When your son or daughter is addicted to a substance – whether it’s alcohol, prescription drugs, or an illegal drug – it’s hard not to get desperate. The thought that their next fix may be their last fix is harrowing. Seeing them lose everything important in life is crushing – it rips out your heart. Watching them transform into a person you could have never imagined possible is devastating. You’ll do anything to get them to stop using. Sometimes, that “anything” is the right thing… But most of the time, it’s not. Most of the time, it’s begging, pleading, bargaining and bribing. I’m here to tell you that bribing your child out of addiction and into recovery doesn’t work. I can’t begin to tell you that I know how to raise a child. I’m not a parent, and I don’t pretend to be. What I am however, is a Treatment Specialist. I am an unbiased expert guiding you and helping you during the darkest time in your life. I know that you’re afraid. I know that you’re angry and frustrated. I know that there is not an hour that goes by where you don’t worry about where your child is and if you going to see them again. Loving someone in active addiction is terrifying and when you don’t have anyone to help you figure what to do to help them – you may resort to bribing, compromising, or bargaining. And even though you’re doing all of this out of love, you need to know that you may be loving your child to death. When you’re faced with one of the most challenging and painful experiences of your life – it’s not always easy to tell the difference between hurting and helping. Let me share with you some of the top bribes I’ve heard – and why they just won’t help get your child into treatment. “If you will clean up your act, I will buy you a car.” It is not an uncommon experience for people struggling with addiction to sober up for a certain time period in order to get something. Especially a car. This kind of bribe is especially dangerous because may give you some short-term glimmers of hope. Maybe your son will start showing up for dinner, even go to church with you on Sunday morning – something he hasn’t done in months. You may be tricked by how much better he looks physically – he’s clean shaven and trimmed up. He looks the best he has in a long time! This can’t last. It won’t last without proper addiction treatment. At most, he’ll keep up with it for 6 months before he returns to using. And then you’ll be in for an even bigger mess. The honest truth is that if your child is using opiates or benzodiazepines you don’t want them operating a vehicle. Besides all the fees that come with an impounded or wrecked car, raised insurance and an ongoing car note – you’re putting their life in even further danger. Your son or daughter needs you to spend your hard earned money on treatment to save his or her life. Don’t make it easier on him to get to the dope man. “If you stop drinking, I will pay for your college.” I know that it sounds like having your son or daughter in college sounds like it would give them responsibility and structure – a brighter future, higher education. Going to college would fill his time with exams, papers and studying. He would have less time to mess around and make the poor decisions he is currently making while drinking his days away. The reality is that addiction is not a series of poor decisions and bad behaviors. Alcoholism is a disease that no amount of self-knowledge or higher education can cure. Only treatment help can put this disease in remission. I’m begging you to take the money that you would spend on tuition and use it to save his or her life. It’s not going to get any better than it is right now. “If you stop using heroin, I will pay for treatment at a suboxone clinic.” First and foremost, I am a fan of anything that will get a needle out of your loved one’s arm. Heroin is dangerous and deadly. You never know if this dose will be the one that your child doesn’t wake up from. If your son or daughter is using heroin, they run the risk of getting hurt, killed or put in jail. . Let me be abundantly clear about drug replacement therapy. Drug replacement therapy is simply switching the addiction from one drug for another. There is no addiction treatment, psychiatrist, dual-diagnosis therapy, life skills development or spiritual healing at the suboxone doctor. This is a cash only doctor willing to keep your child on a prescription for a year or longer. Drug replacement therapy is a small band-aid on a gaping wound. And unfortunately, experience tells us that without treatment, clients eventually begin selling their suboxone for cash in order to buy their drug of choice. This puts you back to square one. And it’s an ugly square. “If you promise that this is the last time, I will pay the dealer off for you.” I cannot begin to count how many times a family member has told me this. If you are doing this for your child, stop, because this “gift of sobriety” comes with a gift receipt. And your son or daughter is only going to take their sobriety back to their dealer. I understand that you are afraid that someone is going to kill your son or burn down your house if you don’t do this. And I know that you feel like you can’t call the police to protect you from the dealer, because what your son is doing is illegal. What I can tell you this: Unless your child was moving drugs like Scarface, not too much is going to happen. More than likely, the dope man isn’t going to sell to your son or daughter anymore. The drug game is a business. If the customer can’t afford to purchase the merchandise, then the business closes up shop. But here is what is going to happen if you do pay and continue to pay: Your son is going to continue to use drugs. This is going to happen because he knows that if he scares you enough, cries enough, threatens enough, you will pay. The dope man is going to continue to sell your son drugs because even though he can’t pay for them, you can. And he knows you will. In the end, if he overdoses your money is the reason why. What actually works. No amount of bribing will actually help your son or daughter. But you know what will? The right drug treatment program that will treat them mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. You can’t save your child’s life by getting them into a new car or college classes – but you CAN save your child’s life by getting them into treatment. I know it’s not easy to tell them this is what they need. But if your son or daughter is struggling with addiction – nothing has been easy for a while. Stop wasting your time, your money, your energy and even your own safety and do something that will actually change the situation. Here’s what to START doing.
- START talking to them about the problem. This is where the solution begins.
- START looking at insurance. If your son or daughter isn’t on your insurance, it’s worth helping them get a plan.
- START seeking out an interventionist. This isn’t something you need to do alone – and there are professionals to help.
- START researching treatment programs. Someone struggling with addiction needs to heal mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually – and the only way to get that help is with the right program.
- START getting help for yourself. Addiction is a family disease. While your child has suffered, you have too. It’s time to heal as a family. Most treatment programs can help you do this.
Ultimately, you need to put you and your child struggling with addiction in a position to receive help. Real help, real solutions – no barters, no band-aids. Stop hurting – and start truly helping.