Dealing with addicted parents can be quite challenging for children. If you have a parent that is struggling with alcohol or another drug addiction, you’re far from the only one. In fact, alcoholism alone affects the parents of 10 percent of adult children according to research done by the National Institute on Alcoholism. Although it isn’t uncommon to be an adult child of an addicted individual, it’s still dangerous. Older adults who live a lifestyle of active addiction are at higher risk for increased physical consequences of addiction. And, because active addiction has been going on for quite some time, it may be harder for these individuals to obtain successful and long-term recovery. But, it’s important to know that recovery and healing from addiction IS possible, even for parents of adult children. And, there are even things that children of these individuals can do to help.
Important Understandings for Children Dealing with Addicted Parents
Although there are certainly things you can do to help addicted parents, there are also a few things that you should know about your parent’s addiction. Addiction is a disease that many may be in denial about, so setting boundaries and treading carefully can be helpful in encouraging those who need help to seek it. Understand that:
You Can’t Force Addicted Parents: Remember that the addiction is your parent’s. And, no one can force addicted parents to go to treatment but themselves. You can, however, encourage them to get the help they need in an effective way. Also, you can determine boundaries which may encourage addicted parents to get the help they need.
Your Parent’s Addiction was not Caused by You: All too often, adult children attribute a parent’s addiction to themselves. It’s important to limit this unhealthy thought and understand that the cause of your parent’s addiction is not you. No matter what you’ve said or done, if you would have acted differently, your parent would be still struggling with their disease.
It’s Not Your Job to Rectify your Parent’s Addiction: Just as it’s not your fault that your parent is struggling with addiction, it’s also not your job to provide healing for addiction. This includes financial responsibilities for treatment and transportation to and from meetings or counseling sessions. You can, however, support your parent if and when they decide to get help for their own addiction.
How Children of Addicted Parents can Take Care of Themselves
Although you may be wanting to help your parent with their addiction, you need to focus on yourself first. Addiction is a disease that not only affects the individual addicted, but their loved ones as well. If you find that you feel responsible for a parent’s addiction or you have experienced mental, emotional, or physical consequences as a result of your parent’s addiction, you may benefit from addiction help resources. There are a number of online communities, such as Smart Recovery, that offer help for loved ones of addicted individual. Additionally, treatment facilities, both inpatient and outpatient, often offer family counseling services for loved ones of an addicted individual. You can either take advantage of these services when your parent enters treatment together, or you can seek the help of these services on your own. If you’d like to learn more about the family counseling services offered at Diablo Valley Drug & Alcohol Services, please visit our website.
Finally, another thing you can do to help both you and your addicted parent is to learn as much about addiction as possible. It’s true that knowledge is power, as Sir Francis Bacon once proclaimed. With knowledge about addiction, you can learn and implement a number of techniques that will offer support and encouragement for your addicted loved one. Additionally, children of addicted individuals are at a higher risk for developing addiction themselves due to genetic and societal factors. Educating yourself about addiction can help you understand these risks so that you can prevent the same in your own life.
Talking to your Parent about Their Addiction
You can’t force your parent to get help through treatment for their addiction. But, you can suggest that they do so. Schedule a time to confront your parent’s addiction in which they are sober. If they’re sober, they’re more likely to accept the possibility that they’re struggling with addiction and less likely to react sourly. Additionally, instead of making judgmental statements, make sure you tell your parent that you care about their health and safety. By offering support and encouragement instead of judgment, your parent is more likely to understand where you are coming from.
Finally, provide them with an outlet to seek help immediately. If this conversation doesn’t work, a last ditch effort may be an intervention service. An intervention is a guided meeting with the family and loved ones of an addicted individual in which they are given the option to enroll into treatment. Otherwise, they will have to deal with ultimatum consequences set by family and friends during the intervention meeting. To talk to one of our experience representatives about the intervention program, please give us a call today at (925) 289-1430.