Growing up for a child can be a real challenge. But, having an addicted parent can appear particularly overwhelming. All those obstacles children have to face add more fuel to the fire, making them feel stuck in a vicious cycle. It could be their mom, uncle, aunt, dad, brother, or sister struggling with addiction.
The fact is, around 8.7 million children 17 or younger live in homes with a minimum of one parent having a substance use disorder in the last year. That means 1 in 8 children are struggling with parents with serious impairment caused by their drug or alcohol abuse.
In this guideline, children and teenagers can learn how to overcome their current situation in a smart and safe way. Including when is the right time to contact the best Christian rehab center and how to convince their parents to get their life back on track.
Even though addiction can be a very complicated problem to deal with, there are a couple of measures that can help you make the right choice. With proper precautions and expert help, you can go a long way. Here is all you need to know about parents and addiction.
- An addicted individual is not a bad person but a sick one. Addiction is an illness and requires treatment.
- Having someone addicted in your family is not your fault or responsibility.
- You are capable of using healthy ways to cope with the difficulties caused by the addicted parent.
- You are not the only one. Millions of children, just like you, are struggling with the same problem. But, professional help can get you and your family back on the right track.
Does Addiction Run in the Family?
Substance abuse affects about 50% of American families. It causes irreparable damage and has a serious impact on a child’s emotional and physical development. For drug or alcohol abusers, their addiction is a part of their daily life. This dependence is a disease that worsens over time.
Addicted parents have drastic changes in their normal behavior. They can become deceitful, lie, and live in denial. They continue their bad habits, despite the numerous consequences. The worse the addiction gets, the bigger the risk of them becoming violent and engaging in regular outbursts. Especially if they can’t get their hands on the next dose.
One of the main concerns children have is that addiction runs in the family. The truth is, children need a role model. It’s just a normal part of their development and growth. So, they often look and act like their role model, regardless of whether they want to accept that or not.
You know how your nose, mouth, and eyes look very much like your mother or father. That’s because there is a map in the body that you inherited from your parents before you were born. This map is called DNA and is the main reason for your genes. Genes have many important roles to play.
When it comes to addiction, it is not like you are guaranteed to become addicted if someone in your family abuses drugs or alcohol. It is their influence that can affect the way you think, act, and behave.
By watching your role model take part in addictive behaviors and actions, you have a higher chance of becoming addicted yourself. Genetics account for around 40-60% of a person’s risk of addiction.
Because of both environmental factors and genetics, kids of addicted parents are the most vulnerable group to abusing drugs or alcohol. Research indicates that a strong genetic component, mainly for the early onset of alcoholism, happens in males. A son of an alcoholic has a fourfold risk of turning to alcohol to cope with their problems. In these families, conflict is a common problem.
That’s why many children who grow up in such dangerous households continue their addiction throughout their lives. It creates a cycle that’s difficult to break. Particularly for those who think they have no way out.
But, don’t worry. There is a way for you to break that cycle and give your parents a fighting chance at regaining their health. The following tactics can help.
How To Help an Addicted Parent: Reversing the Roles
In a healthy household, the parent should be the main caregiver. They need to give their children emotional, physical, and financial support. They must have proper shelter and a comfortable environment for them to grow and develop.
Unfortunately, addiction makes that impossible. That’s why many children and adolescents take on the responsibility of becoming a caregiver. Some of these “duties” include cleaning up after the parent, finding a job, making food, getting groceries, the list goes on and on.
Clear signs you don’t have a healthy parent-child relationship because of addiction
- You must cancel plans and activities with friends to stay at home and take care of your parent/s.
- You feel regularly isolated from your peers.
- You often have to listen to your parent’s various dangerous experiences they had while being high or intoxicated.
- You agree to sleep in the same bed because they need your emotional support for anxiety and depression.
- You’ve taken the responsibility to distress the parent because they can’t keep their emotions under control as a result of their withdrawal.
Regardless of the scenario your parents put you through; you always have a very high level of maturity that you shouldn’t be ready for. That’s because you grew up too quickly. This can happen in children who live in such unhealthy environments.
But, there is only so much you can do. To take the next step, you must make sure that you are safe. So, it is best to ask for help. The 90-day treatment center for women can help you get all the assistance you need. If you have no idea how to get your parent to ask for treatment, take a look at the options below that can come in handy.
