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How to Get Help for Your Addicted Mom

What to do if Your Mom is an Addict

"My mom is an addict, and I just don't know what to do."

Discovering Your Mom Has an Addiction

"I'll admit that when I first found out she was an addict, my first instinct was to ignore it. I know now that wasn't the right way to handle it. I've always seen her as someone who was strong, and had it all together. She's always been the pillar of our family. I knew it wasn't good, and that it was a problem, but I thought she'd figure it out on her own. What I didn't realize was how far the addiction had taken her.

"My mom is a different person now than she was before. She's become hopeless and helpless. This is something that I'm not used to from her. She's always been such a great caregiver. She's taken such good care of me for my entire life. Even as an adult, she's been someone I can turn to for help. Now, that person is gone.

"The fact is that the tables have turned. She's the one who needs my help now, and I don't know how to give it. To be honest, I'm afraid to bring it up to her because I don't want to make her angry with me. I love my mom, but I've never felt so stuck in all my life. I need help."

- Daughter of an addict

Finding out that your mom has an addiction can be so scary. This is someone you've looked up to for your entire life.

Whether your mom is an alcoholic or a drug addict, it's so important for you to know what to do. Regardless of what your situation is, please know that there is a solution available to you. All hope is not lost, and you can find ways to help your mom through this time.

Perhaps you're in a situation where you suspect alcoholism or drug addiction for your mom, but you're not sure. Maybe you've been noticing some strange behaviors lately, and you think she may be drinking or using drugs. You'd be surprised how common this is.

Alcoholism and drug addiction aren't always very obvious. It helps if know what some of the symptoms of addiction are. You can look for any of the following in your mother:

  • Slurring her speech
  • Having memory problems
  • Feeling extremely tired most of the time
  • Having a lot more energy than usual
  • Glazed eyes
  • Very small or very large pupils
  • Bouts of confusion

You can also look for additional symptoms of addiction. These are more behavioral, and they include:

  • Using drugs or alcohol at inappropriate times
  • Needing to use substances upon waking up in the morning
  • Placing alcohol or drugs at a high place of importance
  • Withdrawal symptoms from drugs or alcohol
  • Feeling the need to use more alcohol or drugs than she used previously

Have you noticed any of these signs of addiction in your mom? If you have, she may be an alcoholic or a drug addict. If you're still not sure, try taking a family member addiction quiz. This quiz can give you even more insight into your mom's relationship with drugs or alcohol.

Why Did Your Mother Become a Drug Addict or an Alcoholic?

Moms work incredibly hard to care for their families, even when their children are adults. When they have small children at home, they spend their days cooking, cleaning, reading stories, etc. They help with homework, and they make sure their families are being taken care of. Mothers work hard; and even more so when they work outside of the home too. Their place within the family is immeasurable and incredibly valuable.

It's not surprising that so many mothers feel the need to turn to substances. Many of them use drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms.

Moms will frequently develop issues like depression or anxiety from having so much on their plates. When this occurs, they will often choose substances as a way to help their symptoms. When an addiction develops, they have co-occurring disorders that need to be treated.

It's difficult to say why your mom chose to start using drugs or alcohol. There could be a number of reasons. In many ways, a mom's addiction differs from a dad's addiction. For one, women are much more likely to struggle with co-occurring disorders. They often have mental health issues that frequently lead to addiction.

Most importantly, you need to know that regardless of what caused your mom's addiction, she can get help to recover.

Addicted Mom

How Can You Encourage Your Mother to go to Alcohol Rehab or Drug Rehab?

You've built up the courage to have a conversation with your mom about going to drug or alcohol rehab. The problem is that you're really not sure where to begin, or how to go about it. Taking the following steps can help you so much.

