My Teenager Took An Overdose: How Do I Handle it?
Q.My 15 year old daughter took an overdose on Wednesday - there were no warning signs at all, she is now refusing to speak to me and her dad and won't come home.
She is safe at her grandparents for now but can't stay there forever. How do I handle this - how do we go forward?
So sorry to hear about your daughter’s overdose, that must have been a terrible shock for you all.
Depending on the circumstances of the overdose and whether your daughter was admitted to hospital or had her stomach pumped out, then medical experts and doctors may well already be involved and aware of the incident. If for any reason they’re not (for example, the overdose was minimal and didn’t involve the need for hospitalisation or medical care), then the one of the first ports of call should be to see a doctor, with or without your daughter in tow.
It’s important for medical practitioners to be aware of what’s happened, not least so any future instances could be avoided. Also, from your point of view, talking about what has happened and what you can do to help your daughter will be helpful. Depending on whether or not your daughter is with you at the appointment, the doctor may be able to prescribe medication. For example, if they think your daughter could be suffering from depression, than antidepressant medication may be beneficial.
If you can’t persuade your daughter to visit the doctor with you, then it would be helpful if she could be encouraged to go on her own or with another family member of friend (perhaps one of her grandparents could accompany her?). Obviously there must be some reason why she took an overdose in the first place and talking to someone might help identify what it is and what can be done about it.
Your doctor should also be able to recommend a relevant counsellor in your area and this would be worthwhile for you to follow up too. It sounds like your daughter is reluctant to speak to you at the moment, but it would definitely be worth her talking to someone. Sometimes speaking to a different, unconnected person offers the opportunity to open up and speak honestly. For example, she may feel better able to express her true feelings, talk about what happened and what prompted the overdose.
Teenagers can go through turbulent times at that age and issues they’re dealing with can escalate for them to a degree when they see an overdose as the only way out. Unfortunately, teenagers often don’t want to confide in their parents, which makes things difficult for you. As a parent, the best thing you can do is to be there for your daughter, let her know she is welcome home, that you love her, are there to support her and that she’s not in trouble in any way. In time, hopefully your daughter will feel more able to talk to you and explain what’s happened. If not, then having someone she can speak to, be it a counsellor, doctor, friend or other family member, is vital.