Best Options to Ask for Help
Finding outside help often seems overwhelming. Since addicted adults use manipulation and intimidation, they can quickly discourage their children from seeking help. If the child pushes them too often, the parents can become angry or agitated.
Especially if their child has “exposed” their secret of alcohol or drug abuse to a doctor, teacher, counselor, or a family friend. The reason for this fear lies in their inability to accept the responsibility of facing criminal charges and possibly losing custody of their children.
Experts estimate that 6% to 7% of youth run away from home. That’s about 1.5 million adolescents and children in the U.S. Many of these young people have been abused physically or emotionally. Some have been victims of an addicted parent.
But, running away will only expose you to more harm. Unless you seek help, your self-esteem will spiral out of control, and you are more likely to feel helpless, afraid, depressed, or anxious. To work on that self-confidence, you should get past your fears. Here are the most viable options to get help.
- Find a reliable person to confide in. – There should be at least one adult that you trust and respect. This person has always kept you safe and helped you overcome numerous challenges. It could be a grandmother, grandfather, teacher, uncle, or coach. Talk to them about what is happening in your life, and the things you are afraid might happen. Then ask that person if they would like to help.
- Make an emergency contact list. – Addiction can cause countless health complications, studies Although seizures happen infrequently when someone uses drugs for therapeutic purposes, they are a very common neurologic complication among those with illicit drug abuse. Then, there is the risk of overdose, heart attack, stroke, and even death. In case of a crisis, you need someone to call. Make a list of people or services you can phone, like emergency services, the best Christian rehab center, relatives, teachers, etc.
- Find a safe place during a dangerous situation. – Try to stay out of harm’s way as much as possible. Options like a relative’s home, library, center, or park can be used as a temporary break while you need a way for the stress at home to subside.
- Keep taking care of yourself. – What makes you happy? Do you love participating in different activities that can help you polish your skills? Then, keep doing what you are doing. If you are a talented painter, writer, photographer, or athlete, make sure you keep participating in these activities. So, that one day, you can put your skills to good use. For now, they can give you that boost in happiness and stress relief you need.
- Stay in contact with friends. – If something scary or embarrassing happens at home, don’t try to isolate yourself and keep things from others. The longer you bottle these feelings, the harder it gets to cope with them. That’s why it would be in your best interest to have someone to talk to. You can use that bond you form to feel at ease.
- Don’t blame yourself. – Remember, your parent’s choices are not your fault. You can’t control their actions and behaviors. You can’t get rid of their addiction. It is something they have to do on their own. What you can do is inspire them to reach out for professional help. A 90-day treatment center for women always has the door open for those who want to beat their addiction and start living a healthier life.
Convincing the Parent to Get Addiction Treatment
Getting a patient with addiction to get help is hard. But, convincing a parent is even harder. Parents are not used to accepting advice from their children. They are the ones who feel in charge. However, a child can be an impactful factor that can save their lives. Regardless of your age, you can use multiple tactics to get the parent to seek help. These options below can help.
- Show Some Love and Understanding
Drug or alcohol addiction can feel isolating. Those who turn to drug abuse do it to escape their reality. It is a type of coping mechanism that helps them overcome a certain overwhelming situation. It is not uncommon for addicts to drive themselves into isolation. They are often afraid or embarrassed by how other people will look at them.
Their child is the best chance at recovery. When you want to help, your parents get their lives back together, start by telling them that you love and care deeply about them. Make sure they know they are not alone. And when they seek help, you will be the one who will support them.
That doesn’t mean you will let them continue their addiction or take advantage of you. It means that you want to help them get through recovery. Overcoming any form of addiction can be a highly complex challenge. It is very uncomfortable and debilitating. But, when you have support, love, and care waiting for you at home, you are more eager to dedicate yourself to that recovery.
- Make a List of the Options They Could Take
Parents struggling with addiction find it difficult to see a way out. Their substance misuse has led to changes in their brain, preventing them from stopping the addiction on their own. This loss of control and power makes them lose hope for recovery.
A child can reignite that hope. If your parent is in a stable emotional state, you can mention that fulfilling a drug addiction is costing them thousands of dollars every year. Buying one drink or one dose may seem affordable, but the more they buy, the more the prices keep piling up, eventually forcing them into debt.
Let them know there are support centers, like the best Christian rehab center. They can get access to proper therapy and medications tailored to their needs. Explain to them that thousands of addicts recover every year. They too, can become a part of this community and learn to overcome their condition.
