"My dad is an addict. He was actually an addict starting from when I was a little kid. I always looked up to him, nevertheless. He was my hero, and I've always felt like I would do anything for him. Now that I'm an adult, and he's still using, I'm not sure how to help him. I'm not even sure that he wants my help."
"As I became an adult, my dad's addiction just seemed normal to me at first. I think it must be because I grew up with it. I saw it as something that he did, but not necessarily anything I wanted to copy. I'm thankful for that. As the years have gone by, I've noticed that he's becoming more and more distant. He seems to be completely wrapped up in his addiction; even more so than when I was younger.
"I've watched him go downhill quickly over the last year or so. Honestly, it's scary. I don't want to lose my dad, but I don't know how to intervene at this point. I don't know if it's too late to help him. My brothers and sisters are also at a loss. We'd love some direction on what we can do get him some help."
If your father is an alcoholic or a drug addict, you certainly have some unique challenges. Families with addicted fathers often struggle because they don't know how to help. If your parents are still together, your mom is probably suffering just as much as you are.
Fortunately, you've found this page. We have some information for you that can help you during this critical time for your family.
You may be well aware of your father's substance abuse problem. However, in order to help, you need to know if he has an actual addiction. You'd be surprised how many families miss some of the signs of addiction. Sometimes they can be subtle; especially if your father is a high functioning alcoholic or addict. You can learn to recognize the symptoms of addiction just by observing your dad. You can look for the following physical signs of addiction:
Sometimes it's easier to identify an addiction by looking at some behavioral signs. These might include:
Have you noticed any of these symptoms of addiction in your dad? If you have, he may have an addiction that needs to be treated. If you're still not sure, try taking a quiz to find out more information.
When you hear the word denial, you probably think of an addict who doesn't want to stop using. Unfortunately, denial can be a problem for the families of alcoholics or addicts as well. So many children of addicted fathers fail to recognize that there is a problem. They may not want to come to terms with the fact that their dad is struggling, and needs help.
By denying that your dad is an addict, you're only allowing it to continue. That might be difficult for you to hear, but it's a truth you need to know. Once you are able to accept this fact, the easier it will be for you to be there for him.
Denial is one way that children of addicts will enable their fathers to keep using. There are so many other ways that you might be enabling your dad in his addiction. You may not have even thought of these behaviors as enabling. However, anything that makes it easier for your dad to use drugs or alcohol falls into this category.
Some additional examples of enabling behaviors might include:
There could be so many reasons why your dad became a drug addict or an alcoholic. While it's impossible to say what it was in your particular situation, professional counseling can uncover the reason. Your father may have turned to alcohol or drugs because:
Regardless of the reasons behind your dad's addiction, it's not too late for him to stop. Even if he's been using for years, the right alcohol and drug treatment can change everything.
More than anything, you want to help your dad stop using drugs or alcohol. There are a few different ways you can do this.
You may want to first have a conversation with your dad. If you decide to do this, do it during a time when he hasn't been using. Prepare what you're going to say beforehand. Try to keep it short and concise. Give specific examples of behaviors that you see as a problem. Point these out to him and ask him to get help.
He may get angry with you for bringing it up. If you're worried that he might get violent, bring a brother or sister with you for support.
Your father may not respond very well to you having a conversation with him about his addiction. This is to be expected. People will frequently become defensive, or deny that they have a problem. He may tell you he plans to quit using on his own as soon as he can. These are only empty promises, and it's not his fault he can't fulfill them. He has an addiction that requires a different approach.
You may want to consider intervention services for your dad. He is much more likely to agree to drug treatment or alcohol treatment after an intervention. You and others in your family will have the chance to sit down with him and explain your concerns. The meeting will be guided by an interventionist. At the end, your dad will be given the option to get treatment. He'll need to make a decision right away. Most of the time, people do agree to addiction treatment.
As you care for your father, don't forget to care for yourself too. People often fail to do this. This leads them vulnerable to addictions of their own, medical problems and mental health issues. This is not something you need to deal with.
You can get support for yourself in a number of ways, including:
Whatever you do, don't make your addicted father the center of your world. Yes, you love him and he's important to you. However, you have to care for your own needs.
Right now, your family may be facing a situation with your dad that you've never faced before. Or, it's also possible that your father's addiction has been going on for years. Either way, you needed to know what to do to help him. So many families feel stuck and almost paralyzed when faced with an addicted father. It's understandable because you've always thought of your dad as strong and capable. The fact that he's been weakened by an addiction can cause you to panic.
We know what you're going through is so difficult for you. We want you to know that you don't have to face this challenge alone. Substance abuse treatment offers your dad the best chance at a successful recovery. Many have gone through our drug treatment and alcohol treatment before. Because we address the source of the addiction, our success rate is higher than average.
If you need assistance with getting your dad to agree to drug and alcohol rehab, we can help you. Our intervention services can offer you and your family the additional tool you need.