  • Take the time to understand addiction. Those who have never been addicted have a difficult time understanding it. You may be of the belief that your mom should just stop using. That way everything in your family can go back to normal. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. The more you know about addiction, the more you can help your mom.
  • Talk with your mom when she's sober. This might mean going over to her house early in the morning for coffee. You could even take her out to breakfast before she's had a chance to use that day. If she's sober, it's more likely for your message to be heard.
  • Appeal to her emotions. No mother likes to know they're hurting their child. Let her know how her addiction is affecting you. If you have children, let her know how it's affecting her grandchildren.
  • Be firm, but loving in the things you say to your mom. Let her know that you are there for her, and you want to support her emotionally.
  • Ask her to agree to drug treatment or alcohol treatment.

Are You Enabling Your Mom’s Addiction?

Unfortunately, families are often to blame for allowing addictions to continue. They don’t realize it, but their actions make it much easier for their loved ones to keep using. This could be an issue within your family as well.

What is Enabling?

Enabling is when you do something for your mom to help her, but it actually encourages her addiction. If you're doing this, you're probably not aware that you are. In your heart and mind, you're doing things for her because you want to help, and because you love her. What you might not realize is that many of your actions are only making it easy for her to use.

Some examples of enabling include:

  • Taking her to pick up drugs or alcohol
  • Allowing her to live in your home while she uses
  • Bringing her meals to be sure she has something to eat
  • Lying to other people about your mom's addiction
  • Refusing to talk with her about her substance abuse problem

Far too often, addictive behavior is allowed to continue for moms because their children enable them. If you're doing any of the above, the time to stop is right now.

Will an Intervention Result in Alcohol and Drug Treatment for Your Mom?

If you do have a conversation with your mom about her addiction, she might not be that receptive. She may insist that she doesn't have a problem, or she may promise to get help very soon. If her response is negative, it may be time for an intervention.

Intervention services can be so helpful for people in your position.

An intervention is a meeting between you, your mom, an interventionist and other friends and family. You will all get the opportunity to talk to your mom about her addiction. You'll also be able to ask her to get help.

If she chooses to get help, the interventionist will facilitate that right away. Many times, people do agree to go to addiction treatment immediately.

If Your Mom is an Alcoholic, She Needs Treatment

If your mother is battling alcoholism, it can cause you a lot of stress and anxiety. It is our hope that she agrees to get the help she needs. If she does, you may have a lot of questions as her son or daughter.

Professional treatment is the best option for your mom. She will need both alcohol detox and rehab in order to recover. During her stay, the staff will make sure that all of her needs are met. Let’s take a moment and discuss what her treatment will be like.

Alcoholics must go through detox when they decide to stop drinking. This is a process by which toxins are removed from the body to help the person recover. Withdrawal symptoms are very common when people stop drinking. Sometimes they are fairly mild, but they can become quite severe in some cases. Detoxing can potentially help your mom avoid many dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

In addition, detoxing from alcohol will also make withdrawal much more bearable. People who go through detox will experience less severe symptoms because of the treatments they receive.

If your mom is an alcoholic, alcohol detox is a must for her. Not only will the entire process be easier, but she’ll have a better chance of maintaining long-term sobriety.

Inpatient Alcohol Detoxification Programs Most experts agree that alcoholics need be admitted into an inpatient alcohol detox center for treatment. There is so much that can go wrong once they stop drinking. If they detox on an outpatient basis, they could experience significant complications from withdrawal.

At an inpatient alcohol detoxification facility, your mom will get all the support she needs. She also won’t be able to relapse if she feels tempted to drink. She’ll always have someone to talk to when she’s struggling with how she feels.

Although you may come across some outpatient detox programs for treating alcoholism, we highly recommend choosing an inpatient program. While it may sound more convenient and favorable having your mother at home, it is a lot riskier and less effective than when she is detoxing under professional supervision.

Many people who suffer with alcoholism have never experienced what real alcohol withdrawal is like. They may have gotten a small taste of it if they’ve gone for a few hours without a drink. What they don’t realize is that the symptoms can become unbearable. Not only that, but in some people, they can even become fatal.

It is possible to die from alcohol withdrawal. Most people tend to think of alcohol as being safe because it’s so widely available. You should be aware of the potential alcohol withdrawal symptoms your mom might encounter.

