How to cope with addiction

Coping Skills

How do I go about having this conversation?

As a young adult, communicating with parents is not always easy or something they may enjoy doing. Often times, young adults feel misunderstood and may be afraid of the outcome of opening up to a loved one. If they are really struggling or have a problem, the last thing they need is to be yelled at or punished. Young adults need to know they are in a safe place and that they are heard. Let your child know that you love them and care about them and just want to make sure they are doing okay. When you talk to a child, make it conversation and not a confrontation.

Watch the short video

If you find yourself having trouble getting anywhere while talking to your child, it might be important to check your tone of voice. Sometimes the way we inflect and ask questions may come off in a way that is more negative. It is important to be aware of your tone and make sure that it does not feel as if you are attacking your child or accusing them.

Watch this short video about tone and ways to fix it

Role of the guardian

As a parent, grandparent, or caregiver, you play a critical role in your child’s life. You can help stop them from actively abusing substances as well as play a potentially life-saving role when it comes to recovery of an already addicted child. Here are a few things you can do to help your child:

  • Be involved in your child’s life but know your boundaries
  • Become knowledgeable of potential risk factors among young adults
  • Help educate your child and don’t be afraid to talk to them
  • Know your child’s friends or be aware of their peers
  • Minimize your child’s stress at home
  • Become aware of the symptoms/signs of substance abuse
  • Create open and honest communication with your child, let them know they can talk to you
  • Help them create and develop healthy coping skills
Do Don’t
Be open and honest with your child if they ask about family history of drugs or alcohol use.

Answer your young person’s questions about your drug and alcohol use honestly to point that you feel comfortable. This is different for everyone. Also share how you would have done things differently given the opportunity and why.

Make sure you share the potential consequences for drug and alcohol use.

Lie about family history.

Avoid answering questions altogether.

Share about past drug and alcohol use and not share about why this was dangerous or what the potential consequences could have been.

Sit and listen to your child when they need to talk Tell them “later” or brush it off. It is important they know they can come to you whenever
Let your child know that if they have a serious problem you are on their side and you just want the best for them Yell at them or walk away
Acknowledge and Encourage your child when they come to you in crisis and remain calm Minimize or overreact to the crisis (Don’t forget, your child may be experiencing these circumstances for the very first time.)
Acknowledge and Encourage your child’s honesty when they admit a wrongdoing. Allow yourself time to consider a natural and logical consequence. Overreact in the heat of the moment by yelling, screaming or Implementing a consequence that we will regret or not be able to live with Later.
Acknowledge and Encourage your child when they come to you in crisis and remain calm Minimize or overreact to the crisis (Don’t forget, your child may be experiencing these circumstances for the very first time.)
Talk to your child about some of the concerns you have or some of the signs/symptoms you’ve been noticing. Be prepared in advance and know what resources/support are available. Accuse them of using any illicit substances or having a problem unless you have proof and a really strong reason to believe they are misusing/abusing substances, . Be without resources or support available if they are in need of assistance.
Answer questions your child may have and actively listen to any thoughts, stories, or ideas. Criticize any of their thoughts, questions, or ideas
Pay attention to their needs as well as the time and place you talk to them Try to talk to them when they are tired, already in a bad mood, may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or in a place that has no privacy.

Healthy Behaviors/Coping Skills of Young Adults

Coping Skills: What are they and why are they important?

  • Coping skills are a way to help an individual minimize, tolerate, and deal with whatever stressor they are facing in life.
  • Developing healthy coping mechanisms is an essential skill to have. Young adults experience a lot of pressure and stress, and it is crucial that they know how to cope with this in a positive way. Developing coping skills may take time. Some things work better than others, and it may also take practice. Some young adults may struggle to find a coping mechanism that works for them or may be unaware of the wide range of possibilities out there.
  • As a guardian, you can help educate your young adult about healthy coping skills and help them by introducing different skills or possibilities for coping.
  • There are essentially thousands of different ways to cope. Being aware of your child’s like and dislikes, hobbies, and other activities they find joy in is helpful in guiding them to find the mechanism that works best. Below are just a few examples of different ways to cope, but know that coping strategies are certainly not just limited to what you see here.

Positive Coping Skills

  • Writing in a journal
  • Painting/drawing
  • Photography
  • Exercising
  • Singing
  • Playing an instrument
  • Dancing
  • Organizing/cleaning environment around you
  • Reading
  • Spending time with your pet or other animals
  • Meditation/deep breathing
  • Yoga
  • Talking to someone you trust
  • Taking a break and watching an episode of your favorite show
  • Volunteering
  • Spending quality time with family or friends
  • Play sports
  • Doing something that makes you laugh
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Go out in nature
  • Engaging in spirituality
  • Seeing a counselor/therapist

While it is great to be aware of some of the positive coping skills, it is also important to be aware of some of the negative coping skills a young adult may use as well. There are other negative coping skills than just what you see here, but these are some of the most common negative coping mechanisms of a young adult.

Negative Coping Skills

  • Drinking excessively or every day
  • Using drugs
  • Bottling up and ignoring feelings
  • Self-mutilation
  • Taking stimulants or sedatives
  • Over working/over scheduling
  • Being in denial/avoiding problems
  • Not opening up and talking to anyone
  • Over sleeping
  • Over eating or under eating