Menu Close

My Dad is an Addict. What Can I Do?

What to do if Your Dad is an Addict

"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."

Addiction and Your Dad

"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.

Recognizing the Signs of Drug Addiction or Alcoholism in Your Dad

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:

  • Glassy, red or bloodshot eyes
  • Problems with speaking clearly
  • Medical problems that are tied to drugs or alcohol
  • Pain throughout the body
  • Memory loss or confusion

Sometimes it's easier to identify an addiction by looking at some behavioral signs. These might include:

  • Experiencing cravings for alcohol or drugs
  • Becoming angry, upset or even violent when substances aren't available
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Needing to use higher amounts of drugs or alcohol to get the same results
  • Attempting to stop using on one's own without success

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.

Denial Can Strike the Children of Addicted Fathers Too

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.

It's possible that your father's addiction has been in the back of your mind for quite some time. You may have even known it was there for years, you just couldn't deal with it.

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.

Addicted Dad

Enabling Your Addicted or Alcoholic Dad, and How to Stop

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:

  • Taking on your dad's responsibilities. You might bring him groceries, cook his meals, fill his car with gas, or pay his bills.
  • Lying to others in your family about your dad's behaviors and/or addiction.
  • Making excuses for your dad's behavior in public.
  • Giving your dad money because he spent all of his on alcohol or drugs.
  • Cleaning your dad's house for him because he can't do it on his own.
  • Avoiding discussing the addiction with your father because he might get angry with you.

Why is Your Dad a Drug or Alcohol Addict?

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:

  • He was experiencing some stress at work and wanted to use to unwind
  • He was having relationship problems that drove him to use drugs or drink
  • He had a mental health condition, and substances were a way to relieve symptoms. This is known as a co-occurring disorder.
  • He had financial problems that he felt he couldn't handle on his own.
  • He had a parent who was also an addict, and that influenced his behaviors.

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.

How to Help Your Father with His Addiction

More than anything, you want to help your dad stop using drugs or alcohol. There are a few different ways you can do this.

Have a Conversation with Your Dad

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.

Schedule an Intervention for Your Dad

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.

Resources for Children of Alcoholics and Drug Addicts are Available

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:

  • Confiding in a close friend or family member you can trust.
  • Joining a support group like Nar-Anon or Al-Anon. These support groups were created to help families of addicts and give them support.
  • Going to your medical doctor to make sure you stay healthy.
  • Getting online support for families of addicts through a group like The Tribe.
  • Taking time for yourself to spend with your own family, or do spend time with your closest friends.

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.

Alcohol Rehab and Drug Rehab Offers Hope for Your Father and Your Family

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.

Fortunately, there are so many different ways that you can help your addicted or alcoholic father. You don't have to remain in a state of confusion or anxiety. At Northpoint Washington, we work with so many families on a regular basis.

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.

Do you have an addicted dad who is refusing addiction treatment? Do you need more information about substance abuse treatment with Northpoint Washington? Please contact us today. We're standing by to help.


  • (2017). Al-Anon Family Groups. Retrieved from:
  • (2017). Nar-Anon Family Groups. Retrieved from:
  • (2017). The Tribe Wellness Community. Retrieved from: