Seeing your child in pain is agonizing, and all you want to do is help them. This is true regardless of their age.
When you become a parent, you know you’re signing up to not only have your own life to take care of but also the life of another living being. It’s a sacrifice we all make as parents.
As a parent, you quickly learn your decisions don’t only affect you, they affect your child as well. Sometimes those decisions breed great things for our children, and sometimes they don’t —- such is the way of parenting.
It’s understood, though, that while we have to accept that our children will watch most of our decisions with a close eye, we cannot have full control over who they are and what they become. They still make plenty of decisions on their own.
Examples of these are the decisions our children make about drug and alcohol use. Often they’re met with these decisions at a young age, and we put our faith in them to make the decision to continue healthy living. Sometimes they don’t make that decision, though.
In most cases, that decision will have very little effect on where their life leads. For some, though, the decision leads to a life of dependency and addiction.
As parents, it comes back on us when our child becomes addicted to a substance. We may feel we’re responsible for them and their safety, regardless of their age.
Even when it feels like we’ve given them all of the chances we possibly can, we still want to help. You aren’t alone, and soon you will read the extent of how not alone you are in this challenge your family faces.
The Range of Addiction in the United States
In America, there are more than 20 million people addicted to some form of substance and in need of treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Out of those 20.8 million, only roughly 10% seek and receive the help they need.
If you have an adult child addicted to drugs or alcohol, you likely feel helpless and hopeless. You may even feel as if you have no options available to you.
The list below has been compiled to help you, regardless of the stage of addiction your adult child may be in.
Tip #1: Learn As Much As You Can About Addiction
When your child had a cough or a cut growing up, did you not do your best to find out how to help them?
Knowledge is power. It’s a saying we all have heard, and it’s why we would rush to learn when our children were hurt growing up.
The biggest tip we can possibly give you is: Try to understand as much as possible about what someone is experiencing with addiction.
You may be living in the same house as someone with an addiction and dealing with the effects of it every day. You see what they go through on a daily basis, but do you truly understand addiction?
Hopefully, you do have a firm grasp on addiction, and this is a tip you can check off of the list. If you don’t have a basic understanding of addiction and how it works and what it does to a person, then you’re part of the majority, unfortunately.
A long history of fear-based education about addiction has led a lot of people to feel shame, guilt, or fear over a family member battling addiction.
Don’t let that deter you from trying to help.
A big hurdle can be jumped with a strong sense of what your child is going through. How many times have you gotten into screaming fights that end in days of not seeing your child or tears all around?
With a better understanding gained through research and professional guidance, you can potentially avoid those future arguments.
What you’re doing right now is accomplishing the first tip. You’re reading and learning about how to help your child.
Addiction is very complex. It has a way of driving family apart, from the closest of relationships to distant ones. Navigating addiction is made easier with knowledge.
Tip #2: Understand You Can’t Undo or Redo
Parenting isn’t a perfected field of study for anyone. Regardless of what anyone thinks, no parent is 100% perfect.
Everyone makes mistakes now and then, and everyone can always do a better job in one way or another. Don’t be hard on yourself or focus on instances that you believe led to your child’s addiction. You cannot undo or redo things in the past.
Keep your eyes on the future for yourself and your child.
Once your child becomes an adult, there is no way to go back and undo or redo anything from their adolescent days. Instead, you simply need to move forward and look for solutions to remedy the situation that you have in front of you right now.
This is easier said than done, but it’s a crucial tip for helping your adult child(ren) battling addiction.
Tip #3: Acknowledge The Fact That Your Child Is Now an Adult
This one is a bit obvious, but you can easily forget it when you see your child in trouble or hurting.
The reality is that your child is an adult now, and he or she has control over their own life and the decisions they make. You cannot hold yourself accountable for every step or misstep they take.
In the same breath, it’s important to tell you to not let your child blame you for their past bad decisions, their current situation, or future decisions they will make. It’s not fair to you.
If you’re putting in work to help your child and they’re continuing to choose drugs or alcohol over help, they have no basis to blame you. You know in your heart whether you’re doing enough.
