Helping Parents of Addicted Loved Ones
Parents of addicted loved ones often face challenges that can quickly become overwhelming. But when you get the right help – both for your child and yourself – you can get through this difficult time and emerge as healthier people and a more cohesive and supportive unit.
Understanding Addiction in The Family
Addiction is often described as a family disorder.
This can allude to the fact that the children of parents who have struggled with compulsive substance abuse are at increased risk of having similar problems. It is also a way to acknowledge that when one person develops an addiction, their closest loved ones are likely to be impacted.
The good news is that parents and other family members can play a vital role in helping their loved one end their drug use and establish a foundation for successful recovery. In other words, addiction may well be a family disorder, but healing can also be a family endeavor.
How to Tell if Your Son or Daughter is an Addict
For many parents of addicted loved ones, accepting that their son or daughter has developed a substance use disorder can be difficult. Part of this can be due to guilt, shame, or stigma – but a lack of knowledge about the signs and symptoms of addiction can also be a contributing factor.
Signs of Addiction in Your Child
- Their performance in school or at work has declined considerably.
- They frequently miss school or work for no apparent reason.
- They seem to be neglecting their appearance and personal hygiene.
- They have begun to pull away from you and from their friends.
- They have become secretive about how they spend their time (and who they spend it with).
- They undergo dramatic swings in mood, attitude, and energy.
- They have unintentionally gained or lost a noticeable amount of weight.
- They claim that they function better after they’ve had a few drinks or used other substances.
- They become angry or irritated when they can’t drink alcohol or use other substances.
- They don’t seem to be interested in topics or activities that used to be very important to them.
- They have unexplained financial problems.
- They don’t seem to be able to experience joy or cope with sadness without using substances.
On their own, none of the signs or symptoms listed above are definitive proof that your child has developed an addiction. But if several (or all) of them apply to your son or daughter, you should have a serious discussion with them about getting help.
In addition to looking for the indicators listed above, keep an eye out for any other sudden or unexplained changes in your child’s mindset, appearance, and/or behaviors. You don’t have to be a substance abuse expert to notice that your child is in crisis. You just need to know your child.
How Can Parents Address Addiction to Their Addicted Children?
Once they understand that their child has a substance abuse problem, the next challenge for parents of addicted loved ones is deciding how they can help.
When you discover that your son or daughter has developed an addiction, it’s common to momentarily feel helpless. You can’t cure your child’s disorder or take their pain away, but you can play an important part in the effort to keep them safe and connect them with proper professional care.
Tips for Parents With Loved Ones Who Are Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol
- Do your research. Visit websites of reputable organizations (like you’re doing right now) to learn about addiction and treatment. The more you know about what your child is going through, and how they can be helped, the better prepared you’ll be to offer meaningful assistance.
- Resist the urge to judge or issue ultimatums. You may be disappointed in (or even angry with) your child. But remember that addiction is a disease, not a personal failure. Talking down to your child or threatening them will only serve to push them away from you. Especially at a time when they most need your support.
- Keep the lines of communication open. When you talk to your child about their substance use, they may respond with denial or even outrage. Prepare for these negative responses and do whatever you can to prevent the discussion from descending into an argument. It will likely take several conversations before your child is willing to get help.
- Don’t confuse support with enabling. Trying to shield your child from the consequences of their actions might feel like the right choice in the moment. However, it can have disastrous long-term consequences. A willingness to take responsibility for one’s decisions and behaviors is a vital step on the path to recovery.
- Get help for yourself. Find a trusted friend or relative that you can talk to. Consider seeing a therapist or counselor. Whether you realize it or not, you are affected by your child’s struggles with addiction. There’s no shame in getting help to protect your own wellbeing. You can’t be fully present for your child if you are neglecting your own needs.
Support Groups and Resources for Parents of Addicted Loved Ones
Connecting with other parents of addicted loved ones can be valuable both for informational purposes and as a source of vital emotional support. Here are a few nationally recognized organizations that may be able to help you:
- Al-Anon Family Groups
- Nar-Anon Family Groups
- SMART Recovery Family & Friends
- SAMHSA Family Resources
- Partnership to End Addiction
- NIDA Parents & Educators Page
Contact Our California Addiction Treatment Center About Treating Your Loved One
If you are the parent of an adult child who has become addicted to alcohol or another drug, Sanctuary Treatment Center is here to help.
Our rehab facility in Los Angeles, California, offers a full continuum of customized care, including detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient programming. At each of these levels, skilled professionals provide personalized services while maintaining a welcoming and supportive environment.
With our help, your child can find their path to improved health and a much more hopeful future. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment for your child, please visit our Contact Us page or call our center today.