Menu Close

Help for Parents and Children of Addicts

Advice for Parents and Children of Addicts

It can be difficult as the parents of an addicted child to watch them go down this path. Parents of addicts often feel helpless because they can’t turn things around and they must just stand by. Many times, they don’t understand what causes addiction, how they can help their adult child or what they should say to someone who is struggling with drug abuse. They need to know what to do and what not to do, how addiction works and how treatment can help their loved one begin the road to recovery.

"I can remember when Josh was just a young boy. He was always so free-spirited and full of life. Never in a million years would I have thought he'd become an alcoholic when he got older. It still amazes me to think about it."

This story is all too common for parents as they watch their child change from a vibrant person full of life to someone who is struggling to get through each day. However, it’s important to never give up on your child. Help is available and there’s always hope for your son or daughter to recover.

Addiction and Your Child

"Josh's alcoholism didn't start right away, of course. It was a steady, downhill slide into alcohol addiction for him. At first, he would miss work on occasion because he'd been drinking the night before. Then, he eventually quit his job altogether. His wife was furious, and she eventually left him. She took their two children with her, and he never gets to see them.

"I spend my days in constant worry about my son. I love him so much, and I can't stand to see the mess he's made of his life. It is my prayer that someday, he'll decide to get treated for his addiction. That day can't come soon enough for me.

"I think it's so important to let people know what to do if they have a grown child who is addicted. So many parents don't know what type of support is out there for them. They need to know that there is help available."

Is Your Adult Child an Alcoholic or a Drug Addict?

Sometimes parents have suspicions, but they're not sure if their kids are using alcohol or drugs. This could be the situation you've found yourself in. People who abuse alcohol or drugs generally try to keep their behaviors hidden if they can. Still, when you know the signs to look for, it can help you.

Look for Signs of Alcohol Abuse. These include:

  • Drinking even though there are risks involved.
  • Consuming alcohol and then driving drunk
  • Alcohol consumption starts to interfere with responsibilities
  • Experiencing injuries or accidents after drinking
  • Memory loss or blackouts

Look for Signs of Drug Abuse. These include:

  • Glazed or bloodshot eyes
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Bruises on the body
  • Attitude or mood shifts
  • Depression or anxiety

Drug or alcohol abuse is a serious issue, and it can be a precursor to addiction. Just because someone says they can quit at any time and aren’t addicted, they are still taking serious risks with their life. If you suspect your adult child is abusing some drug, you should encourage them to get help.

Signs of Addiction You Need to Recognize

Addiction signs are generally much more severe than abuse symptoms. If your adult son or daughter is an addict, there are some signs that you should recognize. These include:

  • Spending time with a different group of people
  • Financial problems because of money spent on drugs or alcohol
  • Continuing to use even though there are negative consequences
  • Frequently feeling tired or lethargic
  • Drugs or alcohol have become the most important thing in the world to them
  • Legal problems directly related to substance use

Have you noticed any of these with your son or daughter? If you have, there could be an addiction present.

One of the main differences between abuse and addiction is the ability to stop using. With addiction, the system has become dependent upon the drugs. Because the person has been using so much, it has altered the way the brain acts. The system basically looks at the drugs as a normal part of life, and it reacts when they wear off.

Parents of addicts should understand that when someone is addicted, they can’t stop. People often say, “You should just be stronger and stop using the drug.” However, the ability to stop has been taken away because the body sees the drug as necessary. When it leaves the system, the body begins to show withdrawal symptoms and to crave the drug. According to the system, something is wrong and it sends a warning to the body to get more of the drug. If you have an addicted child, know they can’t control their drug use. They need help from a drug treatment center.

Addicted Child

Resources and Tips for Parents of Addicted Adult Children

As a parent of an addicted child, it's important to get as many tips as you can. We have some resources for you that you may find helpful. We also have some great tips that will help you cope.

Avoid Enabling Behaviors

Enabling is something that a lot of parents do for their grown children. Many times, they don't realize they're doing it. They also don't really understand how much harm they're causing.

