We are in the middle of a national crisis, a drug epidemic that is killing our children at an extremely rapid rate. Your average parent doesn’t know anything about opioids, addiction, or recovery. Most people are busy working hard to pay their bills and support their families. Most parents never even considered that their children could eventually become drug addicts.

I went on Google and looked up the phrase what is addiction today, and there were 211,000,000 answers. I also looked up the phrase what is recovery and found 103,000,000 answers on Google. Imagine that you are a parent, and you just found out that the son or daughter that you love with all of your heart, the child that you have raised and taken care of for the past seventeen years is shooting heroin! You know nothing about addiction or recovery, what would you do? There is more misinformation on the internet than there is valid information when it comes to addiction and recovery. How is it even possible that there are 211,000,00 answers for addiction, and 103,000,000 for recovery, that’s insane! As a parent new to addiction, you are already going to be scared, hurt, angry, and confused; where do you go to get the answers that you desperately need to help save your child?

“Parents are key when it comes to keeping kids off drugs. Good parenting is the best anti-drug we have.” – Mel Carnahan

The first thing that parents need to know is that there are plenty of charlatans in the recovery field who are willing to take their money. You can’t just trust people or businesses at face value; you must do your due diligence and research to fact find. The best way to find good professionals is through testimonials of former clients. You can always tell successful people by the fruit that they produce. Video testimonials are the best unless you can actually talk to the real clients. There are so many families that have been touched by the disease of addiction today. Someone in your neighborhood, family, or friends knows something about addiction. If their son had a drug problem and is now clean and sober, ask them where he went for treatment, how he did it, etc. Know that you are helping to fight for your son or daughter’s very life. You must be willing to do whatever it takes to get between your child and the drugs that are stealing their lives from them. You will have to make some hard choices going forward, harder choices than perhaps you have ever had to make in your life. Addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful, an insidious foe!

There are three factors that will help us to save our children from addiction: Awareness, Education, and Prevention. Parents need to be aware of: changes in their child’s actions and behaviors, that their child has a problem, aware that the problem impacts the whole family, aware that there is hope and help, aware of what the problem is, what the solution is, and the program of action to change it, aware of the support systems available and aware that they are not alone. Parents need to be educated on: what to do when they find out that their child has a drug problem, educated about what not to do, emerging street drugs, are there drugs hidden in their house, educated about treatment modalities, detoxification, residential treatment, outpatient, partial hospitalization, case management, aftercare, recovery coaching, support groups, relapse prevention, manipulating, enabling, codependency, AMA, medication management, denial, interventions, counseling, therapy, dual diagnosis, family recovery coaching, and so much more. Prevention is getting kids that haven’t gone down the wrong road as of yet to listen, and stay away from heroin and other dangerous drugs. To utilize all the tools that we have to save as many young lives as we can through prevention measures.

Once parents find good, qualified professionals to help their loved ones, they need to let them do their jobs. While their son or daughter is in treatment to change and starting to get well, the parents should attend a support group for themselves at the same time. Make sure that there are not any drugs in the house; do a sweep of the house looking for any possible hidden drugs .The parents may want to consider hiring a professional family recovery coach; they work with the family helping them to cope with having addiction in the family and have the skills, tools, and knowledge to help the parents to handle the entire situation, perhaps in a much better way than they would on their own. A recovery coach works only with the substance abuser and the family recovery coach works only with the family of the substance abuser.

There are many different modalities of treatment today; not everyone recovers from addiction the same way. Some individuals respond better to one modality than they do to another. For example, the twelve steps are not for everyone; some individuals choose holistic recovery, smart recovery, faith-based, or Christian recovery, or other modalities to recover from addiction.

One of the biggest misconceptions that families have is that when a family member goes to treatment for thirty days, that they are going to come home and be fixed. Recovery is a process that takes time; it’s not going to happen in thirty days. There are no shortcuts. It’s important for anyone new to recovery to get a solid foundation to build their new sober life upon. Remember that anyone going into treatment for the first time is going to have some reservations, they are going to have some fear, and at some point may panic and want to use drugs again. It’s important that the family stands united and committed; should your loved one in treatment start to complain and want to come home, stay strong for them. It’s addiction calling their name; don’t give in!

Aftercare is crucial to a successful long-term recovery. Research has shown that long-term aftercare leads to long-term sobriety. Case managers, recovery coaches, sponsors, sober housing, counseling, support groups, and therapy can be factors for a successful long-term aftercare.

Certainly, for parents, there are plenty of books on addiction and recovery, magazines, DVDs, videos, and the internet. There is a plethora of information for parents to sift through. I would suggest that parents stick with those who are tried, tested, and proven as successful in saving lives, not just theories. They say in the rooms of recovery, “Stick with the winners!” That’s probably the best advice.

No parent should have to bury their child because of addiction. There are great organizations to support parents such as Al-Anon, Families Anonymous and Nar-Anon. Through education, awareness, and prevention, many young lives can and will be saved. Recovery is a fact. There are thousands of individuals living in long-term recovery in our nation today.

Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin, Ph.D. is a Master Coach, trainer, writer, poet, speaker, a Diplomate Christian counselor and therapist. He is Board Certified in Family, Developmental, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Grief Counseling. The Reverend is a NCIP interventionist, a Domestic Violence Advocate, Associate Professor for DCU, a Provincial Superintendent (to be consecrated a Bishop in the spring of 2016 and an expert in the field of Addiction and Recovery. He is the Director of New Beginning Ministry, Inc., a Residential Recovery Center and President and CEO of Phase IIC Coaching, LLC. He is a published author and has published thousands of poems and articles published throughout the United States and other Nations.