Getting an Addicted Parent Help
Getting an addiction parent help with their substance use disorder can be difficult. This is particularly true because it is parents who try to help their addicted children. However, you might have found yourself in a situation where you need to confront your parents about their drug and alcohol use. In such a situation, you would typically have to find clever ways to talk to them into an addiction treatment program.
Understanding Parental Addiction
In many cases, parental addiction would start before or during your childhood. However, there are also some situations in which your parents would develop a substance use disorder later on in your life.
This is not entirely surprising especially when you consider the difficulties that they might have gone through trying to raise you and your siblings. These difficulties include but are not always limited to:
- Children growing up and moving out of the family home
- Experiencing physical pain as a result of age
- Experiencing stressful moments
- Giving up their job
- Having a partner becoming ill or losing their life
- Losing friends
- Loss of mobility
- Suffering from loneliness
Although there are many reasons why parents turn to alcohol and drugs, one thing is clear: the physical and psychological problems linked to addiction often become exacerbated when your parents start growing older.
Even though substance abuse and addiction are harmful irrespective of the age of addict, the impact of these disorders tend to be much greater and more debilitating among people who are older.
The important thing to remember is that you need to consider all your options and plan well ahead of time before you approach your parents about their substance abuse. Being prepared for the conversation - or conversations - that you are going to have might increase the probability that it will turn out to be successful.
Statistics on Adult Addiction
The NCADD - the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence - reports that drug and alcohol dependence among older adults is among the fastest growing issues being experienced in the American health sector. In particular, many older adults often find themselves turning to prescription medications. Consider the following statistics relating to addiction and substance abuse in the United States:
- 23.1 million Americans are in need of addiction treatment for their drug and alcohol abuse; this amount is equal to about 9.1 percent of the entire population above the age of 12
- Adults above the age of 65 years account for close to 13 percent of the total population; they also account for 30 percent of all patients receiving prescription medications in the United States
- Every year, doctors prescribe more than 17 million tranquilizers to older adults, and many of these patients end up struggling with substance use disorders linked to these medications
- More than 20.5 million Americans require recovery services but do not receive it
- More than 50 percent of all people residing in nursing homes have received a diagnosis for an alcohol related disorder
- Only about 9 percent of Americans in need of addiction treatment receive it
- Over 17.9 million Americans struggle with alcohol abuse and dependence issues, amount to about 7 percent of the entire population
- Over 2.5 million adults face drug and alcohol dependence and addiction disorders
- The total number of older adults who are hospitalized for a heart attack is the same as the number of people who are hospitalized for an alcohol related problem
Approaching Addicted Parents
But what can you do while getting an addicted parent help for their substance use disorder? Essentially, it might be emotionally and physically overwhelming to approach them about their addiction. This is particularly true because they are your parents and you are ideally supposed to get advice and guidance from them.
You might, for instance, feel that you would be overstepping if you were to bring up the addiction issue. Additionally, you could be sad, worried, and angry about their past substance abuse.
Even so, you should always remember that addiction is a progressive disease that does not discriminate according to age. If it is left untreated, this condition can only get worse. Unless you are able to convince your parents to check into an addiction treatment and rehabilitation program, they will only continue worsening.
Some of the things that you can do to get them the help that they need include:
1. Plan Ahead
Before you approach your parent to talk about their substance abuse and addiction, you may first want to ensure that you are well prepared. Planning ahead could take many forms. For instance, you could talk to addiction treatment professionals, mental health experts, and addiction counselors for advice.
Having these professionals by your side will arm you with the support that you are going to need. They could also advise you on how you can navigate the conversation and the process of getting your parent into an addiction rehabilitation program. In case your parent ends up agreeing to check into such a program, it is essential that you make the transition as soon as possible.
That said, you should remember that it may end up taking you a couple of attempts before you break through to your parent and convince them that an addiction treatment program is the only solution available for their condition.
2. Consider the Timing
The time you choose to approach a parent about their addiction can be equally important. It is recommended that you try bringing up the topic when they are not intoxicated. By so doing, they may be more focused and receptive about the discussion that you are having.
3. Control Your Emotions
Regardless of how you and your parents relate to each other, it can be emotional to deal with their addiction and to bring it out in to the open. This situation could also turn out to be troublesome.
Even so, you should always ensure that you check your emotions. You should also remember that your parents are probably blaming themselves and suffering from emotional turmoil as a result of their substance abuse and the various goings on in their life.