To make that list, you can find schedules of support groups in your local area. Some are even available online. You can also contact centers, like the 90-day treatment center for women. Whatever you choose to use, let your parent know that it’s not impossible. These resources are at their disposal and can help them achieve a successful recovery.
- Talk About Your Emotions and Fears
Sometimes, parents don’t realize the impact their addiction can have on their loved ones. So, it makes sense to be more open and give them insight into what you are thinking and feeling. By expressing your emotions, your parent can realize how you’ve been affected.
The idea is not to take your parent on a guilt trip but to inspire them to understand their actions and the consequences of their addictive behavior. In a huge number of situations, parents care more about their children than anything else. Realizing how much pain their actions have brought can be an eye-opener. This is a solid stepping stone to a successful recovery.
- Think About Getting a Formal Intervention
Children can’t always do everything by themselves. Sometimes they need help. The problem with addiction is that those affected tend to act emotionally and compulsively. Due to the unpredictable behavior, it can make it difficult to get them to listen.
Having a certified interventionist can help. These are experts who know how to overcome every situation and inspire the patient to seek help. They are rational, calm, decisive, and reliable people with years of experience.
- Have a Safe Home Ready for When They Get Back
The physical environment can impact mental and physical health. But it could also be a source of addiction triggers. While the parent is still in recovery, it is important to remove clutter or products that may stimulate their cravings.
By returning to a safe environment, their mood and capacity to stick to the post-recovery process can become better. Having nutritious foods and healthy snacks can also come in handy. So, what might feel like a chore, can, in fact, aid their recovery.
Any Personalities and Traits Children Should Be Aware Of?
Children living with drug- or alcohol-dependent parents are regularly confronted with shame, anger, denial, and stress. The irrational and unpredictable situation can become emotionally and physically unsafe.
Alcohol and drugs are a dangerous combination. Almost two-thirds of addicts mix alcohol with drugs. In fact, alcohol is such a common intoxicant that people depend on it to amplify the drug’s effect. But, this type of abuse can cause severe bodily harm and sometimes life-threatening side effects.
According to the National Institute of Justice, when people combine these substances, the chemicals can severely impair their sense of judgment. Experts analyzed victims of domestic violence in Memphis, Tennessee, to see how drug and alcohol abuse impacted their way of life.
Based on the reports, 78% of the assailants were male, and 72% of victims female. Of the 20 male victims, 9 of them were the sons of a female victim who tried to help their mothers. The problem with addiction is that violence in the home can quickly get out of control.
Violence triggered by substance abuse affects the entire family unit. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the abuse will end after the parent stops their drug intake. The likelihood of experiencing emotional or physical abuse can remain.
To avoid problems like these, people can take actions, such as:
- Getting counseling from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist.
- Taking part in a wellness program when available.
- Practicing stress management techniques, for example, meditation, moderate physical activity, yoga, developing hobbies, or different therapies.
- Participating in a support group specifically tailored to your needs. Like the Adult Children of Alcoholics. This is a world service organization designed to help those who grew up in dysfunctional homes.
How to Deal With the Social Stigma of Having an Addicted Parent?
Before a parent becomes willing to enroll in the best Christian rehab center, they will need to overcome the stigma that surrounds them. Stigma is the third biggest reason people decide not to get treatment, followed by denial and cost.
With health issues like addiction, HIV, cancer, and countless mental illnesses, the stigma can be a real problem. Parents hate feeling weak in front of their children. When their addiction is at its peak, they may feel pathetic because they couldn’t stop it. Instead, they let it get this far.
In most of these cases, addicted individuals have grown up with the thought that addiction is a moral issue. All those anti-drug campaigns have taught them that only criminals get addicted to alcohol and drugs.
So, they shun themselves and are reluctant to rejoin the community or neighborhood. To beat the stigma, you should let your parent know that you don’t think they are immoral, weak, or pathetic. They are sick because alcohol and drug addiction is a disease.
Like any other sickness out there, it requires treatment. The sooner they get it, the better. Instead of pressuring them, you can use words and actions to show that you are not ashamed of who they are. This will give them reassurance that getting help is the right thing to do.
How to Cover the Expenses?
Now that you finally got your parent to agree to treatment, the first question that comes to mind is, “how am I going to pay for all the expenses”? The cost of addiction treatment varies from person to person. It is often determined by the level of care necessary.
