Addiction has been called the great equalizer because it affects people of all ages, genders, and income levels. Unfortunately, addiction also has a huge impact on families. When a parent drinks or uses drugs, it can have a devastating effect on their children.
Watching a parent battle drug or alcohol addiction can be very challenging. The best thing you can do is let them know you are concerned for their safety. If they are willing to get help, rehab centers like Vertava Health specialize in helping families heal from the pain of addiction.
Drugs, Alcohol, And Parenting
Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disorder. This means that people are powerless over their disease. People who abuse substances can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, or both. When a person abuses substances, they are at risk for many health hazards, including addiction and overdose.
People who suffer from addiction may physically or emotionally neglect their children. This means that kids who have an alcoholic or addicted parent may not get their needs met. Examples of this include not having enough food, supervision, or emotional nurturing.
In 2014, nearly 22 million Americans suffered from a substance use disorder. Sadly, many of the people battling addiction are parents of young children.
How Can I Tell If My Parent Is Addicted?
A person who is addicted may become solely focused on drugs or alcohol. They may display frightening behaviors, or act in a way that goes against their values. When they are intoxicated, your parent may say or do things that hurt you.
Parents who are addicted may act in a way that embarrasses you. You may fear for their safety, or be left for long periods of time, wondering if they are okay. Their disease may cause you to feel your needs and accomplishments are unimportant, or that you’re to blame for their addiction.
As hurtful as these feelings can be, try to remember that feelings are not facts. Kids who are raised in alcoholic environments deserve to be safe and well-cared for, just like everybody else.
If your parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they may show other signs, including:
- frequent or daily use of drugs or alcohol
- change in appearance, appearing ungroomed
- not meeting work, family, or personal responsibilities
- continuing to use the substance, regardless of physical or psychological harm
- driving or doing other risky activities while under the influence
- “blacking out” when drinking, or not remembering conversations or situations
- promising to cut back or stop using the substance
- telling stories that do not add up
Sometimes, drugs and alcohol cause people to become violent. If your parent or caregiver ever becomes physically violent or injures you or someone else, call 911 immediately.
What Causes Drug And Alcohol Addiction?
Addiction can be caused by several factors, just like other mental health conditions. A person’s environment can play a part, including their family’s beliefs and attitudes about drinking or drugs. Early exposure to substances can also increase a person’s risk of addiction.
Addiction also has a genetic component Some people are more likely to experience addictive behaviors, based on the traits they inherit from their parents. Regardless of how your parent’s addiction started, it is not your fault that they drink or use drugs.
How To Talk With Your Parent About Their Drug Or Alcohol Abuse
When a parent is battling an alcohol or drug addiction, they are often reluctant to talk about the problem. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their behavior. They may even secretly think they have a problem but are unsure how to seek help.
As their child, the best thing you can do is talk with your parent directly. Unless violence is a concern, consider sitting down with them one-on-one. Let them know you are worried about their well-being.
It may be tempting to confront your parent during an emotional moment, such as catching them in a lie. However, you may be more successful if you approach them in a calm, sober environment. Try to use “I-statements,” by saying things like, “I noticed you have been coming home very late, and it worries me” or “I am afraid for your safety when you drink and drive.”
As difficult as this may be, there is nothing you can do or say that will force your parent to change. However, sharing how their behavior is affecting you could be exactly what they need to hear.
People Who Can Help You To Talk To Your Parent About Drugs And Alcohol
If you are worried that your parent may have a negative reaction, it may be better to have this conversation with another person present. You may want to ask a family friend or counselor to be with you when you talk to your parent.
This type of conversation is sometimes called an intervention. During an intervention, family members or friends talk with their loved one about their concerns and present an opportunity to get treatment. Interventions should be heart-to-heart and can be quite emotional.
The person suffering from addiction may be in denial about their drug problem. They may be used to rationalizing their addictive behaviors and telling themselves they are “not that bad.” Denial may cause your parent to react in an angry or defensive manner. Whatever their reaction, you are not responsible for how they respond.
Whether you talk to your parent alone or with others, the overall goal is to let them know you are concerned. Share that addiction treatment is available. Hopefully, this heartfelt confrontation will motivate your parent to get the help they deserve.
Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
As damaging as addiction can be, this is a treatable disease. Vertava Health’ drug and alcohol treatment facilities offer customized services that help to guide families through this confusing time.
Our inpatient treatment centers help people stop using drugs and alcohol in a program called medical detox. We also provide individual, group, and family counseling. These therapies can help the whole family work through any difficult feelings they have, related to addiction.
If your parent is worried about treatment cost, let them know there are several ways to pay for treatment. Some rehab centers accept payment plans, and many others take public and private health insurance. The best way to reduce the cost of treatment is through the use of your health insurance benefits.
How To Support Your Parent During Treatment
When a parent enrolls in treatment, it can be very emotional for the whole family. You may feel a huge sense of relief, knowing they are in a safe and supportive environment. But for them, the journey of recovery is just beginning.
As your parent immerses themselves in the treatment process, consider learning more about addiction. Many treatment centers offer family sessions, where children and partners can learn about their loved one’s disease.
What To Do If Your Parent Refuses Treatment
If your parent denies they have a problem or refuses to get help, it is not your fault. Addiction is a brain disorder that causes people to say and do things they wouldn’t normally do.
Children should never have to worry about their own safety and well-being. However, when a parent is addicted, some kids feel they have to take care of themselves. If you are experiencing any type of neglect, such as a lack of food, safety, or supervision, you need to report it to your school or the police.
There are also community support groups for family members of people addicted to alcohol and drugs. Use the Internet to search for Alateen, Al-Anon, or Nar-Anon meetings in your area. These support groups are free of cost and are available in most towns throughout the U.S.
It is possible to recover from the pain of an addicted parent. To learn more about getting help for you and your family, reach out to an Vertava Health treatment specialist today.