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My Adult Child Has An Addiction. What Do I Do?

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The worst time of my life as a parent was finding out that my child was addicted to opiates; they had an addiction. It started with pill bottles going missing from the medicine cabinet and money being stolen out of my wallet. didn’t know that 75% of opioid prescription addictions start with individuals who don’t even have a prescription themselves! They get addicted using other people’s pills. Unfortunately, my eyes got opened to that fact with my son.

My Adult Child Has An Addiction. What Do I Do?

I also found out that this is an issue that hits home for many of us here in Ohio. In 2018, our state had one of the highest death rates (35.9 per 100,000 people) from drug overdoses. And what is the main drug involved in these deaths? Synthetic opioids.

In 2018, of the 3,764 overdose deaths in Ohio, fentanyl was involved in 73%. In the United States as a whole, opioids are involved in 70% of overdose deaths.

With my son, it then progressed to him becoming detached from his friends and fired from his job. I thought my son had hit rock bottom, but the reckless behavior continued.

I didn’t know how to respond or what to do. I had heard about the opioid crisis in Ohio, but I never thought it would impact me so close to home.

I watched the local news, I saw the dangers and the death rates in our state. But the hardest part about the whole situation is that my son is an adult. A young adult fresh out of Kent State University, but still, an adult.

I felt like my hands were tied behind my back. There was nothing I could do. It’s not like I could force him into rehab or give him an ultimatum. He didn’t even live with me anymore.

So, as a mother watching her adult son suffering from addiction, what can you do?

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Tips For Moms Of Adult Children Struggling With Addiction

  1. Understand What’s Happening: You can’t support what you don’t understand. Doing research can help you get clarity on the impact addiction has had on your child, you, and your family.You can also get insight into what may be causing or contributing to your child’s addiction. Having background knowledge will prepare you for the steps to follow.
  2. Stop The Blame Game: Your child is an adult who makes their own decisions, whether that is to continue on the path they are on or seek detox and treatment. Their addiction is not your fault (repeat this to yourself if necessary).Don’t ignore the issue either. That will make your child feel as though they don’t actually have a problem, which will enable their behavior.So what can you do? The good news is that you can support them in understanding their options and helping them through treatment. Go into a conversation with your child with research, solutions, and understanding.

    You can do this by looking into, reaching out, and comparing Ohio treatment centers or contacting a licensed professional. There is also a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) national helpline to get information and treatment options at 1-800-662-4357.

  3. Set Boundaries And Really Mean It: The last thing you want to do as a parent is to enable your adult child’s behavior. You do this when you’re taking care of them, giving them money to spend at their own discretion, fostering a “don’t ask, don’t tell”, no-questions-asked environment, and ignoring the addiction.All of this sends a clear message: they don’t need help or don’t stop using because you will be there to take care of them.If you are doing any of these things, you need to set boundaries to say that you no longer will be. Sit your child down and explain that you will not be doing things that enable them, and establish your house rules. Also, lay out the consequences of what will happen if they break the rules, and follow through if they do.

    Boundaries are hard to set, but they are well worth it. By sticking firm, you are doing what’s best for you and your child. They are no longer able to ignore their addiction while relying on you.

  4. Remember That Your Child Is An Adult: Your child needs to feel capable and independent. If you are saving them when things get bad, you are sending the message that they can’t handle life on their own.Don’t jump to pay their bills or solve their relationship problems. Don’t give them any money that could possibly be spent on drugs. Encourage financial and emotional independence altogether.
  5. Foster Open Communication: Whenever you have a discussion about addiction, come prepared. Point out their behaviors and how it impacts you without placing blame.At the same time, avoid judgment at all costs. The last thing you want to do in this conversation is drive them away, but you do want to express care and concern.Open, non-judgmental communication lets your child know that they can come to you and be honest. But don’t expect them to open up and admit all the details of their addiction right away. Trust and honest communication take time to build.
  6. Continue Offering Love And Support: Don’t let addiction define your child. Let them know that you love them unconditionally. It’s important to remember that their addiction is not them, and they are not their addiction. There is more to them than that, and it is something they can overcome.
  7. Don’t Forget About Yourself: You can’t help your child if you’re depleted. You can’t pour all of your time, energy, and love into your child without receiving some yourself. Don’t forget about things such as self-care and “you time.”Part of that can include getting support for the impacts that your child’s addiction has had on you. You can attend family support groups and treatment programs as part of your own healing.
  8. Encourage Treatment: Of course, the best thing you can do every step of the way is to encourage treatment. And when/if your child does get treatment, be there for them during the process, and celebrate their successes.Addressing the problem early before the addiction has a chance to cause negative consequences increases the chance of recovery.Finally, be ready with options for your child and have a clear plan in case they call you in the middle of the night wanting treatment (which is common). This eliminates the frustration and anxiety you might feel otherwise and allows you to act right away when your child is expressing interest in treatment.

    Even if these tips are hard, in the end, it will be well worth it to share in the joy of recovery with your child.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is enabling?

Enabling means that you are unintentionally preventing someone from feeling the impact of their decisions. It allows them to continue destructive behavior.

Can I force my adult child to go to rehab?

Your child is an adult and therefore it isn’t easy to force them into rehab, but it’s possible. However, you have to agree to pay for the treatment in Ohio. You can also meet them with compassion and set boundaries to help them realize their problems and be more open to treatment.

How can I help an adult child with an addiction?

Be non-judgmental while addressing the issue, do your research, and come to them with options and solutions for their addiction.

Vertava Health of Ohio is here to help you and your family through any situation. We have the evidence-based, individualized treatment programs needed to provide recovery for your child. Ready to get started or learn more? Call us at (888) 481-7821.