It's possible that you've been enabling. It can look like any of the following:

  • Offering to watch your grandchildren so that your grown child can use drugs or alcohol
  • Providing money to purchase drugs or alcohol
  • Paying your child's bills so that they can keep living at home
  • Offering your child a place to stay
  • Buying food or running other errands that your child doesn't want to do

As a parent, you obviously want the best for your son or daughter. In the short term, enabling can seem like you're really just trying to help. You have high hopes that it will change the addictive behavior. Unfortunately, it usually does just the opposite.

Continuing in these or other enabling behaviors will only make an addiction worse. You're actually making it easier for your child to keep using. In a moment, we'll talk about what you can do to stop the enabling, but still be supportive. It actually is possible.

Get Information About Addiction

There are all kinds of addictions, and each one is different. Also, addiction affects people differently too. One of the most powerful things you can do is to educate yourself about addiction. It's important for you to get as much information as you can. There are several good resources available to you.

  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse: This website offers all kind of drug abuse and drug addiction information. You can use it to do research on virtually any drug and its effects.
  • The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc: This website is filled with great information on alcoholism and drug addiction. You can research different drugs and learn from others who have been through this too.
  • WebMD: This website makes it easy for you to research drugs and alcohol and their effects. You can learn so much from real medical professionals about addiction.

Seek Out In Person or Online Support

You need support if your adult son or daughter is an addict. It's important for you to know where to turn. Whether you're in need of online support or in person help, you have options.

You may be focusing on finding support for your addicted child. They need to know where to go for help and who they can turn to when they want to make a change. However, it’s just as important for you to have support. Your friends won’t understand what you’re going through unless they’ve been there. It can feel lonely to have a child suffering from addiction.

What Can Support Groups Do For Families of Addicts?

One of the most important reasons to find a support group is to have someone you can talk to when you feel overwhelmed or frightened. They will understand when you talk about sitting up all night waiting for your child to come home or to answer their phone as you imagine what could happen to them. You can also learn more about addiction, which can make it easier to understand what your child is going through. Other parents can provide tips on how to deal with the situation and to prevent parents enabling grown children.

If you’re looking for some groups to help you through this difficult time, consider the following:

Parents of Addicted Loved Ones is a support group that has meetings near you. You can join a support group and read about addiction on their website.

Al-Anon is a support group that has been designed specifically for families of alcoholics and addicts. You can find many online resources on their website, and there are also meetings near you.

It might also help you to talk with someone who will listen to you without judgment. There are many therapists who specialize in helping people with addicted loved ones. This is certainly an option you should consider.

Bloggers that May Encourage You

Sometimes the most helpful thing is to read about others' experiences. People who have been through this before can be so helpful to you. There are so many bloggers who have written about addiction from a parent's perspective. Some of these include:

  • Cathy Taughinbaugh
  • Barbara Theodosiou
  • Sandy Swenson
  • Jim Savage
  • Kelly Fitzgerald

Talking with Your Grown Son or Daughter About Addiction Treatment

You know that your child has an addiction, but now you need to know how to proceed. You can begin by having a conversation with him or her about the problem. Whether your child is an alcoholic or a drug addict, this should always be the first step. There are a few things you need to know first.

Prepare Ahead of Time: You need to know as much about addiction as you can. You should do your research before this conversation takes place. Preparing ahead of time will help you to know what to say and what information to present. You can read information from reputable websites or talk to others who have gone through what you’re going through now. Look for facts that can be supported by studies and other evidence.

Choose your Time Wisely: Try to choose a time when your child is sober. You don't want to choose a time when he or she has used. If you do, nothing you say will be heard or taken seriously. Usually, early in the morning is a really good time. Find a time when you aren’t in a hurry or have somewhere else to be. You want to allow plenty of time to have this conversation so you both can say what’s on your minds. Speak Confidently but with Love: You need to be firm in the words you say but speak with love at the same time. Talk with your child about the dangers of addiction. Give examples about what you've noticed since he or she started using. Choose your words carefully so you don’t put your child on the defense. It’s important to be factual without being accusatory. Keep your voice level and don’t resort to yelling. Even if your child gets upset, you should be the voice of reason.