Residential programs provide the utmost care and cost more. Outpatient units might not have the necessary support for continuous recovery, but they do cost less. Obtaining health insurance is the go-to choice for covering some of these expenses. But, even if you don’t have that, you can still have a plethora of choices for covering some of the costs.
When it comes to insurance, the health plans cover about a portion of the treatment. Although they won’t pay for the entire program, they do provide coverage to ease the stress. This is mainly used among patients who need residential treatment. It makes the whole experience a lot more bearable and easier on the wallet.
Browse the various insurance providers in your local area and choose the one that includes inpatient rehab and detoxification. Even if money is tight and you can’t afford insurance, you mustn’t let the cost weigh you down.
In the United States, you can get free or low-cost addiction treatment options without insurance. Your parent must be eligible to get them, meaning that they don’t have the means to support their family or afford treatment.
Most states have funding for rehab designed for those without income or insurance. If the parent meets all the requirements and criteria of the program they want to enroll in, they can be eligible for free treatment.
If free treatment is not at your disposal, options like fundraising, scholarships, loans, and financial support from family and friends can help. Although unpredictable and not always reliable, fundraising can help raise some money for rehab expenses. The real setback is that you can’t know how much or how little you are going to get.
Scholarships are another popular method. Certain programs in the U.S. offer scholarships. But, you have to contact them individually to know which one would be available for you. Loans, on the other hand, are a quick way of procuring finances. But, the amount acquired must be paid back with interest.
Lastly comes the support from family and friends. Getting them to help your parent could be worth a shot. Depending on your parent’s history of abuse, some family members may be eager to lend a hand. But, their support is often influenced based on your parent’s actions and behaviors. So, it is another financial help that can be difficult to control.
Recovery for Adults and Children Post Addiction
Addiction typically emerges from a dysfunctional family unit. To put an end to the disease, it is important to help the entire family recover after the addiction so that both the children and parents can live healthy life.
For a child of an addicted parent, regardless of age, their recovery starts by restoring their self-esteem, learning, motivation, and coping. For a child who has spent a lot of time in a dysfunctional unit, it can be incredibly difficult to build trust with peers and other family members. That’s where therapy can address all of these issues.
Both adults and children need individualized therapy to amplify their motivation, confidence, and coping tactics. Now that the adult is trying to maintain a sober living, working on their self-esteem will become an invaluable strategy.
The same thing can be said with peer support groups. To ensure consistent results, these support groups will provide a safe and supportive environment where the former addicted parents can share their life stories and strengthen their sobriety based on other people’s experiences.
Family therapy is another practical approach. Here, both the children and the parents can engage in communication and work their way through overcoming the hurdles that were left from the addiction.
Do have in mind, however, that post-addiction recovery is a lengthy process. But, perhaps the most important one. Now that you and your parent are taking the time to adjust to a healthy environment, you should also invest in rebuilding your relationship.
By spending such a long time in an unsafe and anger-fueled environment, teenagers and children will have trouble trusting their parents. This is a normal outcome. When you offer each other enough time and open communication, you can counteract that mistrust and negativity. Of course, this is not something that can be achieved overnight and often requires professional help.
A child’s mental state may start to decline depending on the amount of stress they were exposed to. But, with thorough treatment, evaluation, and assessment, they can overcome their depression, anxiety, and other disorders. That’s why therapies for teens, children, and adults will prove useful. When you put yourself and those around you in a healthy position to grow, you can finally work on your family as a whole.
Addiction is a serious physical and psychological inability to stop taking specific dangerous substances. It can lead to physical and emotional harm. It can tear families and relationships apart. For a child, this condition can have some immeasurable consequences. It can damage their life, self-control, confidence, motivation, and perseverance.
Getting a parent to admit they need help can be a very intimidating process. Unfortunately, for some children, addressing the addiction issue seems to them like some form of betrayal. Children think they betrayed their parent’s trust by making them get treatment.
When dealing with a parent who just doesn’t want to get treatment, addiction can seem terrifying. The longer it remains unmanaged, the worse it can get. Eventually, it will put their lives in danger. But, with the right approach, it is possible to help the parent regain their senses and work on their health.
However, kids must be extra careful. Addiction distorts the parent’s sense of reality. Once the effects kick in, the parent can become aggressive and violent. That’s why it is very important for a child to know their limits and ask for help. The experts from the 90-day treatment center for women can help you overcome any difficulty. With the tips and options listed here, you will have an easier time dealing with such a complex situation.
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction as well as the pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center’s status at the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content creation. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.