When your mother withdraws from alcohol, she’s likely to have symptoms that range from mild to severe. Some of the more common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Shakiness in her hands
  • Painful headaches
  • Hot and/or cold sweats
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bouts of anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping at night

Of course, she will also experience cravings for alcohol. At times, the cravings can become intense, and she may not be able to think about anything else. Fortunately, if she’s in a detox center, they can help her through them.

Your mother may feel that she’s too busy to enter into a professional alcohol detoxification center. Sadly, this reaction is typical. She may even try to talk you into assisting her with an at-home detox.

There are many so-called natural detox remedies for alcohol online. She may look up information on how to taper down her use slowly, and want to try that. Regardless, you need to stay strong and not give in to her. Any type of at-home detox is dangerous for an alcoholic. She needs to be in a professional setting where she can get medical help.

The Risk for Delirium Tremens (DTs)

Delirium tremens is a form of alcohol withdrawal that doesn’t happen to everyone. However, there are some individuals who may be at a higher risk of experiencing it. It often occurs for people who have been drinking for more than ten years. It’s also possible that she could have it if she has been drinking excessively on a daily basis for several months.

The DTs can be fatal if left untreated. If your mom is in an alcohol detox program, the withdrawal treatments she receives can help her avoid it.

The symptoms of delirium tremens include:

  • Severe bouts of confusion
  • Changes in the way she thinks
  • Feeling sensitive to light, sound and touch
  • Extreme fatigue and even stupor
  • Having hallucinations
  • Sleeping for an entire day or longer
  • Becoming extremely agitated or irritable

The DTs are more common within the first 12 to 48 hours after alcohol use has stopped. However, they have been known to happen as long as ten days after the last drink.

Your mom may remain in alcohol detox for between a few days and almost two weeks. Typically, these types of programs last around seven to ten days. Of course, everyone is different as far as how they respond to their treatments.

The most important thing for you to do is to be a source of encouragement for her. She needs you to be strong for her during this time. No matter how long it takes, trust that she is in the right place to get help.

After your mother has gone through the detoxification process, she’ll be ready for the next phase of her alcoholism recovery. Be prepared, because she may try to convince you that she’s ready to go home. In fact, she may truly believe that she’s all better. Please know that she still has more work to do after she’s been through alcohol detox. It’s very important for her to continue on to rehab.

Why Does Your Mother Need Alcohol Rehab?

Your mother needs to go to an alcohol rehab to work on the mental part of her addiction. She may not believe it, but there is a part of her that thinks she needs to drink. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

It’s possible that she’s been leaning on alcohol for years as a way to cope with her problems. If she doesn’t learn new ways to handle them, she’ll quickly go back to drinking again. That is what going to a treatment program for alcoholics is going to do for her.

The Goal of Alcoholism Rehabilitation Programs

When your mom goes to alcoholism treatment, the goal will be twofold. First they will want to determine the cause of the addiction. Her alcohol dependence may have been caused by a co-occurring disorder, such as anxiety or depression. It’s also possible that it was caused because of excess stress in her life.

Second, they will work closely with her to help treat the cause and offer other ways to cope. She will come up with a relapse prevention plan that she can use after rehab. Meeting both of these goals will be critical for her long-term sobriety.

Types of Rehab Centers for Alcoholics

There are many different types of alcoholism treatment facilities. The right method for your mom will depend on what her needs are. You may want to be involved in the process of helping her decide.

Many alcoholics find that inpatient care is really the best option for them. An excellent inpatient rehab will meet all of her needs. They will carefully devise a treatment plan specifically for her. She’ll be getting personalized care and attention while she’s at the treatment center.

When it comes to inpatient rehab vs. outpatient treatment, most people need that higher level of care. They need to be far removed from the source of their addictions to alcohol. This allows them to take the time to concentrate on recovering the right way.

For most people, outpatient alcohol treatment centers are best utilized later on. Your mom might not get enough support if she immediately chooses this type of setting. It might seem more convenient for her, but she won’t get as much time with her therapist.

In an outpatient alcoholism rehab, she will only see her therapist sporadically. At first, her appointments might be once a week, and that’s usually not enough. This type of treatment does have its place, but it’s best to wait until she’s further along in recovery.

