 days is a myth, you must take aftercare seriously otherwise relapse is all but a certainty. This would include outpatient programs, sober living, counselling, 12-step meetings, and a support system.

Getting Out of the Way

Finally, you must get out of the way and let the professionals you have hired to do their job. If she stumbles and gets removed from her sober house allow her to stay in a shelter for a week or two until the sober house lets her back in or she finds another sober home willing to take her in. Do not do this for her, she made the mess, let her live with the outcome. This whole idea of letting your child become self-sufficient does not end the day she leaves treatment. It has really just begun. She needs to be held accountable just like everyone else and until she learns how to stand on her own two feet she will ultimately fail at recovery. What would happen if you just decided to get high at work and stopped paying all your bills? How long would it take for your employer and mortgage holder to hold you accountable?

This is just an overview of the basics steps to take to save your family. You have more influence than anyone or anything else in your child’s life. For further clear-cut directions and specific instructions, I suggest my new book, How to Get Your Kid Off Drugs.

Scott Wisenbaker opened a residential recovery centre, Solutions of North Texas, in 2006, after struggling with alcohol and drug addiction for years. For over two decades, he has helped thousands of families find a path to recovery, using a real world approach to recovery for the entire family.