How To Help Students Cope With Addiction, As A Teacher
Do you have a student who is also an addict or recovering in your classroom? This can be difficult for any teacher. You want to help them, but students so rarely like to talk to their teachers.
Here are a few tips on how you could change that and help the student recover:
Build a good relationship
You can always start by being a present person in their lives. They need to feel comfortable around you to accept your help and this is where you can act. Start talking to them on occasion and don’t be pushy. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to talk to you.
You can even start talking about something completely unrelated to education or their addiction as a way to show that you are just there for them.
While school remains an important thing in the student who has addiction issues life, it’s not theirs or their parents’ priority. This is a very dangerous situation and the student needs all of the support that they can get.
If you are not interested in being there for them, at the very least you could help them by being understanding when they haven’t finished their work on time, learned a new lesson or you could extend the deadlines for them. Tell your coworkers to do the same. Even if you don’t do all of this, simply understand that education may not be nearly as important as keeping this student alive.
Offer a safe place
“Rather than being a person who just feels sorry for them – this is the last thing they need – be the person who will listen. Students with addiction issues are often alone and while most people sympathise with them, what they really need is someone who will empathise and just be there for them,” says Mike Bell, a mental health and psychology writer at Oxessays and Revieweal.
Don’t push them either. Pushing them will push them away from you. Let them talk to you in their own time. They are struggling with so much that they are not ready for anyone overstepping their boundaries.
Engage them in therapeutic writing
One of the best things that you could do as a teacher is allow your student who is struggling with addiction a place to vent and let go of all bad feelings. During some of your classes or after school if possible, suggest writing as a way to get better.
While this isn’t the thing that will save them, it will help them cope with their addiction. Suggest topics and prompts they can write about. Suggest some good reads as well since this can help them write better.
Here are some tools that can help you introduce writing into their lives:
- Mywritingway and Academ advisor offer interesting writing guides that can help you get started with writing lessons with your student.
- Academized is a freewriting tool which can help you with useful tips on how to do freewriting and how it can help your student feel better.
- Bigassignmentsand Essay editing are writing blogs with helpful tips on both writing and helping people who are suffering from addiction.
Be a trusted person
There needs to be a lot of trust between you and your student. After you have already established a good relationship, you should build trust by allowing them to tell you things they are unable to share with anyone. Trust works both ways so it’s a good idea to tell them about some of your experiences related to their issues and help them draw conclusions from your stories. Your student will see that you trust them enough to share those stories so they will share theirs with you.
This is where the true test of trust comes in – you can’t share their stories with anyone, especially their parents, friends or anyone else in the school. Unless it’s really dangerous like them relapsing or someone bothering them, keep their secrets just for yourself. This is the only way you will retain that trust and get more insights into their world which will give you more opportunities to help them.
Boundaries are really important in this case. For one, you have to let them know that if you notice any strange behavior, you will have to react, that you will have to talk to their parents if they even mention the relapse. You will have to report any problems.
These are just some examples but you can set your own rules for this situation. Just let them know what your boundaries are – but don’t scare them away.
Ask for help
“When in doubt, ask a professional. Talk to the school medical staff or their parents. Ask for help in building a relationship with the student or with helping them with education and so on. There are many people who should be in your circle if you need any assistance,” says Angela Mitt, an educator at Uktopwriters and Boomessays.
Helping a student with addiction certainly isn’t a part of your job. But if you have decided to help, this means that you care and that you are a good person. Be kind and remember just how important saving a life is.