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How to Cope When a Parent is Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol

Addiction can be devastating in every area of a person’s life. It can cause significant, sometimes life-threatening harm to a person’s mental and physical health. Addiction can strain essential relationships and cause people’s behavior to change drastically. Many people need addiction treatment to overcome their substance abuse and learn the skills to maintain a healthy, sober lifestyle.

It is difficult to watch someone you love struggle with the effects of an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Coping with an addicted parent can be especially challenging. If you are living with a parent who is struggling with addiction, you must seek the support you need to help them get treatment. Reach out to the Mandala Healing Center specialists for support today. 

Signs You Are Living With a Parent Who is Struggling With Addiction

You may not always realize that your parent is struggling with addiction until they have lived with the condition for a long time. Recognizing the signs of addiction is an essential first step in helping your addicted parent. Signs of addiction you may notice include:

  • Your parent uses drugs or drinks alcohol more than they did before
  • They need more of the substance to get the desired effect
  • Your parent experiences health problems related to their substance use
  • They continue to use drugs or drink despite experiencing negative consequences
  • Your parent has legal or financial problems related to their drug or alcohol use
  • They experience withdrawal symptoms when they are not using or drinking
  • They cannot work, care for family members, or meet their own basic needs–this includes things like shopping, cooking, cleaning, and paying bills
  • You see them using drugs or drinking or find evidence that they have been abusing substances

Keep track of any signs of addiction you notice. Write them down. If you are a minor child, share your experience with a teacher, family member, or another trusted adult. 

What is it Like Living with a Parent Who is Struggling With Addiction?

Each person has their own experience of living with an addicted parent. Depending on your age and relationship with your parent, you may have a range of feelings. Adult children who do not depend on their parents may have a different reaction than young children who live in the home.

Regardless of your age, a parent’s addiction may take an emotional toll on you. People living with a parent who is struggling with addiction may feel:

  • Angry at their parent
  • Embarrassed by their parent’s behavior
  • Worried about their health and safety
  • Unsafe at home
  • Frustrated by their parent’s inability to change
  • Scared
  • Disappointed in their parent

Children in a home with an addicted parent are more likely to struggle at school, have a hard time maintaining friendships, and experience abuse, neglect, and financial instability. They may feel pressured to conceal their parent’s problems by hiding their home life from others. In many cases, they may keep their feelings to themselves and not reach out for the help they need.

5 Ways to Cope With an Addicted Parent

Living with a parent who is struggling with addiction can be challenging and highly emotional. There are some steps you can take to get the help you and your addicted parent need.

1. Ask for help from a trusted friend, family member, teacher, or counselor.

No matter your age, you shouldn’t have to deal with a parent’s addiction on your own. Even though you may be embarrassed or ashamed, it’s important that you consult with a trusted friend, preferably an adult. A trusted adult can provide you with support, make sure your needs are met, and intervene to help convince your parent to seek professional help.

It’s also important to speak with a counselor–whether it is a school counselor or mental health professional. Parental addiction impacts children in many devastating ways, so it’s vital that you have the support you need.

2. Remind yourself often that your parent’s addiction is not your fault. 

It may be helpful to remember the Three “C”s:

  1. I did not CAUSE my parent’s addiction
  2. I cannot CONTROL my parent’s addiction
  3. I cannot CURE my parent’s addiction

Children have a tendency to blame themselves for a parent’s substance abuse, but you are only responsible for your own behaviors. Addiction is a disease, and if someone is struggling with it, you are not to blame.

3. Get support–find a therapist or join a support network for family members of addicted people.

Addiction is an isolating disease, and it can feel isolating for loved ones, too. You may feel as though nobody understands what you are going through or that nobody can really help. Seeking support from family, friends, or a support group such as Al-Anon can help you cope in a healthy way.

4. Identify and name your emotions. Learn healthy ways to cope with them.

You may experience a range of painful emotions when trying to cope with an addicted parent, so it’s important that you can identify and cope with those emotions. Consider keeping a journal to write down your thoughts and feelings. Journaling is a healthy coping mechanism that can help you navigate thoughts and difficult situations more clearly.

5. Encourage your parent to get the treatment they need. 

Sometimes, coping means taking matters into your own hands. Enlist the support of family members or professional addiction specialists to plan an intervention.

You may be able to play an important role in getting your parent the treatment they need to overcome an addiction. Take steps to encourage your parent to begin treatment.

Convincing an Addicted Parent to Get Help

Whether you live with your parent or not, your parent’s addiction can present various challenges and emotions. The best option is for your addicted parent to get the treatment they require to overcome the addiction. Steps to get a parent to go to rehab include:

  1. Write: Think and write about what you see and what is worrying you. Putting it down in writing will help you communicate later on.
  2. Get professional help: Get help from an addiction counselor or professional interventionist who can support you throughout the process.
  3. Ask for help from family and friends: Talk to loved ones, friends, or trusted adults who are concerned about your parent’s addiction. 
  4. Plan an intervention: Seek help from a trained interventionist who can support you before, during, and after the intervention. Choose a safe, secure location and a time when your parent is least likely to be intoxicated. Invite other concerned family and friends to join the intervention. Tell your parent about your concerns. Make sure to focus on your care and support of them instead of your anger or frustration. State your boundaries and ask them to seek addiction treatment immediately. 
  5. Follow-through: Check-in with others involved in the intervention. If your parent accepts treatment, help them get started immediately. Maintain your boundaries and find ongoing support and effective self-care.

You cannot force your addicted parent to go to rehab, but you can start to create a healthier family environment that can support healing. 

Get Help Now

If you or someone you love requires addiction treatment, reach out to the caring Mandala Healing Center specialists today.