We live in a country where the decision to get help for alcohol or drug use is on the person with the substance use disorder. You cannot make them go to treatment if they refuse.
The best you can do is encourage the decision to go, and leave the rest up to them.
Again, he or she is an adult.
Tip #4: Present Your Child With Available Treatment Options
Just as mentioned in Tip 3, it’s your job to encourage your child to get help. So when you do that, it’s best for you to know what can be provided to them.
Presenting your child with available treatment options in a realistic manner will have an impact on them regardless of whether they make the decision to go right at the first mention.
We know you’re likely feeling a range of emotions like concern or anger about their addiction. When bringing up treatment, it’s best to not show so much of those emotions. Confronting your child with anger may only widen the gap of bitterness between you.
Discussing treatment with your child in a calm, practical, and realistic way is the safest and commonly most effective approach.
Your child may be so caught up in the grasp of their addiction they don’t understand the very first step of seeking help. The thought of getting high or drunk again might bleed into all of their daily decisions.
This is not saying your child doesn’t know they need to make a change. It’s simply stating that even when they know change is needed, they might not know where to begin.
Be prepared to talk with them when the time comes. Have treatment options printed out and available for them to see and hear about.
Be ready to answer as many questions as possible.
Also be ready for rejection. It’s possible they will reject all of your work. If they do, it’s best to continue hiding your anger or frustration.
Regardless of how your conversations go, don’t blame yourself.
Tip #5: Love Your Child With Everything You Have
It’s hard to put into words the feeling you get when you become a parent. The love and excitement and joy you feel when they say their first word or walk their first step never really goes away as you watch them grow all the way into a young adult.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember those joyous occasions, though, when you watch addiction control most of your child’s life.
There is nothing wrong with becoming angry with your child. In all likelihood, the battle they’re facing has led to many negative consequences in your own life.
Sometimes you face financial consequences. Sometimes you simply cannot help but be taken aback by their lack of honesty.
Regardless, you must remember that your child and their addiction are not the same thing.
Turn the negative energy you feel about your child into passionate hate for the addiction that’s controlling their life. Make it the fuel for your fire to end their addiction and bring back the man or woman you once knew.
Always keep in mind, though, that showing your child unconditional love doesn’t mean enabling their addiction. They must still be held accountable for their addictive behaviors.
Tip #6: Don’t Forget to Love Yourself
The final tip is incredibly important as it encompasses a lot of what we’ve already gone over.
You should not be bearing the entire weight of your child’s addiction to the point that you are unhappy in your own life. You can only do so much.
Take some time to appreciate what you’ve done and continue to do for them even when they’re turning it down.
Your life changes in an instant when your child first comes into your life, and that never ends no matter what age your child is. However, when your child grows out of that adolescent age and becomes an adult, your roles and responsibilities lessen and evolve.
Loving yourself essentially means you’re drawing your boundaries, accepting your limits, and keeping yourself healthy in a difficult situation.
Your Adult Child Can Still Get Help to Beat Addiction
Don’t lose hope.
It’s so easy to give up after dozens of repeated attempts to help, but if you’re able to follow the six tips above, you’re doing everything in your power to help your child.
Things change when your child becomes an adult. Roles change, personalities change, and overall relationships change.
You are not responsible for everything your adult child does, but you can still change their future.
Looping back to Tip 4 from earlier, take your time and be ready for the day to come when the answer to your request that they seek treatment turns from a sharp “no” into a “maybe” or even a “yes.”
There are hundreds of treatment options out there for each type of addiction a person can be facing.
In the end, nobody knows a person quite like their parents do. Take what you know about their addiction and them and turn that into your base for searching out treatment options for them.
Call Shadow Mountain Recovery Today
If you would like more information on helping your son or daughter battle his or her addiction, or if your child is ready to get the treatment he or she needs, contact us at Shadow Mountain Recovery.
We offer treatment for substance use that is individualized for each person who enters our doors.
We are always ready to take your calls and hear from you about your situation. There is hope for your child. Call today at 800-203-8249.