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Do Threats Ever Work?

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Child' started by Rainman, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    Do threats ever work? I've heard of parents who use threats to get their kids to stop using drugs. To be honest I doubt that this method would work because the kid could still continue using drugs but stay away from their parents when they are "high."

    So while the parents might think the threats worked, their child would still be using drugs and by the time they realize that their kids still are using drugs it might be too late to help them. What else would they have in their arsenal to use, if threats is all they had?

    Any advice you'd offer parents who think using threats is a good way to get their kids to stop using drugs?
  2. SashaS

    SashaS Community Champion

    Exposing them to the negative effects of drugs may persuade some of them to at least consider stopping. I don't think it's the only thing you should do but if you've tried everything else and for some reason cannot stop your own children from doing drugs, then threats may work. Not only threatening them of the negative effects of drugs, but threatening to send them to prison or out of the house. I know that sounds harsh, but if you want your children to stop drugs, it's a measure worth taking, in my opinion.

    It may expose some kids to thing's they didn't know by telling them the negative effects of drugs, even if you need to exaggerate a little. I think it's definitely a consideration a parent should make.
    Rainman likes this.
  3. darkrebelchild

    darkrebelchild Community Champion

    Threats do work if the child is scared of the parent. The same method was used on myself and my siblings while growing up. My mother, who was the most feared parent who would threaten us about the danger of drugs, drinking, parties and sex.

    Her words always loomed in my head whenever these words were mentioned among my friends. It did pay off though, we were all raised responsibly.
    Rainman likes this.
  4. monty

    monty Active Contributor

    I don't think so because if any child is being afraid of their own parents and family members then he can take the step that he should not and can be in a situation from where recovery is very painful
    parents should be polite to their child and teach them and support them always and not to scare their child all the time which can lead to lose of one precious life and a responsible and our youth from this world
    So, be a good parent in life and let your wards do what they like, believe me, you will be proud of you and your son one day.
  5. Momma9

    Momma9 Community Champion

    I was afraid of my father and his threats (I was convinced I would be struck dead by God at any moment in my teens!), but it didn't stop me from doing drugs and making bad choices. It just made me sneaky.

    I suppose we are all different in our reactions, but I would rather my children be honest with me and have boundaries that I enforce with them instead of threats that alienate them. My children know that they can come to me for help with anything and I will not judge them.

    Now I do have a meth addicted daughter in prison, so maybe my way doesn't work! But I also have 8 other children who do not drink or smoke or do drugs and are productive members of society. In part because of my oldest daughter who does do drugs. They have seen how her life is wrecked and how painful it is for the rest of us and do not want any part of that.
  6. KittenMittens

    KittenMittens Member

    Typically threats only engender distrust and resentment. Deprivation encourages use, taking things away, removing freedom or stimulation, will likely give the child nothing better to do than invent new ways to access the forbidden fruit. When electrodes are implanted in the pleasure-centers of laboratory rats within Skinner boxes (minimalist cage, one rat/unit) these animals will stimulate themselves until they die, avoiding food, sex and sleep for the pleasures generated by the switch. (Frank & Stutz “Self-Deprivation: A Review”). However, when put in an enriched environment with plenty of activities and companionship with the option of drugged water, rats typically choose to drink regular water, very few display patterns of addiction. (Bruce Alexander “Opiate addiction: The case for an adaptive orientation"). Human children aren't rats, but I think these experiments are good jumping-off points for understanding how punishment rather than support encourages addiction. We should educate children, not scare them.

    Of course, this is coming from a child of an addict. I learned the dangers of addiction through experience and vowed from a very young age never to let myself go down that path. I was "scared straight" and never looked back. However, my brother didn't learn from my mom's example in quite the same way, and I've seen studies suggesting children of alcoholics are up to 4 times more likely to drink heavily than the general population. Always remember: every child is completely unique, what works for one won't necessarily work for the other.
  7. monty

    monty Active Contributor

    No, in my opinion, it never works.Explaining any child with kind and love works and the words enter his/her heart but scolding or threatening any child never works as he might think that his/her parents don't love him/her and as a result he might take a wrong step.
  8. Momma9

    Momma9 Community Champion

    I would add to @KittenMittens comments that filling young persons' time with productive activities would be a better alternative. The teens and early 20's are a time of peak energy and creativity. They need something to occupy their mind and fill up their time. I encourage my children to be active in activities that they enjoy; music, sports, church, drama, school, reading, etc. Whatever they enjoy doing! And especially if it involves adults and peers that are good role models!! This way they do not have a lot of free time on their hands to find trouble.
  9. Mara

    Mara Community Champion

    Threats do not work. Because that is just what they are, threats. They are just mere words and have no bearing at all. But if the parent will act on what he has promised, for example, "I will send you to rehab," or "I will call the police and have you arrested," I believe in tough love and I think that it has a higher chance of working than mere threats.
    Zyni likes this.
  10. Zyni

    Zyni Community Champion

    I agree with this. Empty threats don't work in any situation. In the case of addiction, I think it's even more pronounced, since even with follow through it's often not enough. People have to be ready to recover, in my opinion and experience. Often times, they are willing to take the risk of being arrested or something. It may be the only choice the parent has, to save their child though.
    Mara likes this.
  11. rjs5248

    rjs5248 Member

    No, I don't believe threats are effective.

