How Can I Help My Adult Child with Drug or Alcohol Addiction?
Helping their children through difficult times is what parents do. While parents may hope that their children will stop needing so much support as they enter and progress through adulthood, the reality is that many adult children still turn to their parents when in need or in trouble. If you suspect that your adult child is suffering from substance use disorder, you might be their first line of help.
Finding Addiction Treatment & Support for Adult Children
As a parent, you know your child’s habits, temperament, and tendencies in ways that others in their life may not. You may be the first to notice when something about your adult child’s behavior seems off. Yet if your child has their own home–maybe even their own spouse and family–what can you do? Even if you’re no longer actively part of your child’s daily life, there are still effective ways to help.
Don’t Ignore the Problems You See
One of the most common missteps parents make is not opening up to their adult children about what they see. You may think they know what they are doing, or maybe you don’t want to get yelled at for interfering. Maybe you think that as long as they are working and managing their lives, they don’t need your help. Remember, though, that even those who seem to be handling their addiction will eventually crash. In addition, addiction causes physical health risks and mental strife. It will break down relationships if it hasn’t already.
Establish Boundaries with Them
As your child’s addiction progresses, they may start to ask for money to meet financial obligations. They may rely on you more and more for childcare, or they may ask you to make excuses or lie for them when they miss work or a family function. While you may want to do everything you can to help your child, be careful that your actions are not enabling their addiction.
It can be hard to create boundaries. Start by having an open conversation about how their use is affecting you and what you will no longer allow. For example, you may not allow them to be in your home while they are intoxicated. You may stop giving them money until they take steps to get treatment.
Learn to Communicate Effectively
When your adult son or daughter is facing addiction, they may have less control over what’s happening to them than you know. Here are some key tips for communicating your concerns:
- Don’t berate them for the choices they’ve made. Addiction is a disease. The substances take over and limit your child’s ability to make good choices.
- Avoid the tough love talk. “This is not the way I raised you” is not the way to approach a disease. It only increases your child’s shame, and shame fuels addiction.
- Address the behavior, not the person. Talk about how their behavior affects you: “When I hear that you’ve been out all night, that makes me worry.”
- Listen to what they are saying. Could your son or daughter be dealing with a mental illness they are trying to self-medicate against through alcohol or drugs?
- Tell them you will help them. Instead of telling them you’ll cut them out of your life, say something like, “I want you to have control over your decisions again. I will help you when you are ready to get sober.”
We Can Help
One of the most powerful things you can do for your child is to work with them and/or their spouse to line up drug and alcohol treatment for them. You can start by contacting our addiction treatment program in Lafayette, LA. Let our counselors help you to find the right treatment and care for your son or daughter’s needs. While they still need to make the decision to get help, having a treatment plan ready for them can make that decision easier for them.
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