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Helpful Advice for Parents of Addicts
Few things can break a parent’s heart as profoundly as a child who becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. Not only does addiction threaten to do irreparable damage to your son or daughter’s health, future dreams, and career aspirations, but drug and alcohol addiction can wreak havoc on the entire family as well. The subsequent journey of trying to help your teen or young adult child into recovery is not for the feint of heart, and the post-recovery phase can be incredibly stressful.
When parents first become aware that their teen or young adult child has been abusing drugs or alcohol, even becoming addicted, it may catch them completely off guard. Once the pure shock lightens a bit the next reflex of the parent might be putting their head under the blanket and praying it was just a bad dream. Parents never get a manual showing them how to manage an addicted child, so denial is understandable. However, once it is realized that the child is, indeed, addicted a powerful sense of urgency—driven by the desire to fix this, to make it go away—kicks in.
Parents of addicts are in a club that nobody would ever want to be a member of. Addiction can cause emotional pain, financial woes, trigger health problems, and generally suck the oxygen out of the household, impacting siblings. There are some helpful measures to take, including advice for parents of addicts, that can help alleviate some of the fear and stress while also providing support for the addicted child.
Tips and Advice for Parents of Addicts
Parents soon learn that addiction is a formidable adversary, difficult to understand and even more difficult to manage. While attempting to get a handle on the situation, parents can easily fall into co-dependency, a destructive and very common dynamic that develops between the addict and their loved one when a parent simply wants to rescue their child from the clutches of addiction, but can actually advance the disease and dysfunction.
Learning how to set boundaries, establish and reinforce consistent guidelines with clearly stated consequences, and protect themselves is essential to parents of addicts. With this in mind, here is some helpful advice for parents of addicts:
- Get educated. This step cannot be overstated, as learning about the disease of addiction is empowering when facing the battle. In addition to helpful online resources, there are some excellent books on the subject including Addict in the Family, by Beverly Conyers, Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff, and How to Help the One You Love, by Brad Lamm.
- Strengthen communication. Because recovery from addiction is a lifelong process, it is helpful for parents to go into this realm well equipped. Open, assertive communication and active listening is important to practice with the afflicted child. This allows the child to share their emotional state and verbalize their struggles in recovery in a supportive environment. Strong communication ties can act as a lifesaver in recovery when the child feels sobriety is threatened.
- Be consistent. It is exhausting to monitor an addicted family member. In all likelihood, trust has been broken, lies have been told, and money has been stolen. Setting clear boundaries in recovery and establishing rules that will be enforced is key in providing a safe home environment for all. Adhere to any consequences that are attached to breaching boundaries or house rules. People in recovery benefit from having a regular and predictable schedule for daily activities.
- Practice self-care. Parents of an addict child can become depleted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. To keep up the strength needed to endure the challenges of an addict in the family, it is crucial to practice self-care. This includes getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and mindfulness exercises, leaning on spiritual beliefs, and visiting friends and loved ones.
- Get support. It is helpful to enlist the professional guidance of a therapist to help manage powerful emotions of anger, fear, resentment, and frustration that commonly accompany addiction in the family. Support groups, such as Al-anon, Nar-anon, SMART Recovery Family and Friends, and Families Anonymous, can offer compassion, education, and peer support.
Guidance on Intervention and Treatment Options
The Treatment Specialist will connect you to a treatment center that can offer guidance and advice for parents of addicts searching for appropriate drug or alcohol addiction treatment. These services include a free assessment, guidance on intervention if needed, and a free insurance check of covered benefits. If you loved one is struggling with meth substance abuse to heroin or opioids, alcohol, meth, or any other substances, help is available. For help getting your loved one into a treatment program for your addicted son or daughter, call a Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.