Don't be Afraid to Set Limits: There have to be limits put into place. Otherwise, your child will not get the needed help to recover. This might mean that you refuse to watch your grandchildren. It could mean that you ask your child to move out of your home. It will most likely mean you stop giving them money to pay for the utilities or rent because they spent all their money on drugs. It's hard to set these limits, but it is in your best interests. It's also best for your child.

Ask Him/Her to get Help: It might seem odd, but sometimes people think that addiction is just the way of life for them. They don't realize all the different options there are to get help. Ask your son or daughter to consider getting help and offer to assist them with options. It’s quite likely they have some misconceptions about drug treatment that prevents them from taking this step. If you present them with factual information, you might convince them that rehab isn’t as bad as what they have imagined.

Sometimes, the thought of treatment may be too frightening to consider or perhaps they don’t feel they have a problem. You can utilize your local resources to encourage them to take the next step. You’ll find AA and NA groups in almost every city in Washington State. Your addicted child may feel less intimidated if they attend a few meetings. Ensure them of the anonymity of these groups and encourage them to check out a local meeting. Many times, when someone finds one of these groups and attends a meeting, they begin to realize they do have a problem and will seek out more intensive treatment.

Sometimes these conversations work, but most of the time, they don't. This is something you should be prepared for. You should always try to talk with your child, but if it doesn't work, it's time to take the next step.

An intervention can help you get your message across. Intervention services are available through drug rehab and alcohol rehab facilities.

An intervention involves multiple people who meet at a specific location with the addicted person. The people who are invited to attend should know the person well and care about them. Many times, it is the parents, siblings, friends and co-workers and even an employer who come to these interventions.

They are very useful, and often result in great changes being made. During an intervention, the interventionist will run the meeting. Friends and family members will attend. They will all take turns talking and asking the person to agree to addiction treatment. They may point out how the addiction has affected them or how they have noticed the person has changed. For instance, a manager may mention the fact that the person shows up late or calls in a lot to work. Sometimes, the addict doesn’t realize how the drugs have impacted their lives until it’s pointed out to them by others.

Interventions are also quite emotional. It's very common for people to be surprised that these individuals thought so much of them to attend. More often than not, people will agree to get treatment. They agree just because so many people asked them to.

Right after the intervention is over, treatment can begin immediately. The interventionist will work these details out with you prior to the meeting.

What You Need to Know about Detox and Rehab

As the parents of an addicted child, you need to know about drug treatment and how it works. This information can help you convince your loved one to go to treatment. It also helps you know how to support them during treatment and afterwards.

If your grown child suffers from alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction, they may need to go to a detox center that treats patients for alcoholism. The first step is to get the alcohol out of the system and get their body back to normal function. This can take several days, and it’s often the reason people hesitate to get treatment.

Alcohol detox can be painful for the addict as their system goes through withdrawal. They may experience numerous symptoms like nausea and vomiting, headaches, hallucinations and depression. However, detox at a treatment center can help the addict deal with the symptoms so that it’s not as bad. Your child may be given medications to help with the symptoms or they may go through a holistic detox. This option focuses on nutrition and fitness to help the person’s system work naturally to overcome the withdrawal symptoms.

Once your adult child has finished detox, they will need to go into treatment at a rehab center. It may be at an inpatient center, outpatient program or in a 12-step program. Your child will have to go through individual therapy and group therapy to help them learn how to deal with their addiction and to recognize the triggers that cause the cravings.

Treatment can last for a few days or weeks. Your child will learn new behaviors to help them handle stress and the situations that may make them want to use again. Some of these treatment programs offer special therapy such as art or music therapy. If you help your child research their options, you may want to consider these methods of treatment. They can help those who have relapsed after traditional treatment methods. It can also appeal to those who have special interests.

