Handling a drug abuser

2008-06-27 00:00

Cedric Parker,Nalini Naidoo who ran a ToughLove Support Group in Westville, Durban, has moved to Pietermaritzburg and will be running a six-week ToughLove course at Wykeham Collegiate.

Parker, who got involved in the programme six years ago because of a family member’s drug addiction, said he joined to get help for himself. “The programme helped me to modify my own behaviour in response to the addict’s behaviour.”

He said he decided to run the course when he met a family in the city who were having similar problems. He also found that statistics from the local office of the South African National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (Sanca) showed that over the past five years there has been a significant increase in the incidence of substance abuse among young people. “The problem is often exacerbated by the co-dependant behaviour of parents, who try to shield their children from the consequences of the bad choices they make,” said Parker.

Sandy Lund, clinical services manager at Sanca said parents of children abusing drugs or alcohol will find the course extremely useful. “Parents find themselves in denial. This kind of behaviour sneaks up on you. At first you think it is typical juvenile delinquent behavior, ToughLove teaches you about the symptoms of drug dependency. Once you realise that the child has a problem, you need guidance on how to put down boundaries in a supportive and structured way.”

She added that the programme is hugely helpful for parents to deal with emotional blackmail. “An addict’s projection mode makes the family feel it is their fault they’ve become substance abusers. Family members don’t have to walk around with feelings of guilt.”

Lund said ToughLove also offers the parents support if their child gets in trouble with the law. “I remember a patient of mine; his parents were in a ToughLove meeting when they received a call that he was arrested for drunk driving. The group went with them and showed that in ToughLove we do not bail them out, we will come and see them, provide support, but also take a stand.”

Parker said he is grateful to Wykeham Collegiate for making their facilities available for the programme. He said when he contacted the principal Judith Brown, she was willing to assist, saying that as a school they would like to put something back into the community.

The course will start on July 17. It is open to any family members faced with the unacceptable behaviour of another family member. The cost of the six-week course is R150 per family. To enrol or for more details, phone Cedric Parker at 083 278 8889.

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