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Preventing Adderall Addiction Relapse: Empathy Tips for Parents

A father and his adult son unloading the car after a semester at college.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do to help a person in recovery from stimulant addiction is to learn how to really and truly listen.


“You never really understand another person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

This quote, from “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, is a good guide to understanding—and helping—those in recovery for stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin.

Your college-aged child had everything going for him or her. You paid for all the tutoring that helped land great test scores and opened the doors to a top—and very expensive—college.

Your child had every advantage. How could he or she have blown it so badly?

How to Develop Empathy

It’s easy to forget the pressure that can come with opportunity. Yes, your son or daughter made it into a good college, but then they needed to perform. The majority of college students who get addicted to stimulants start out with good intentions—to study better and longer.

Understanding that reality is a big part of being able to help your son or daughter in recovery. Here are a few things to consider.

  • Has your child always excelled at school?
  • What kind of standards has your child set for himself or herself?
  • How did your child adjust to the workload at college?
  • Does your child have a particularly demanding major or an especially tough professor?
  • Is your child a perfectionist?

It may be that your son or daughter feels more pressure—or is less equipped to deal with pressure—than you were. Unless you’re able to empathize with his or her situation, it will be very hard to fully understand and support your child’s recovery.

Can empathy be learned? Of course it can. One of the best ways to do that is by listening hard (some call it “radical listening”). In a conversation with your adult child, for example, don’t rush to fill gaps or get your two cents in. Focus on what he or she is saying, digest it and try to imagine life in their shoes. Ask yourself what your son or daughter is feeling and also what they seem to need.

Don’t rush to “fix” things. Instead, try to understand the situation—from your son or daughter’s perspective.

About The Raleigh House

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that believes addiction isn’t just a physical problem. Our master’s level trained therapists get to the root cause of addiction through counseling for drug abuse. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the stimulant addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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