When you think of your child’s substance abuse, I imagine you think of it as one great big problem that needs to be solved all at once. That is not true. Your child’s substance use is a problem with a whole host of other problems attached like communication, behaviour, friend choices, school attendance and performance and the list goes on and on. This framework will give you a strategy to solve any problem.
There are 7 steps for solving problems. This approach will help you work through the problem systematically and thoroughly. You can do the steps on your own or with your child. I suggest you do them with your child because you want him to have input and come up with a solution that he will do. This exercise is a waist of time if you are not putting yourself in his shoes and looking at it from his perspective. What better way to get his perspective than to do it together?
You probably already use some of these steps we are going to talk about. Give yourself plenty of credit having this information. What you don’t already know will take practice. You are developing new skills and when we are practicing we will make mistakes and need to be patient with ourselves. Remember too that your child is learning new skills too and he needs to practice as well. It is good for him to see you make mistakes. It gives him permission to make mistakes too.
Step One – Define the Problem Often what people think as the problem is actually a bunch of smaller problems all rolled into one big problem.
Step 2 – Brainstorming
Brainstorm as many ideas as possible that could be solutions to the problem. There are no stupid or silly ideas. Everything is relevant at this stage. No judging and no inner critic. Come up with as many ideas as you can. It will make it easier to find one that works for you and your child.
Step 3 – Examine the Possibilities
Go back to your list and look at all your brilliant possibilities more closely.
Which ones are completely unappealing? Cross them out.
Which ones have too many downsides? Cross them out.
Which ones are unrealistic? Cross them out.
What are you left with?
Step 4 – Pick One
This step is almost like goal setting. You have to be accountable in this one. You also need to be realistic in that you need to choose something you are willing to do this week.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Step 5 – Identify Obstacles
Identify any obstacles or barriers that could interfere with you completing the chosen solution. By anticipating the problems or concerns, you can have a plan in place and you and the obstacles won’t overwhelm your teen. You will have more emotional resilience because you have already about the concerns and what to do about them.
Step 6 – Design Strategies
Have a plan to deal with the problems, issues and concerns that come up. Be specific and realistic. You don’t want the obstacles to stop you because you are overwhelmed or don’t know how to deal with them. The more you plan, the less chance the issues will derail you because you are overwhelmed or don’t know what to do.
Step 7 – Evaluate the Process
After you’ve carried out your plan evaluate the process.
Ask yourself the following questions:
This is how we practice and figure out what works and what doesn’t. We can also see how to improve the process for next time.
It is important to track what you are doing and the results. Tracking helps us see, on paper what works and what doesn’t. Many of us trust our memories and they fail us because we are incredibly busy. By tracking what you do and how it works, you can see your progress as you practice, your teen’s progress as your work through issues, what needs to be done differently and what is working well. You will gather information that is useful every time you practice this process.
Now that you have a framework and an outline to deal with the problems, you can break them down and they will be much more manageable and less overwhelming. The advantage to breaking them down when you are working with your addicted child is he won’t get offended as easily because the problem is smaller and you are working with him to find a solution.
Knowledge is the key to developing new skills to help your addicted child. You can learn more skills at Families Do Recover and you can register for courses you can take at home. I am available if you need additional support or counselling.
is a Vancouver-based Addictions Specialist and Family Therapist with training and experience in numerous areas related to healing and recovery from the devastation of addiction & alcoholism.