Helping a Parent who suffers from Addiction
Any parent struggling with addiction needs the help and support of their family. Children of an addicted parent need to know about drug and alcohol abuse and dependence. This knowledge will help them effectively cope with the situation and help their parent. Very often, addicts are in denial about their addiction and the fact that they need help. As an addict’s situation becomes worse, it acts as a wake-up call and they are willing to get help. When traumatic events take place, like getting arrested or finding themselves homeless and helpless, addicts are forced to face the truth. This is the time for the children to act quickly to get help, before the parent changes his or her mind. Too often, cravings and the wrong environment will begin to draw the addict back into using drugs or alcohol. Family members need to use this short window of opportunity to get their parent into a rehab program. Helping a parent who suffers from addiction can be difficult, but there is hope. There are in-patient and out-patient rehab programs available that are designed to meet each person’s individual needs. If the parent is willing to get help, the first step in recovering from substance abuse and addiction has begun.
Identifying traumatic events from the parent’s past, involving drugs or alcohol, are good examples to remind the parent why they need to recover. It might be a friend or family member who overdosed or that the parent is estranged from their spouse or other family members because of substance abuse. These are real examples of the parent’s life that were negatively affected by substance abuse. The parent has to be made to realize that this is why they need to get well. Getting well may give the parent the opportunity to re-connect with family members sometime in the future when they are living sober. It will also take away the fear that they and their loved ones have about the parent dying from an overdose.
Some addicts are complacent about their addiction even when they are facing obstacles. They may have a health problem, lose their job or face the loss of a loved one because of addiction. These problems may or may not push an addict into seeking help. Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol usually seeks helps when they are forced to or when their situation becomes unbearable. Only when there is enough stress on them will they willingly admit they need help. That is why it is so important not to enable the parent to continue using drugs or alcohol by making life easy for them.
What Not to DO
Children should not feed or house their parent when the parent could go to work and provide for them self. The parent may take advantage of the situation and spend that time getting high when they should be at work. As long as the parent knows that their needs are being met, they may continue to abuse drugs or alcohol. Tough love requires that the children make the parent become responsible for them self. They will have to stay sober enough to hold down a job, feed them self and pay their own bills.
To the parent, the most important member of the family is the one whose opinion they respect the most. This person should be leading in the plan of recovery for the parent because the parent will listen to them. Any family member who is playing the name, blame, shame game may want to step out of the recovery process. Arguing and creating hostility is not the right path for healing. Instead, the atmosphere should be one of love, support, hope and reassurance. Encourage the parent all through the rehabilitation process, even if there are setbacks. Recovering from a setback is only a matter of getting back on course, focusing on what is important and working toward getting well.
Getting your Loved One into Addiction Treatment
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the White Sands Treatment Center at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.