Finding Treatment That Fits Your Family
Seeking treatment is the first step in recovering from addiction. Sobriety will have positive impacts on your life, as well as on your childs future. As a parent, there are many barriers to seeking treatment. Childcare, custody, and financial costs, to name a few. Many parents may struggle to find childcare while in rehab or worry that their child will be taken away by social services. While these are important and valid concerns that must be addressed, they should not deter you from seeking help. By taking the first step and seeking treatment, you can begin to provide your child with much needed stability and rebuild your parent child-bond.
The Range Of Addiction In The United States
In America, there are more than 20 million people addicted to some form of substance and in need of treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration . Out of those 20.8 million, only roughly 10% seek and receive the help they need.
If you have an adult child addicted to drugs or alcohol, you likely feel helpless and hopeless. You may even feel as if you have no options available to you.
The list below has been compiled to help you, regardless of the stage of addiction your adult child may be in.
Does Your Parent Have An Alcohol Addiction Or Drug Addiction What To Look For
You may know that your parent’s drug abuse or alcohol abuse is a problem. However, you’re not really sure it qualifies as an actual addiction. Maybe your mom or dad doesn’t use all the time, but when they do, it’s a cause for concern. You’d be surprised how many people feel the exact same way that you do.
Alcohol abuse and drug abuse are very different from addiction. You can identify substance abuse by looking for:
- The presence of alcohol or drug use without feeling the need to use
- The lack of withdrawal symptoms when the individual is not using
- Only a few physical symptoms of substance abuse
- Few effects on the person’s ability to carry out regular responsibilities
- Long or short periods of abstinence
The symptoms of addiction are actually much different than this. They include:
- Experiencing intense cravings for alcohol or drugs
- Going through withdrawal when alcohol or drugs are not available
- Having problems with everyday life because of being dependent on substances
- Relationship problems due to substance use
- Health issues related to drug or alcohol use
- Possible legal problems related to substance use
- Making alcohol or drugs the highest priorities in one’s life
Have you noticed any of these in your mom or dad? If you have, there is a very real possibility that there is an addiction present. If you’re still not completely sure, taking a quiz can help you by asking you questions about additional symptoms.
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Ways To Support Children Of Addicted Parents
One of the most difficult concepts for an addict to grasp is that his or her actions with drugs and alcohol are harming other people. You may believe otherwise, but evidence and countless studies prove that substance abuse is harmful to loved ones, friends, employers, the general public, and particularly children.
SAMHSA reports that roughly 1 in 8 children in the U.S. are currently living in a household with at least one parent who has a substance use disorder. While the effects of this can be devastating, there are some substance abuse resources that these youth can access for support. Parents can also attend drug rehab to break free from addiction and find recovery.
Ways To Stop Enabling But Still Be Supportive To Parents
You may not have known that you were enabling your parent’s addiction. Now that you know, you want to stop what you’re doing. This is best achieved by having a conversation with your mom or dad ahead of time.
This is a conversation that’s probably going to be difficult for you to have. However, in the long run, it will be so beneficial to your mom or dad. Please keep that in mind. Talk with your parent and let them know that you’re not going to be able to continue doing what you’re doing. If you’re paying their bills, let them know you’re finished doing that. If you’re bringing food, tell them you won’t be able to do that any longer. They’ll want to know why, and you can explain to them that you feel it’s allowing them to continue to use.
Don’t be surprised if your mom or dad becomes defensive or even angry. They may hurl accusations at you, saying things like:
- “I took care of you for all those years, and you’re refusing to help me now.”
- “You don’t love me anymore.”
- “You know I have to use drugs or alcohol. I’m sick.”
- “I can’t believe you would hurt me in this way.”
- “I guess you don’t care if I live or die.”
These are all manipulative statements that are designed to get you to give in. Don’t. It will be for the best in the long-term.
Also Check: What Makes Someone An Addict
A Support Network For Parents
When Denise Marianos son was in the height of his addiction to heroin at 19 years-old, she was fighting insurance companies and trying to make sense of the maze of rehabs to find treatment for him. People told me that I was the biggest part of the problem. They told me to use tough love with my son. They told me dont let him back home, if he calls, dont help him: only they can help themselves and they must hit their bottom.
In my heart, letting go and giving up hope on my son was not an option. Such options would never be acceptable if our son was suffering from another medical disease.-Denise Mariano
Denise is one of 55 volunteer peer parent coaches through the Parent Support Network, a free program of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Each of the volunteers have been trained in CRAFT to coach other parents through their concerns about their childrens substance use problems.
In my heart, letting go and giving up hope on my son was not an option, says Denise. Such options would never be acceptable if our son was suffering from another medical disease. We chose to not give up hope, to set healthy boundaries and continue to stay engaged.
Today, Denises son is in recovery and Denise volunteers a few hours a week providing CRAFT-oriented coaching to other parents through the Parent Support Network. CRAFT has allowed me to support that journey rather than control it.
Adult Children Addicted Parent
If your parents started using after you grew up and left home, you may face a different range of problems. As we grow older and become more aware of the issues and sufferings our family members face, it can be that much more painful.
You may be exhausted from calling out your parent on their behavior, or afraid to say anything. Maybe its easier to brush it under the carpet and ignore the signs that your mom is heavily medicated on Xanax and painkillers. Or easier to turn the cheek as your dad polishes off a bottle of whiskey every time you get together.
Its difficult to see our parents in pain, and often even more difficult to try to figure out how to help. They may become angry or deny everything making excuses, or tell you that youll understand when youre older. You dont want to cut them out from your life, because theyre your parent and you love them. But at the same time, you may not know what else to do.
It may be hard to talk about it: You dont want your friends to know that your mom or dad is addicted to drugs or alcohol. You dont want your parents to run into anyone you know while theyre intoxicated. And you sure dont want the word to get out to your coworkers.
Read Also: Is Xanax Addictive Mayo Clinic
A Person With Addiction May Lie
A person with a substance use disorder may say anything to hide addiction, and may take any action to mask the problem. Perhaps they do not even realize they are lying, but are simply saying whatever they think a parent would want to hear.
I believe that children seek approval from their parents and look to give us pride. I also believe that many people struggling with addiction do not approve of what they are doing, but believe that they have no way out. If this is the case, their only mechanism for survival is to seek some kind of approval by saying what they think their parents want to hear, even if these things arent true.
So, when my son tells me he is not using substances, I really dont hear it. I tell him often, My eyes can hear much better than my ears. Just as we seek evidence of their using substances, we must seek evidence of their recovery. Do not rely on faith alone that they are not using substances, just because they have spoken those words. And when you do see them doing something positive for example, when theyre telling the truth give them positive reinforcement, even if its for something small.
Am I An Addicted Or Alcoholic Parent
Are you worried that you might have a drug problem? Do you believe your drinking might be causing issues in your life? Depending on your substance of choice, there are specific symptoms of addiction to look for. However, there are a number of telltale signs that can help you identify whether your drug or alcohol use has become problematic. Here are several questions that you can ask yourself:
If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, you very well may have a substance use disorder. The National Institute on Drug Abuse considers addiction to be a complex disease that requires more than just willpower and good intentions to fix. Just like any other sickness, it requires help and treatment. There is no shame or moral failure in admitting that you have a problem with drugs and alcohol. However, it is important to face this issue head on. Seeking treatment will benefit you and your child, who is likely suffering as a result of your drug or alcohol abuse.
Read Also: How Can Rehab Help Drug Addicts
Parents Cannot Fix This On Their Own
This statement is regarding what I have written above. This is a problem only the person with addiction can fix. A concept such as this is very hard for a person like me to accept, because I try to fix everything. No one is allowed in the mind of a person with addiction, except for them. They are the only ones that can decide to change their lives, for better or for worse. This will not end until they decide to end it. Many times, parents try to make that decision for them and it only winds up resulting in more frustration and failure. What parents can do is encourage them to seek help or treatment, and let them arrive at the decision themselves.
What To Share With Your Children
While it is crucial to tell your children the truth, it is not necessary to go into specific detail about every addicted behavior or mistake.
Sometime, your children will believe that the turmoil and dysfunction caused by addiction is somehow THEIR fault. They feel that if they had behaved better, or done their homework more often, or cleaned their room that everything would be okay. You must reassure them that they are not to blame in any way.
Keep the focus on the idea that addiction is an illness, and therefore, it can be treated.
If at all possible, have another trusted family member present to help explain everything. For example, when both parents are present and relaying the same message, it will greatly reassure your children that they are getting reliable information.
Read Also: How To Overcome Addiction Alone
Identify Practical Factors Important To Your Recovery As An Addicted Parent
Parents in drug and alcohol treatment should consider a number of issues when selecting a program. To set yourself up for success, find a program that addresses the varied needs of parents. For instance parenting classes, financial education, and job training may aid in the recovery process and allow you to better support your children post-treatment. If you do have custody of your children, you are responsible for their financial, educational, health and emotional needs. Receiving support and education in these areas can only benefit you and your family. If you have lost custody and are seeking to reunite with your child, building a strong foundation for yourself and your child will only help support your case for reunification.
