Students with Addictive Behavior: Seven Steps to Take

AddictiveThe stress of school can lead many students to cope with their problems through substance abuse.[1] However, fixing the problem isn’t always easy as many are young adults who must choose to climb out of addiction themselves.1 There are ways that you can lead them on this journey to freedom.1

  1. Address the Problem. The issue of addiction must be addressed, as denial can damage all parties involved.1 This is a difficult and often messy conversation, but in order to help the student, reality must be defined.1 The first rule in any 12-Step program is to admit you have a problem.1 Until this happens, the journey to sobriety cannot commence.1
  2. Apply Discipline, Not Punishment. There is a distinct difference between the two: punishment looks backward at the fault and reacts in anger, while discipline looks forward and acts redemptively.1 Students who have an addiction do not need any more punishment—they need more discipline.1
  3. Build Healthy Self-Esteem. Affirm the good qualities the student exhibits on the inside, such as courage, honesty, compassion, cheerfulness, intelligence, and respect.1 Only affirm what is true and help them build their self-esteem back up with reality and not flattery or exaggerated claims.1
  4. Get Accountability and Support Yourself. Do not enter into a journey of helping a student out of addiction without having sources of encouragement and accountability for yourself.1 Both you and the student need support if you are going to stay healthy and strong during this journey to sobriety.1
  5. Demonstrate Firm Leadership. As a teacher, parent, guidance counselor, or other leader, you will likely need to tighten the reigns of leadership.1 Anyone who is addicted to something becomes a master of manipulating others into believing they are fine.1 They are able to persuade others that they can be trusted with freedom.1 You need to see past this.
  6. Communicate Constantly and Transparently. During interventions, it is almost impossible to over-communicate; therefore, talk to the student as well as their doctor, counselor, or any other parties involved.1 Keep the lines of communication open and model honest disclosure and transparency.1
  7. Find the Right Counselor. Identifying the correct counselor is of utmost importance.1 There are many good ones and bad ones out there practicing today.1 One that sees the big picture, displays actual concern for the student, and can be both tough and tender in sessions is the right pick.1

It is important for those around students with addictions to open up and try to help them overcome their disease.1 It is not an easy journey, and the more support they have, the better off they will be.1

[1] Elmore, T. (2013, December 5). Six Steps to Take with Students who have Addictive Behavior. Psychology Today. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/artificial-maturity/201312/six-steps-take-students-who-have-addictive-behavior

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