Illicit drug use among youth can stem from various factors including social pressure, curiosity, anxiety, depression or a desire to experience strong sensations. Despite these common motivations for drug use, parents don’t always recognize the early signs of substance use in their children. These signs can go undetected for many reasons, including a lack of knowledge about the signs of drug use and addiction, lack of communication between parent and child, or an unwillingness to believe their child is using drugs.

But drug and alcohol use among youth is a reality, and their rates of consumption are alarmingly high. Some youth fall into the trap of substance use and are left feeling isolated and misunderstood. It is a very difficult situation for the youth themselves, but also for their families, who feel worried and powerless to help.

Seeing a child struggle with addiction is one of the most difficult and painful things you can experience as a parent. Blaming yourself and feeling guilty about not being able to provide the help they need is all too common. But it’s important to remember that trying to combat your child’s addiction can be very difficult without professional help. Families are strongly advised to contact a professional who can assess and treat their loved one’s addiction through therapy.

In this article, we explain why seeking professional help for your child’s substance use problem does not make you a bad parent.


You are concerned about your child’s wellbeing

As a parent, your primary responsibility is to ensure your child’s physical and mental wellbeing.  Asking for help when your child has an addiction shows you are committed to doing everything in your power to support them and help them get better. It shows you are an attentive, responsible parent.

Caring about your child’s wellbeing also means setting aside your pride and admitting that you do not have the necessary resources to give them the help they really need.


Accessing the right resources

As a parent, it can be difficult to navigate the complex world of addiction in your efforts to help your child. But, with proper guidance, you can access the resources and professional support you need to help your child through the rehabilitation process. There are several types of treatment available and it can be difficult for parents to guide their child through this process without professional help. One of the main reasons you should not feel guilty about asking for help is that it means you want to ensure your child receives the treatment that’s best for them.


Taking care of your own mental health as a parent

Addiction doesn’t only affect the dependent person; it also impacts their loved ones. Taking care of a substance dependent child on your own can be extremely stressful and can impact your own mental and emotional well-being, as well as your family’s. By asking for help, you can get the support you need to take care of yourself and your family during this difficult time.

At Portage, we understand how important it is to include your family in the treatment process. We offer several support services to help you and your family members heal from the trauma and emotional damage brought about by your child’s addiction. This can include family therapy sessions, information sessions and support groups for loved ones.


Supporting your child after therapy

When your child undergoes therapy for an addiction or mental health issue, it’s important for you, as parents, to be there to support them. Family support services will provide the tools and knowledge you need to support your child even after they’ve completed their therapy. These tools include information on how to set healthy limits, how to communicate effectively and how to recognize the signs of a relapse.


Other parents are facing the same situation

Addiction is a common issue that affects many families. According to a study on substance use habits among students between 1977 and 20191, one out of seven students (15%) shows symptoms of drug addiction. That means one out of seven families is struggling against addiction, just like yours. 

Don’t be ashamed and remember you are not the only parents facing this situation. Take the example of Mira, who accompanied her son throughout his long and painful journey through addiction, from which he emerged victorious. Like Mira, don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’s the best way to move forward for yourself, your child and your family. Learning the tools you need and treating the problem at its roots is how you can help your child break the cycle of addiction.


As parents, we can’t imagine that our child could one day fall into the addiction trap. We feel guilty, we blame ourselves and wonder where we went wrong. But the fact is, addiction can happen to anyone at any time regardless of age, gender or social status.

Asking for help is a sign of courage and the best decision you can make for your child, for yourself and for your whole family.


Ready to ask for help?


Please don’t hesitate to contact the admissions service at 1-866-939-0202 or info@portage.ca.


[1] Drug Use Among Ontario Students : 1977-2019, 

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