    The problem is, if someone wants to do something badly enough they will find a way to do it. The only thing a threat will do is make the person hide their actions to avoid having the threat carried out.

    An excellent example of this was my own parents...a few years ago they found out that I was consuming alcohol. Not that I was getting wasted at my parents house, but I grew up in a strict traditional Christian household in which my parents firmly believed any type of alcohol consumption was wrong. My parents threatened to kick me out of the house if they found out that I was drinking in their home again. To me this was silly, because having a couple glasses of wine in your own home is much safer than going to a bar and driving home drunk. The only thing this changed was I became an expert at hiding my alcohol!

    The only time a threat actually works is if the threat itself is carried out...which depending on the situation and what's at stake, may be necessary. Otherwise that's all it is, an empty threat.
  12. Lostinvoid

    Lostinvoid Member

    Hello, I think I might be able to give you some good info. Im 23, and live with my mom. Thru my addiction I heard every threat in the book. That she would call the cops, which she eventually did! But I would come out of jail wanting to use even more, each time also getting smarter on how to hide it and get money for it. So jail was completely useless for teaching me a lesson, and it wasn't preventing me from using. The jail I was at in mansfield, ohio had plenty of meth on the inside. I will admit this usually isn't the case tho. Usually going to jail does mean theres going to be no drugs, but isn't always the case. Another concern is your child Meeting new connections/dealers while locked up. I was also forced to do inpatient and outpatient rehab a couple times in order to live with Her. This definitely was more useful than jail, i actually learned more about addiction and for the first time get some things off my chest in group therapy. Sadly, even tho it taught me a lot, this was STILL not enough to make me quit using. Although i think this route DOES probably work for some, especially ones with underlying mental health issues at the root of there addiction. What I'm going to say next is going to sound rough, because it IS. The only thing that ever got me to stop using for a little while (even though I would still eventually go back to using) was my mom finally having enough and kicking me out of the house. Also contacting my father telling him not to let me stay. When I got kicked out, she gave me no money at all to survive before she did. I didn't even have a bag to pack any of my stuff in. I left the house with the clothes on my back, my cellphone which no longer worked cuz they cut my bill, and absolutely nothing else. I was forced to try to find friends and eventually I did after walking on foot for days with only free water from restraunts or bathroom sinks. No food at all. I ran into 3 homeless girls in circleville, ohio. This place is meth capital. They would be the ones to take me in and show me the ropes. These girls had no fear, they would go into walmart, fill a shopping cart with hundreds of dollars worth of items and just walk right out the door. We were all living in tents that were stolen, on private land getting the cops called daily. We would have to travel so far on foot to try and find a discreet place to stay. The cops would come run our names for warrants and shoo us away, trying to give us the best advice they ccould. Where we were at the homeless shelter was completely FULL and there was no food pantry. This meant every single meal that we ate was stolen or from a kind stranger. The employees at these stores knew we were stealing food, but felt so bad we were never charged for it. I came to the realization that my luck with these girls was going to run out, committing all these crimes just to survive. After about three weeks I was desperate and I asked to use a corner stores phone, which was NOT an easy task to get them to do. Thank god they did. I called my mom over and over again. She kept putting me thru voicemail thinking it was a telemarketer. By the grace of some divine spirit, she finally answered. I had told her everything about what had been going on and that I was in fear of my life. I told her about the girls i met and what we were having to do. Eventually, she decided to give me another chance but ONLY if I went thru very extensive treatment. Long story short, I was thrown to the wolves, left to die. Luckily my mom had a change of heart knowing I was going to end up dead. This whole situation, kicking it me out and cutting off communication was the ONLY thing to ever make me get my head on straight for a long time. I'm crying writing this remembering how terrifying and life threatening this was. So if you're kid is as bad as I was, it may require taking everything away from them to teach them a lesson and show them what there taking for granted. That experience taught me life lessons you could only learn going thru that. However, if you were going to go this route, there is some thing i will change. The first being getting your kid an ebt card which I didnt have at the time. My mom leaving me with no way to get food wasn't useful, just dangerous and cruel. That's why I suggest an ebt card, sure you can still technically sell the food stamps for drugs but you would be getting 50 cents for every dollar, at least where I'm at. But if your completely homeless, trust me that car WILL be used for food dont worry about that. Another thing i would change is give your kid some type of way to communicate with you. I had no way to contact anybody, even the police if i was In life threatening situation. Stick to your guns, but answer the phone periodically to check up on them. If you can, drop them off somewhere where ANY kind of bed is available. leaving them to sleep on the street is jus cruel too. You kick them out for awhile, I PROMISE it will knock some sense into them because it did me. There is always the chance theyll find a bad person that comes and takes them off the street. If this happens they may not learn a lesson, but this is pretty rare. I don't have kids myself but im sure itwill be obvious when to let them back into your life. just imagine pure desperation coming from a lost child. that's when you see if it worked. If this doesnr work, atleast you know youve tried the most extreme method of getting them help. At that point youve tried everything and there going to have to figure it out on there own. i stayed clean for a very long time after this happened to me so i know it is effective. I hope this helps you, and hopefully it never comes to this. Good luck.
    deanokat likes this.
  13. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    Thanks for sharing your experience and insight, @Lostinvoid. We appreciate you taking the time to post and wanting to help others.