It’s possible that your mom really can’t commit to an inpatient facility for treatment. This is the case for many people. They often work full time, or they have small children at home. If this is her situation, an intensive outpatient program (IOP) offers a great alternative.

IOPs are very flexible, which might be what she needs. If she works, she won’t have to take time off to go to rehab. Her appointments will probably be in the evening, although she’ll need to attend them several times a week. During that time, she’ll get to talk with her therapist and participate in group counseling sessions.

For some people, even inpatient alcohol rehab isn’t enough. If your mom has been drinking for most of her life, or if she’s relapsed, she may need more time. At this point, it might be best to seek out a residential alcohol treatment program for her.

Residential alcoholism treatment would allow her to stay at the facility for much longer. She may receive in-house treatment, or she may be required to find her own IOP. While she’s there, she’ll learn new coping skills. She’ll also be surrounded by other patients who will be a tremendous source of support.

How Long Will Your Mother be at the Alcohol Treatment Facility?

The duration of your mom’s treatment will all depend on the type of alcohol rehab center she’s chosen. Inpatient programs usually run for about 30 days. An IOP will last for around 12 weeks. If she needs long-term care, she may be able to stay as long as six months.

Regardless of the duration, you need to know that she’s doing the right thing. Taking the time to recover now is going to help her so much in the months and years to come.

What You Need to Know About Treatment if Your Mother is a Drug Addict

Perhaps your mother is a drug addict. Whether she is using prescription medications or illegal street drugs, she needs to get help. It’s important for you to know what she can expect as she seeks treatment.

Will She Need a Drug Detox Program?

Depending on the type of drug your mom is using, she may need to go through drug detox. This is the process of assisting her body with the removal of toxins. There are different ways of going through this, and we’ll talk more about them in just a minute.

Drug detoxification is going to help your mother so much. It may seem like an extra step, and you both may be eager to just get her into rehab. However, detoxing is going to assist with her cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. You want to address the physical side of her addiction first. That’s going to help her get started on the right path.

There are several different drugs that require detoxification prior to rehab. For example, if your mom has been using stimulants (both illegal and prescription), she’ll need to detox. This is also the case for prescribed opiates and heroin.

All of these are drugs that can cause a lot of problems when they’re stopped abruptly. Medical care is often needed to avoid any possible complications that can arise.

Perhaps you or your mom have researched how to safely detox from drugs at home. It makes sense that you might be nervous about having her go away to get addiction help. However, we want to encourage you to opt for a medical detox program.

You will find many different products on the market for detoxification. There are drug detox cleanses, drinks and kits, and they all promise great results. Unfortunately, none of them are FDA approved. It could be dangerous to use them, so it’s best to avoid them.

Medicated Assisted Treatment for Drug Addiction

There are many different types of medications that can be used to treat certain types of drug addictions. This is called medication assisted treatment, or MAT. It is commonly used for those who are addicted to opioid or opiate drugs. However, research is ongoing for the possibility of using it with other addictions as well.

MAT can help by improving the severity of withdrawal. Medications like Vivitrol, Suboxone and Buprenorphine have shown to be very effective. Patients are also required to participate with counseling while they receive this type of therapy.

The Benefits of an Inpatient Detox Program

It is possible to detox from drugs on an outpatient basis in some situations. However, there are many benefits to going to an inpatient detoxification program. It will help your mom to be removed from the source of her addiction. She won’t have any access to drugs, so relapsing won’t be possible.

While she’s at the drug detox program, she’ll receive the best possible care. This is critical because it’s going to contribute to her long-term success.

How Long Will it Take Your Mother to Detox From Drugs?

Again, the timeframe for detox varies from person to person. Your mom should plan on being there for between seven to ten days. However, she might feel better much sooner than that.

Is it Absolutely Necessary to go to Substance Abuse Treatment After Detoxing?

After your mother has been through detox, drug rehab will be her next step. This is vital because she needs to learn what it was that led to her addiction. Determining the cause of drug dependence is critical, because otherwise, real healing can’t take place.