Counseling For Parents Of Drug Addicts
Most experts agree that addiction is a family disease. When one family member is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the physical and emotional health of the entire family is negatively impacted. As words and actions of addicted loved ones hurt those closest to them, family members often respond with anger, fear, and resentment, weakening the family unit.Counseling can provide the tools, skills, and resources needed to guide the addicted person to recovery and heal the family.
Also Check: What Is The Addictive Drug In Tobacco
You Cant Rescue Your Child
You cant rescue your child from addiction, either. Addiction is a chronic disease, which means the path to recovery is one with specialized treatment.
Simply put, rescuing does not work. If you try to rescue or save your son, hell most likely resist and resent you. He might feel bossed around or judged and pull away even more.
An addict needs to create their pathway to change and develop personal decision-making, with guidance from professionals who are trained and certified in addiction treatment.
While it can be tempting to help an addict reach certain conclusions about their habits, choices, and life, it wont help them unless they reach those conclusions on their own. They may not want to change or be ready to change, which is why they need professional help.
Remember that you still have a million roles as a parent. Just because you cant rescue them from their drug addiction doesnt mean you cant play an integral part in helping to get them where they need to be.
Convincing A Parent To Seek Treatment
Talking to a parent about getting help for substance abuse can be extremely intimidating. To some kids, addressing the problem seems like a betrayal of the parents trust to others, it might be a frightening violation of authority. One of the most important things to remember about addiction is that it can distort the users sense of reality, hiding the true impact of the disease. Many parents may not be aware of the effects of their drug use on their kids. They may be so deep in denial that they dont realize how chaotic their childrens world has become.
Listed below are seven steps you can take to make a conversation with your parent more successful, whether youre a young person whos still dependent on your parent or the independent adult child of an addicted person.
1. Write down your feelings first. Before you approach someone about the topic of addiction, its best to clarify your own feelings in writing. People with substance abuse problems are likely to get angry, defensive, or manipulative when theyre confronted. They might yell or cry, and blame you for their problem. When you have your feelings set down in writing, you can turn back to those words when things get tough.
4. Arrange a time when your parent will be sober. When you approach a parent about drinking or drug use, its best to talk to them when they are clearheaded and sober. Talking to someone whos high, drunk, or hungover probably will not be productive.
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How To Deal With Addicted Parents
Children who grow up with one or more addicted parents may not be sure how they can help. Remember, there are several rehabilitation programs that specialize in treating parents with substance abuse disorders. If you are dealing with an addicted parent or parents at home, there is help available.
How Parents Enable Addiction
Although well-intentioned, parents who protect their children from the consequences of addictive behavior are reducing the incentive for the addicted person to change their behavior. By allowing children to avoid responsibility for their own actions, the addictive behavior is tacitly approved.
When parents do the following for their child, they are enabling addictive behavior:
- Lie or make excuses for their behavior to keep peace in the house, to keep them out of trouble, or to prevent others from thinking poorly of them
- Take care of responsibilities they should be attending to themselves
- Loan money or otherwise bail them out of financial trouble
- Blame the addiction on something or someone else divorce, illness, loneliness, the people they socialize with
- Fail to say no when an addicted child requests something the parent doesnt agree with
- Make threats or set boundaries, but fail to follow-through
Multiple studies support a higher risk of addiction in the children of an addicted parent. This can be especially problematic if the parent is an enabler. However, if the addicted parent is in recovery, and has a solid understanding of addiction, they are in a good position to help their child recover, rather than enable the behavior.
Also Check: Is An Alcoholic An Addict
How To Talk To Kids About Addiction
Whether you’re the child’s non-addicted parent, a concerned relative, or a teacher, talking to kids about their parent’s addiction is not an easy conversation. But it’s one that needs to happen. Ignoring the issue or trying to pretend that it doesn’t exist is never a good idea and only leaves kids wondering if this is the way everyone’s life is.
Even if you’re not talking about their parent’s addiction, kids still know it exists. Plus, covering it up or pretending that it’s not a big deal doesn’t protect them from the pain that the addiction causes them. They are still being impacted. In fact, talking about the addiction openly and honestly can actually help them find healthier ways to cope with the trauma they’re experiencing.
Additionally, you’re able to share the truth about their parent’s addiction and dispel some of the lies they may believelike the faulty belief that they are somehow to blame or that they can “help” their parent get well. These types of beliefs can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms in kids, such as codependency.
Once you’ve resolved to talk to a child about their parent’s addiction, it’s important to educate yourself first. You want to be sure you’re sharing accurate information. Likewise, you should keep your conversations age appropriate.
Be sure that you reassure them that they didn’t cause the addiction and there’s nothing they could do to prevent their parent from drinking or using drugs.
Be sensitive to how the addiction has impacted them.