Instead of escalating these emotions, you should ensure that you come off appearing as concerned and loving as possible. You should avoid accusing them or bringing up any memories that could be painful for them.
The best approach would be to talk about all the specific examples of their substance abuse and addiction that you are worried about. You should also ensure that the conversation is focused on all your concerns, and that these concerns do not come off seeming argumentative and judgmental.
While trying to get an addicted parent into a treatment program, it is also important that you listen to them. You may already be armed with resources and solutions for them. As a result, this could make you feel that you need to do all the talking.
However, it is also important that you listen and understand everything that they have to say. This is because they want you to understand them just as much as you would like them to understand you.
During the discussion, you might not always agree with their point of view. However, you still need to remember that there may be some underlying reasons why they turned to addictive substances in the first place.
To this end, you should help them sort through their thoughts. You may also want to encourage them that all their issues will be worked through when they check into an addiction treatment program.
Listening will also give them an opportunity to vent to you. During this time, you will be able to allow them to focus on everything that it would take them to get back on the road to full recovery and sobriety.
While trying to understand their state of mind and how substance abuse affects them, it might also help if you asked them the following questions:
- Are there any triggers that often lead you to drug and alcohol use?
- Are you scared of checking into an addiction treatment program? If yes, why?
- Do you remember what caused you to start using these addictive substances?
- Do you think that the benefits of addiction outweigh those of your ongoing recovery?
- How much do you use on any given day?
- Is there anything that you would like to do so that you never need drugs or alcohol?
- What are some of the reasons why you abuse drugs and drink alcohol?
- What are some of the reasons why you feel the need to use drugs and alcohol?
- What can I do to convince you to check into an addiction treatment program?
- What feelings do you derive from drugs and alcohol?
- What happens when you are not using your favorite addictive substances?
- When did you start using drugs and drinking alcohol?
- Where do you go for your next batch of drugs/alcohol?
- Would you like to end your substance abuse and addiction once and for all?
These questions will encourage them to talk more about their substance abuse and addiction. The main goal of asking these questions would be to allow them to discuss the problems that they have been experiencing. It could also potentially encourage them to see the need for the addiction treatment help that you are offering.
5. Offer Help
From the first step, you would already have spoken to addiction treatment professionals about the fact that your parents are sinking deeper into addiction. This means that you will probably already know the steps that you have to take into getting them into a rehabilitation center.
Even so, you need to understand that most people do not go into these programs willingly. Most of them are resistant to and apprehensive and scared of addiction treatment. This is something that cuts across the board.
To this end, you should try to reassure your parents that you have already done your research. You should also inform them that they are not going to be alone in their recovery process. Instead, assure them that you will always be there to lend them a shoulder to lean on in case they ever need you.
6. Consider Yourself
While dealing with an addicted parent, it might be difficult for you to think about anything else other than them and their condition. You may also be struggling with financial, emotional, and mental stress. Further, it may be hard for you to find healthier ways to cope with the situation in which you find yourself.
Even so, it is important that you do not let yourself go. Remember that you can only do so much to get your parents the help that they need to overcome their substance use disorder. At the same time, you also need to take care of yourself and consider your own well-being.
To this end, it might help if you were able to talk to a counselor, therapist, or any other mental health professional. This will allow you to take a break from the stress that your parents have been causing you. It could also give you an opportunity to start healing from the wounds that their substance abuse created.
7. Keep at It
As long as your parents are still alive, you can continue hoping. Although they might be struggling with substance abuse and addiction, you can still get them the help that they need to start healing.
Irrespective of how long they have been drinking alcohol and using drugs, and no matter their resistance to your suggestions for treatment, it is never too late for them to get started on the journey to full recovery.
To this end, you should continue pushing your agenda and talking to them about their substance abuse. Never give up on your quest to get them into an addiction treatment program and you will eventually succeed.
Help for Addicted Parents
Getting an addicted parent help can be difficult. However, as long as you are able to continue talking to them about the issue and you have appropriate advice from addiction treatment professionals, you might be able to finally get through to them, and convince them to check into a rehab program. Although this might take some time, it will all be worth it once your parents are able to overcome their substance use disorders and any other co-occurring mental health disorders that they might also be struggling with.
If you or a loved one needs help for substance abuse or addiction, fill out the form below and a counselor will respond shortly.