Parents facing their children’s addiction: “understanding is not acceptable”

The cross: How do you explain that a young person is switching to addiction?

Muriel Lascaux: There is no typical profile or criteria indicating that such a family will be confronted with addictive behaviors. However, there are risk factors, including genetics and family history. There are also individual factors: impulsivity, anxiety, difficulty making friends … Some personalities are more vulnerable. But a reassuring environment of relational quality plays a significant role in preventing the development of occasional consumption into addiction.

→ ANALYSIS. Cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy: how to help our teens protect themselves from drugs

How do parents react when they find out that their child is using drugs?

ML: Faced with their responsibilities, they are invaded by disturbing emotions: a legitimate concern, potential guilt over not having seen before, and a sense of helplessness. The young person, however, consumes to regulate an emotional disorder. To accompany it, the parent must be able to control his or her own emotions.

We need to get out of this dialogue between deaf people between parents who say: “It’s dangerous, we have to stop everything” and young people who answer: “It gives me joy, I can not see the problem”. For them, the product is a means and not an end. They seek well-being. They smoke cannabis to relax, e.g. In the beginning, there is never a will to destroy oneself.

In addition, teenagers often arrange for parents to be brought to discover their consumption and ask for help because they do not succeed themselves.

What attitude should parents take?

ML: They are often split between two positions: letting go of things, given that the problem will be solved with age (which is neither entirely true nor completely false) or being oppressive (preventing the young person from going out, suppressing their pocket money , control its frequencies …).

The question is not to be lax or strict, but to establish a constructive dialogue, a relationship of trust to try to understand, even before looking for solutions. To understand is not to accept, and frameworks and rules must be established. By trying to eradicate the danger at all costs, you risk breaking the relationship and not having an influence. A teenager listens better if he feels understood.

→ OPINIONS. Cannabis, witnesses families

When and who should we consult?

ML: When the anxiety is too strong, when we can not talk to the teenager or when the consequences of his consumption on his life are too important. “The Young Consumer Consultations” is made for it. We can go there with the family or without the child if it does not want to go. Sometimes this is enough for parents to find in themselves resources and skills to act.

For others, the road will be more difficult and it will be necessary to hold on in the long run. Do not isolate yourself and take care of yourself so as not to burn out. Some parents find support in family or friends, others in a support group. It is important that they can breathe and take a step back.



– A movie : Everything to be happy?

In this touching documentary, Jérôme Adam, whose brother died of drug and alcohol addiction, compares his experience with relatives of addicted people. Screening dates in France at

→ CRITICAL. “Everything to Be Happy”, a unique film about addiction

A book :

Video games, alcohol, cannabis. Prevent and support your teen,

directed by Dr. Olivier Phan,

Solar edition, 368 pages, 13 €.

Overview of the most common addictions in adolescence and advice for parents on the attitude to adopt.

The national portal Drug information services are a mine of information about drugs and their effects (drug dictionary), about the means to detect problematic consumption, with addresses to get help. A chat allows you to chat live, and the number 0800 23 13 13 receives anonymous and free calls 7 days a week, from 8.00 to 02.00.

Young consumer consultations

Led by addiction and youth professionals, “Young Consumer Consultations” (CJC), present in almost all French departments (400 in the whole area), offer young people aged 12 to 25 free of charge and / or their parents to enable them to take stock of their consumption of cannabis and other illegal products, but also of tobacco, alcohol, video games, etc.

They take place in specialized Centers for Addiction Support and Prevention (CSAPA), in youth centers and other reception centers for young people.

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