The Effects of Addiction on Fathers
Addiction is often called a family disease because when a child suffers from addiction, their parents suffer too. If your child is an addict, you know just how detrimental the impact of addiction on dads can be.
Having an addicted child can often make fathers feel guilty or angry because they could not protect their child or are frustrated with their child’s behavior. Many children struggling with substance abuse will also lie to their dad to try to cover their tracks. Over time, this can lead to broken trust and lost respect. In some cases, the child may also distance themselves from their father because they too feel guilty or ashamed about their addiction. This behavior can create an emotional distance between the father and child that is hard to overcome.
Not only are dads taken along for the roller coaster ride of emotions that accompanies addiction, but also their lives may be impacted in a variety of other ways. Addicted children may steal money from their dads to buy drugs or alcohol. Because people struggling with addiction may not be able to hold down a job, many dads feel financially responsible and will continue to pay their child’s rent, legal fees, or other expenses. Having an addicted child can also cause a strain in your marriage as you and your partner struggle to cope in different ways. In some cases, this could even lead to divorce.
How to Cope with An Addicted Child As a Dad
As a father, you want to be there for your child in good times and bad, but when they are struggling with addiction, you may feel lost and not know what to do.
Although you may feel like you need to protect them, the best thing you can do for your addicted child is to stop enabling them. This may mean no longer paying their rent, not covering up their mistakes, or even kicking them out of the house. When you set boundaries and follow-through, your son or daughter will be forced to face the consequences of their addiction and may become more motivated to get sober as a result.
While it can be challenging as a father to stop thinking about your addicted son or daughter, you need to also take care of yourself. To start, you need to remember that they have their own life and no matter how hard you may try, you cannot control them. You also need to stop blaming yourself for your child’s addiction. Taking care of an addicted child can also cause you to neglect to take care of your physical and mental health. Take time to destress, exercise, and relax. When your needs are met, you become a better dad, husband, partner, and friend.
Because being the father of an addicted child can sometimes make you feel alone, it can be beneficial to join a support group as well. There are groups specifically for family members of people struggling with addiction that can provide helpful resources for coping as well as hope.
Helping Your Child in Recovery As a Father
If your child does decide to get substance abuse treatment, you should be there to support them. Early recovery can be a trying time, and your child needs all the support they can get to be successful long-term. Offer to take your child to recovery meetings, try new hobbies with your child, or start exercising together to help them stick to their healthy routine. As their dad, you can be one of their top advocates during recovery and set an example for the rest of the family.
Another way to not only help your child’s recovery journey but also improve your relationship with them could be with family addiction counseling. This type of therapy focuses on helping the family heal as a whole and rebuild trust. Through family therapy, you can gain a fresh perspective on addiction and how to move forward.
Being the dad of a child battling addiction is tough, but we want to be there for you. Contact us today at Vertava Health to see how we may be able to help your child get their life back on track. We are here to listen, and everything you say is confidential.