1. Don’t Be Naïve

Naïve — (of a person) being too innocent and trusting — is a fatal flaw when it comes to addiction.

The only safe action when dealing with possible drug abuse or addiction is to eliminate naiveté entirely, no matter how much it hurts. A naive person is too willing to believe that a loved one is telling the truth, even when the evidence strongly suggests otherwise. Families get caught in this trap because the loved one was always able to be trusted before. When the effects of alcoholism, drug abuse or addiction begin to show their faces, and until a person completes a rehab program that really gets through to him, all bets are off. Being naive about alcohol or drug abuse can be—and too often is—a fatal mistake.

How to do it wrong: A high school student’s grades fall. He drops out of a number of clubs or activities. His friends change. When his parents question him, he claims that he was tired of those activities and his teachers are picking on him. He’s always been so trustworthy that the family buys these stories and leave him alone till much later when the damage is much harder to repair.

How to do it right: Parents question him about the changes. They refuse to be naive about this matter because they know that these signs commonly mean drug abuse. They talk to teachers and some of the former friends. They hear about more symptoms that might mean drug use. They escort their son to the family doctor and ask for a drug test. The positive drug test gives them real evidence that lets them know that further action is needed.

NEXT: 2. Don’t Be an ‘Enabler’

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