Helping Your Adult Child With Alcohol and Drug Addiction
Knowing how to help your adult son or daughter with addiction is challenging. Many parents find themselves feeling a range of emotions, including shame, self-blame, and frustration while dealing with the difficulties of seeing their adult child struggle. Although you cannot force your adult child to get treatment, you can provide support in a way that encourages them to get help.
This article will help explain the signs of addiction in your adult child, how to motivate your child to get treatment, and how to help yourself cope.
How to Know if Your Adult Child Is Struggling with Alcohol or Drug Addiction
If your adult child is dealing with addiction, you may notice changes in their mood, personality, and behavior. Signs of an addiction include:1
- Unexplained anxiety and paranoia.
- Sudden mood swings.
- Anger outbursts.
- Spending time with different friends.
- Dropping out of school, not attending work, or getting fired.
- Changes in eating habits or weight.
- Sleeping more or less than usual.
- Experiencing legal or financial problems.
- Lying or being secretive.
Substance use disorder is a medical term used by professionals to diagnose addiction. It is a chronic condition where a person continues to compulsively use drugs or alcohol even though this misuse has negative effects on their life.2 The criteria used to diagnose a substance use disorder include:
- Using more of a substance or taking a substance for longer than planned.
- Unsuccessful efforts in the past to cut down or quit.
- Spending large amounts of time using or recovering from a substance.
- Using a substance in situations that are dangerous.
- Continuing to use a substance even though it contributes to health problems.
- Continuing to use a substance even though it causes conflict in relationships.
- Giving up activities and hobbies that were once enjoyable because of substance use.
- Failing to keep up with roles and responsibilities because of substance use.
- Requiring more of a substance to feel the same effects over time.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not taking the substance.
Only a professional can diagnose substance use disorder, but if your child shows the signs above, then there is a good chance that they could benefit from professional treatment.
If your adult child seems to be struggling with managing their drug or alcohol use and putting substances before other important things, like family and work, then there are steps you can take to help them.
How to Help Your Adult Child With Substance Use Disorder
As a parent, there are ways that you can help your adult child with their substance use disorder. You may be able to assist them in scheduling or going to the doctor or therapy appointments and offering to attend support groups together. In most cases, your child will need professional help to overcome their addiction.
Watch our entire series on “How to Talk to a Family Member with Addiction.”
Enabling vs Supporting Your Adult Child With Addiction
As a parent, you are probably wondering how to help your son or daughter with addiction without enabling them. Enabling is any action that protects your child from facing the negative consequences of their substance use.5 Supporting, on the other hand, involves helping your child while holding them accountable and setting healthy boundaries.
Examples of enabling your child include:
- Buying drugs or alcohol for them.
- Giving them money for drugs and alcohol.
- Making excuses for their behavior.
- Lying on their behalf.
- Bailing them out of jail.
Enabling your child can reduce their motivation to change, while supporting them may encourage them toward change.6
Examples of supporting your child include:
- Expressing concern in a compassionate matter.
- Setting boundaries, like refusing to let them use your car while drunk.
- Encouraging, but not forcing, them to get help.
- Abstaining from drugs and alcohol in front of your child.
- Helping them find or get into an addiction treatment program.
How to Get Your Adult Child Into Addiction Treatment
Even though you may be very concerned about your child’s substance use, you cannot usually force them into treatment. Instead, your adult child must agree to go to treatment.
The most effective way to get your child into rehab treatment is to gently encourage them. Actions you can take that may help with getting your child into rehab include:
- Offering to help them research drug and alcohol treatment programs and tour facilities.
- Setting up transportation.
- Explaining the admissions and treatment process.
- Offering to help pay for rehab or assist them in using their insurance coverage.
- Participating in family therapy with them.
- Medical detox is often the first step in treatment. Certain substances like alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines cause withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable and dangerous.7 Detox helps a person safely rid their body of these substances. During detox, medical professionals will monitor withdrawal symptoms and prescribe medications to reduce discomfort. Short-term drug detox typically takes 5 to 10 days to complete, at which point a person is ready to transition to the next level of care that is right for them.
- Inpatient addiction treatment includes 24-hour support for people who are in early recovery. A typical day in inpatient treatment involves groups, therapy sessions, and the opportunity to participate in positive sober activities. Desert Hope offers different lengths of stay depending upon a person’s needs, including a month-long rehab program and a 2-3 month rehab program.
- Outpatient treatment allows a person to attend group counseling and therapy sessions while living at home or in a sober living facility. It is a good option for people who have completed inpatient treatment but need ongoing support, as well as for people whose education or career schedule keeps them from entering a residential treatment program.
- Sober living. After rehab, many people benefit from the continued support of a sober network afforded by sober-living homes. Resolutions Las Vegas provides comfortable lodging with many amenities, a continued treatment curriculum, transportation to and from outpatient treatment, and more.
To start the admissions process for your adult child at Desert Hope Treatment Center, call . An admissions navigator will speak with you and your child about the program, payment options, and assist in customizing a treatment plan. They will also help your child arrange transportation to the facility.
Our Las Vegas facility is in-network with many different insurance plans. Complete our secure to learn more about whether we are in-network with your insurance and how much treatment will cost.
Coping With Your Adult Child’s Addiction
Taking care of yourself is important when you are helping a loved one with addiction. Staying healthy and taking time for yourself not only benefits you but also helps you support your child.
Ways you can take care of yourself include:
- Attending your own therapy.
- Going to a support group for family members like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.
- Practicing self-compassion and remembering that you are not to blame.
- Finding positive outlets for stress, like meditation and exercise.
- Taking care of your physical health by getting enough sleep and eating well.
- Abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
Addiction is a chronic condition, but people can recover.2 Knowing how to help your adult child with addiction can support their healing. If your child is ready to understand and manage their addiction with evidence-based treatment, call today.
Admissions navigators are available 24/7 to provide information about treatment and answer any questions you may have. Help your child start their recovery at Desert Hope Treatment Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.