How to Deal with Drug Addicted Parents

Trying to get people to realize they need addiction treatment is difficult. It can be even harder for children to convince their parents that they have an alcohol or drug use problem. Parents aren’t used to taking advice from their kids. But children can be influential and help save a parent’s life.
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Whether you’re a teenager who lives with a parent with an addiction or an adult who sees the impact that substance abuse is having from afar, you can speak up. No person is too young or too old to help a loved one.

Show Your Love

Addiction is an isolating disease. Many people turn to alcohol or other drugs to escape reality. Others are driven into isolation out of embarrassment or fear of what others will think of them. They may have lost friendships and relationships because of alcohol or drug use.

Children may be that best people to convince a parent with an addiction to seek professional help. It’s important to show your parents that you love them and care about them. Let them know that they aren’t alone and that you’re willing to support them.

That doesn’t mean you’ll enable them by giving them money or letting them take advantage of you. It means you’re willing to help them through the recovery process. Recovering from addiction is difficult, but it’s easier when you have assistance from someone who loves you and cares about you.

Learn more about the difference between helping and enabling

Eliminate Stigma

Parents don’t like to look weak in front of their children. They may believe that they’re pathetic because they’re unable to stop using drugs or alcohol. They may have grown up learning that addiction is a choice or a moral problem.

The anti-drug campaigns that your parents were exposed to as children likely taught them that only criminals use drugs. They may think of themselves as criminals that bring shame to their family. However, many communities no longer see addiction as a criminal justice problem.

Let your mom or dad know that you don’t believe they’re immoral and you don’t think they’re weak. Explain that addiction is a disease that requires treatment like any other medical condition. Through your actions and words, let them know that you aren’t embarrassed by their disease.

Learn more about the stigma associated with addiction

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Have Resources Ready

People with substance use disorders often see no way to escape their disease. The substances that they use cause changes in the brain that prevent them from quitting on their own. That makes it seem like there is no hope for recovery.

Show them that there is hope. Explain how medications, therapy and support help thousands of people recover from addiction.

Learn more about addiction treatment

Find schedules for local support group meetings to show them that there are other people in your community in recovery. Meeting schedules for most support groups are available online.

Contact local rehab centers and learn about treatment options. Call your parents’ insurance provider to learn about the cost of rehab. It may be expensive, but it’s worth it. Most rehab facilities find ways to help clients pay for treatment. Don’t let your parents say it’s impossible. Show them that resources are available and help them connect with people who can give first-hand accounts of the benefits of life in recovery.

Explain How You’ve Been Affected

Many people with addiction are unable to understand how their behaviors affect others. Parents may not realize the impact that alcohol or drug use has on their children. Or they may be hiding the truth from themselves.

Your goal should not be to guilt trip or shame your mother or father into seeking rehab. Your goal should be to make them confront and understand the consequences of their actions.

Most parents care more about their children than anything else. When they realize how their disease is affecting the people that they care about, they may realize that they need help. Understanding how their actions hurt others may motivate them to put energy and effort into recovery.

Consider a Formal Intervention

It can be difficult to communicate with people with substance use disorders. The disease makes them act compulsive and emotionally. You may be inclined to react emotionally when your parents don’t listen to you.

Certified interventionists are trained to help family members listen to one another. They teach loved ones about the disease of addiction and how to appropriately participate in an intervention. Real interventions aren’t like the interventions on TV. They should be calm, planned events.

Interventionists can provide family members with a list of reputable treatment centers. They’ll help you find and access recovery resources.

Learn more about interventions

Control What You Can Control

You can’t force an adult to go to rehab. You can do your best to communicate with your mom or dad. But if they refuse to listen, you can’t control their behavior.

You can control how their behavior affects you. Parents with substance use disorders often do things that hurt their children emotionally. Sometimes they hurt their loved ones physically. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim of abusive behavior.

Get support if you’re being emotionally or physically impacted by your mom or dad’s substance abuse. That may mean calling law enforcement if they’re physically harming you. It may also mean seeking therapy or help from a support group, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

It isn’t fair for you to suffer from the effects of someone else’s addiction. You have to look out for your own safety and health before you can look out for your mom or dad’s. Sometimes it takes time for people to admit they need help. Make sure that you’re ready to help your parents when they’re ready to listen.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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