How to Help Your Parent Get into Addiction Treatment

If you have a parent with an addiction, you might feel different emotions and not know how to cope. Children of people with addictions may have had to take on more responsibilities at a young age, feel confused or angry about seeing their parent change when they’re under the influence, and can suffer from distressing family issues at home.

This page will discuss how to help a parent with addiction get treatment.

How to Know If Your Parent is Struggling with Addiction

Addiction—or substance use disorder (SUD)—is a chronic, relapsing condition that occurs when a person compulsively uses drugs or alcohol despite the negative consequences.1

Only a medical professional can diagnose SUD. However, there are many behavioral signs that may indicate addiction. Knowing these signs may help you intervene quickly and help your parent get the addiction treatment they need.

Signs Your Parent May be Addicted to Alcohol or Drugs

The criteria that doctors use to diagnose SUD comes from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

The criteria for SUD include:2

  • Using the substance more frequently or in higher amounts than they originally intended.
  • Saying they want to cut down or stop substance use but being unable to do so.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of a substance.
  • Experiencing cravings, or an intense desire to use the substance.
  • Being unable to take care of their responsibilities at work, home, or school because of substance use.
  • Continuing to use the substance even though they have developed social or interpersonal problems that are caused or worsened by drugs or alcohol.
  • Giving up activities they once enjoyed in order to use the substance.
  • Using drugs or alcohol in situations where it is dangerous to do so (such as while driving or operating machinery).
  • Continuing to use the substance even though they have a physical or mental health condition that is probably caused or worsened by substance use.
  • Building tolerance, or needing to use more of the substance to achieve previous effects.
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the substance.

Fortunately, SUD is a treatable condition.2 If your parent has an addiction, it’s not too late for them to get help.

How to Talk to Your Parent About Their Addiction

Your parent’s recovery doesn’t depend on you, but you can still play a crucial role in helping your parent with drug addiction.1 Showing love and support could potentially encourage your parent to seek help.

Mental health and addiction are sensitive topics. When you broach the topic of substance use with your parent, consider:3,4

  • Choosing a good time and place. Pick a time when your parent is sober and not distracted with other tasks.
  • Expressing your concerns directly, but in an attentive and non-judgmental way. For example, “I notice that you’re drinking a lot and I am worried about you.”
  • Avoiding confrontational interventions; there’s no evidence to support their benefits, and they can even backfire.
  • Encouraging your parent to speak to a medical professional. Often, people respond better to the advice and recommendations of a neutral expert, as opposed to a family member that they may feel judged by.
  • Listening to their feelings and concerns if they want to share them.
  • Being patient. It can take time for your parent to admit to having a problem or to be ready to fully hear what you have to say.
  • Let them know that you are willing to help them research treatment centers.

Watch our entire series on “How to Talk to a Family Member with Addiction.”

When to Seek Professional Help for a Parent with Addiction

If you’ve seen the signs and your parent is willing to get help, it may be time for you to take action to help them. Remember, however, that you can’t force an adult to seek treatment; if they’re not yet ready, you can return to the conversation at a later time.

If you rely on your parents for shelter, childcare, or financial support, consider different steps, such as:5,6,7,8

  • Finding a safe place to go to when you need a break, such as a friend or family member’s house. If you are a minor, consider speaking to a guidance counselor, school social worker, or other trusted adult about other steps you can take.
  • Looking into community or local programs that may offer shelter, childcare, case management, or other forms of assistance.
  • Reaching out to community or substance abuse programs designed for the elderly if your parent is 65 or older.
  • Researching whether you might be eligible for family disability benefits through your parent’s employer (if you are under 18 or a full-time high-school student aged 18-19). You can also help your parent determine if they might be eligible for social security by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting the Social Security Administration’s website on how to help someone else apply for disability.

Finding the Right Addiction Treatment Facility for your Parent

When helping your parent get addiction treatment, look for treatment facilities that:9,10

  • Personalize their care to patient’s unique needs and take into account their medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.
  • Provide evidence-based approaches that are backed by scientific research.
  • Provide more than just detox. While detox is a necessary first step for many people, detox alone is seldom enough to help someone remain in long-term recovery.
  • Accept your parent’s health insurance if they are insured. Use our confidential online form to verify your insurance and see if Desert Hope treatment facility accepts your parent’s insurance.

How to Get My Parent into Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Call to speak to one of our caring admissions navigators about starting addiction treatment at Desert Hope Treatment Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. After ascertaining important information about your parent’s substance use, medical concerns, and social situation, specialists will design a customized plan that’s right for their needs.

You can also research other treatment centers online using the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) directory website.

What to Expect When Your Parent is in Addiction Treatment

Knowing what to expect when your parent enters treatment can ease your apprehensions and fears.

Treatment at Desert Hope consists of various types of addiction treatment, including detox, inpatient rehab, and various forms of outpatient treatment.

Many people begin their recovery with detox, which helps them stop using a substance and become medically stable so they can continue with the recovery process.12 Depending on their needs, they might then transition to an inpatient rehab, which means they live onsite for the duration of treatment, or an outpatient rehab, which means they’ll live at home but travel to a facility for treatment.1

During treatment, your parent will receive various types of therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing to change the thought and behavioral patterns that contribute to their substance use.9 They may also receive medication to help them through withdrawal and in their ongoing recovery, if appropriate for their needs.14

The duration of addiction treatment will depend on your parent’s unique situation. Desert Hope’s aftercare program facilitates former patients’ entry into community programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and enables them to remain connected with case managers and fellow alumni.

Taking Care of Yourself: Healing from Your Loved One’s Addiction

Helping a family member with addiction can be challenging. When your parent is struggling with addiction, it can be a struggle for you, too. It’s important to take care of yourself and attend to your needs. Some of the ways you might do this can include:1

  • Seeking individual therapy to talk about your feelings and obtain support.
  • Spending time with friends and loved ones.
  • Engaging in healthy, positive activities that you enjoy.
  • Maintaining healthy boundaries. You have a right to set limits and let your parent know that you don’t want to be around them when they are using drugs or alcohol.
  • Attending support group meetings designed for children of people with addictions, such as Alateen, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Narateen, or SMART Recovery for Friends and Family.

Remember that it’s not selfish to take care of your needs; doing so may help you better cope with helping a loved one with addiction.

No matter how things might seem right now, there is always hope. Even people with severe addictions can benefit from some form of treatment.16 If you have parents facing addiction and want to know more about helping your parent get into rehab, please call today.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Desert Hope is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is easily accessible from Henderson.
Take your next step toward recovery:
✔ learn more about our addiction treatment programs.
✔ see how popular insurance providers such as Humana or Carelon offer coverage for rehab.
view photos of our facility.