It's important to realize you can’t skip this step. Once your child has finished detox, they will look and feel much better. They may even think they are “cured” and can go back to their normal lives. However, this is seldom the case, especially if the addiction has been long-term or severe. Detox is only the first step and addiction treatment is necessary for continued sobriety.

Your child can usually tour a drug rehab facility, and you should offer to go with them. This will help you know how to offer advice when they are hesitant to select a place for treatment. They may be frightened at the thought of being left with strangers as they deal with such a serious and person issue. However, you can reassure them by showing them the positive aspects of the treatment facility. It can help them feel more confident about their decision, and it can allow you to see the best options and weigh in on the selection.

However, you can reassure them by showing them the positive aspects of the treatment facility. It can help them feel more confident about their decision, and it can allow you to see the best options and weigh in on the selection.

Even after your child has agreed to treatment, the battle still isn’t over. You should expect some different emotions and responses to the next stages. For instance, your child may be afraid and want to change their mind about detoxing. You need to encourage them and provide information to allay their fears.

Once your child is in treatment, you must expect them to change. They will be going to therapy, which will bring issues to their attention. They may have to deal with some difficult topics or situations in their lives. One of the things you can’t expect is for your child to be back to their old self. Too much has changed, and they’ve been through a lot for them to go back to being a happy-go-lucky young adult.

Instead, your child may be a new version of themselves, a person you will need to get to know. They will need your support and encouragement as they face a new life. They are likely to feel afraid of dealing with real life without the aid of drugs.

If your child has been addicted for a long time, they may have lost everything. They lost their jobs so they no longer have a home. Their family left them, so they have very few people to support them. While you may provide emotional support for your recovering child, you can do so much more. You can help them find a place to live and a job so they can begin a positive new lifestyle.

It’s important to realize that even after treatment, your child is still a recovering addict. You will need to provide long-term support for many months and even years as they continue to stay on the path of sobriety. Another essential fact for you to know as their parent is they may relapse, but it doesn’t mean they’ve failed at recovery. If a relapse does happen, it’s essential that you help them get back into treatment as quickly as possible.

To prevent relapse in the first place, you should encourage them with aftercare, such as finding a 12-step program with regular meetings they can attend. You must maintain regular contact with them so you can not only provide support but recognize when they are having issues with their recovery. Fighting addiction is a lifelong battle for the recovering addict and their family.

Many people assume they can detox on their own at home if they’ve been using addictive drugs. However, it can be dangerous, depending on the drugs the person has been using and how much they have used. While it may seem like the easiest option because you can be with your child through this time, it’s not advisable due to complications which can arise during the process. You should encourage your child not to try it. Explain to them the dangers which can include coma and death. They are more likely to relapse when the withdrawal symptoms become too severe, which means they will have to start all over. When you go to a drug detox center, you have professional medical staff on hand 24 hours a day to monitor your progress. They can give you medicines to help with the most severe symptoms. They can also detect a medical emergency before it happens and ensure you get medical attention right away.

The Complications of Co-Occurring Disorders

Many people become addicted to drugs because they suffer from a mental health condition. People who have a mental health disorder often try to hide the symptoms from others rather than seek treatment. They will self-medicate to keep others from finding out or thinking they are strange. This self-medication comes in the form of drugs or alcohol.

When someone uses drugs, they find that the symptoms go away for some time. When they return, the person just takes more of the drugs. It makes them feel better for a while, more “normal.” However, this is only temporary. As the body adjusts to the presence of the drug, it requires more to mask the symptoms. In fact, in time the drug will make the symptoms worse.

Once the person develops a dependence on the drug, they become addicted. Now you have two issues to deal with. The original mental health disorder must be treated along with the addiction. If you only treat the addiction, the person is likely to relapse.

Treatment for a co-occurring disorder is often unique. The person may need medication and therapy for the mental health disorder along with therapy for the addiction. Treatment may be ongoing even after the initial addiction rehab.