Please don’t allow your mother to skip this important step. If she doesn’t continue to get the care she needs, it will probably only be a matter of time before she relapses.

Your Mom’s Drug Rehab Experience

If your mother has never been to a drug rehabilitation center before, she might be nervous. You might be a little bit concerned as well. It’s important to know what you can expect.

She will meet with her therapist very soon after her arrival. They will want to get to know her better and they’ll ask her a lot of questions about herself. She’ll talk about her past and her present, as well as any future goals she’d like to accomplish.

Her therapist’s job will be to determine if she has a co-occurring disorder. If she doesn’t, the cause of the addiction will be defined. Once they know the cause they can begin treating it.

Group therapy will also be a big part of the recovery process for your mom. She’ll spend time in many different support groups, talking with other patients. They’ll cover a wide variety of topics and she’ll get the peer support she needs.

There are many other forms of therapy your mother will be participating in as well. Family therapy is usually a big part of the recovery process. You may be invited in to participate. She may also take part in yoga classes, art and music therapy, and equine therapy.

The more varied her treatment plan is, the better her rehab experience will be. It’s so important to treat every possible area because this results in a well-rounded experience.

Types of Drug Treatment Available to Your Mother

Your mom will have several different types of treatment available to her. You should decide together what you think will be the best option.

Many families decide that going to an inpatient treatment program is the best option available to them. An inpatient drug treatment facility will provide her with support around the clock. She’ll always be able to find a staff member if she has a question, or just needs someone to talk to.

Your mom may even want to consider going farther away from home to get treatment. Many people decide to do this, and they look at it as a getaway. It can be very helpful to take some time away from your ordinary surroundings. It may allow her to focus more intently on meeting her recovery goals.

Your mom may also want to consider going to an IOP close to home. This would allow her to still live at home while she gets the help she needs. This type of program is a great option for many people who can’t get inpatient care. You should talk with her and find out if this is a method she might prefer.

What Should She do After She’s Gone to Rehab?

You may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief if your mom has agreed to go to treatment. However, we want to caution you that her recovery cannot end there.

It’s wonderful that she has taken the first steps to improve her life and stop using drugs or alcohol. However, there is so much more work that needs to be done. You will receive recommendations for aftercare for your mother. Please follow their instructions. Continuing to get help is what will make the difference for her in the long run.

Get Support During Your Mother's Addiction and Recovery

You may be spending all your time caring for your mom, and no time caring for yourself. So many people do this when a loved one has an addiction. In order to care for her, you have to take the time to care for yourself. You can do this by:

  • Spending time with others you love. This might mean your own family or close friends.
  • Don't neglect going to the doctor for regular checkups. This can cause a lot of stress for you, and your health is important.
  • Attending a support group like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, which are for families of addicts.
  • Getting online support through a group like The Tribe Wellness Community.
  • Meeting with a therapist to talk about the issues you're facing.

Addiction Treatment and Other Resources are Available for Your Mom

The moment you found out your mom was an addict, you felt devastated. You didn't know what you were going to do. Perhaps you tried to ignore the situation at first, hoping that it would work itself out. Unfortunately, ignoring a substance abuse problem generally only makes it worse. Addictions don't go away on their own, even though we wish they would. The addict herself may even wish that it would go away. However, without proper drug treatment or alcohol treatment, it will persist.

At Northpoint Washington, we want to offer you our services. We know this is an incredibly difficult time for you. We know it's hard to fathom the idea that the most important woman in your life is an addict.

Sometimes you can't even believe you're in this situation. It's understandable that right now, you feel helpless. However, we want you to know that you don't have to continue to feel that way.

Drug and alcohol rehab can make such a difference in your mom's life; and in your family as a whole. When your mom goes to addiction treatment, she'll be able to work through the issues that led to her addiction. She'll have the opportunity to meet with you and other family members during family therapy meetings. This will only help to strengthen and heal your relationship with one of the most important people in your life. It may take an intervention to help your mom see the need for professional help. We can provide you with that service too.

Do you have an addicted mom? Are you looking for help to encourage her to go to alcohol or drug rehab? Please contact us today so that we can assist 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.

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