Why tough love doesn't work when child is doing drugs

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Why tough love doesn't work when child is doing drugs

When our child is addicted, the first thing we do is we can´t ignore it and we can´t postpone getting help. The longer we wait, the worse it can get. But also there are other things that we have to realize is that we love our kids and we want them to be safe and we want to take care of them. And we are so scared that something terrible is going to happen to them. So if a child is out using, we want to help them still. We don´t want to be hungry. We don´t want them to be sleeping on the streets, so we are tempted. This happens all the time. A child will call up and say I need some money because I haven´t eaten in two days or something like that. Giving an addict money is equated to giving someone who is suicidal a gun because most likely somebody who is using, an addict who is using is going to use money to get drugs. So we don´t want to what they call enable them. We don´t want to do anything that can make it easier for them to use. We are often told that we have to draw these kind of hard lines and use this kind of tough love thing and sort of isolate your children and even kick them out of the house unless they will go in and get treated. That´s the worst advice that we get. I mean it is really, really dangerous. Tough love, I mean I say we don´t want to use tough love. We want to use love. We want to understand that our kids are in trouble, and we have to get them in treatment whatever it takes. We have to get them help. We need to get them to see they have this sort of identification process that doctors who are trained have, and it is the process. It is called espert. So it is to determine if there is a problem. And if there is a problem to do a brief intervention, and if there is a more serious problem, we want to instantly get them into treatment. We want to do an intervention, what is required.

Watch David Sheff's video on Why tough love doesn't work when child is doing drugs...


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David Sheff


David Sheff is the author of Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, the follow-up to his New York Times #1 bestseller, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s AddictionClean is the result of the years Sheff spent investigating the disease of addiction and America’s drug problem, which he sees as the greatest public-health challenge of our time.

Beautiful Boy was based on Sheff’s article, “My Addicted Son,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine and won an award from the American Psychological Association for “outstanding contribution to the understanding of addiction.”  It was named the nonfiction book of the year by Entertainment Weekly.  

Named to the Time 100, Time Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Influential People, Sheff also won the 2013 College of Problems on Drug Dependence Media Award. Sanjay Gupta, MD, said, "As a clear-eyed chronicler of addiction, David is without peer.”

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