It can be difficult for you to tell someone has a mental health disorder even if it’s your own child. People become adept at hiding their symptoms so that no one finds out. You may have to look for signs and talk to your child about their behaviors. Some of the most common mental health issues which become co-occurring disorders include the following:

  • Social anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Mania

If you suspect your child has this problem, you need to talk to them about getting help. Let them see that no one will think badly of them for having a mental health condition, and the right treatment can allow them to live a normal life.

Helping the Children of Addicts

Studies show that over 8 million children live with an addicted parent. If your adult child is a parent, you have another generation to think of. Your grandchildren need your love and support and to know that they aren’t alone. In many cases, the situation isn’t safe for your grandchild. You must make the right decision of what’s best for them even when you can’t convince your child to do the right thing.

Providing Care for Your Grandchildren

You can offer to keep your grandchildren while your child seeks treatment. If they won’t go to a rehab facility, you can suggest letting their kids stay with you. Studies show that kids of addicts may lack the basic necessities and suffer from neglect and even abuse. You want to remove those kids from this kind of situation. If you can’t take care of them, you can find out if another family member will.

Children who can be removed from the situation and live in a stable home with another family member will have a better chance to grow up to be healthy and independent. Because drug abuse can be genetic, it’s important to provide a nurturing environment to help them fight the tendency to follow their parent’s footsteps.

Seeking Therapy for Children of Addicts

A child of an addict may need therapy of their own. If your child is willing to seek treatment, many facilities offer family therapy to help the entire family heal from the effects of addiction. Even if they don’t seek treatment, you can get the grandkids into therapy to help them deal with the situation. There are even groups that will provide support, such as Alateen. This organization provides groups with regular meetings of teens and younger kids of addicts. They can help each other deal with their situations.

If your adult child has lost their family due to their addiction, it’s important for you to remain in the children’s lives if possible. You may need to reach out to the other parent and let them know you want to be involved with your grandkids. You can recommend therapy to help everyone deal with the losses they are experiencing. You can also help prevent the cycle of addiction from being carried on by encouraging early therapy. When a child is in a loving, stable home, they can learn to develop self-confidence and build social interactions which will help reduce the risk of addiction in their lives.

It also helps to be aware of the risks someone faces because they have an addicted parent. As your grandkids get older and are exposed to alcohol and drugs, they need to be aware of the genetic tendency to become an addict. Even trying a drug “just once” can be enough to start this vicious cycle. However, with proper education and support, these kids can beat the odds and live productive lives in spite of their background.

Seeking an Assessment for Alcohol Rehab or Drug Rehab

If you opted for an intervention, your son or daughter was offered drug treatment or alcohol treatment right away. All the arrangements were made with you ahead of time, and there's nothing for you to worry about. However, if your child has agreed to get help without an intervention, you need to know what to do next.

Here at Northpoint Washington, we offer alcohol rehab and drug rehab services to those in need. We are careful to target our services specifically for each of our patients. That means that your child's unique needs will be met. We understand that all addictions are different, just like all people are different. It is our goal to provide only the services that will benefit each individual the most.

In order to get started with the admission process, all you or your child needs to do is get in touch with us. The process is actually quite simple, and admission can happen quickly.

First, we'll do an assessment over the phone. The assessment will cover the type of addiction your son or daughter suffers from. We'll need to know what substances are being used, and how long the use has gone on. We'll also need to know if your child has been diagnosed with any type of mental illness. This is known as a co-occurring disorder. Many types, co-occurring disorders do lead to addictions. They can also occur because of addictions.

Either way, it's important for co-occurring disorders to be treated during drug and alcohol rehab. This helps to make recovery much more successful.

After the assessment is finished, your child's insurance will be verified and an admission date will be set.

Here at Northpoint Washington, we understand how you feel because of your child's addiction. It's so hard to know what to do and what not to do. You don't want to enable your child, but you do want to help in any way that you can. We want to assist you in this process too.

Is your grown child addicted to drugs or alcohol? Please contact us to find out how we can help you.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

[DirectNumber] Contact Us