Suffering from addiction is a painful experience, but it is important to recognize that this suffering is not exclusive to the addict themself. Family members frequently find that engaging with their addicted loved one can be a challenging, painful, and even traumatic experience.
For parents of addicted adult children, it is crucial to behave lovingly without enabling their addictions. In that sense, parenting adult children with addictions involves striking a balance between helping them and taking care of yourself. There are many organizations which offers support for parents of addicts.
While it is not possible to single handedly manage or cure your adult child’s substance use disorder yourself, there are a number of behaviors and attitudes you can cultivate to ensure your own well-being and improve their chances of making a recovery and help you coping with child’s addiction.
Addiction is poorly understood by most people. Television shows, movies, and daytime news frequently depict individuals suffering from addiction in narrow stereotyped ways. Many people have an internalized concept of addiction that makes them assume addicts are necessarily destitute, homeless, violent, ill-groomed, among other traits.
While it is possible for someone with addiction to have any of these qualities, they do not constitute addiction. The worst misconception about addiction is that it is caused by lack of self-control, and that the best way to treat it is simply to try harder and exert more self-will.
The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Substance use disorders are legitimate medical conditions that require treatment. In essence, suffering from a substance use disorder means that a person experiences negative consequences from their drug or alcohol abuse, and that they are unable to stop even when they have a desire to do so.
This condition can manifest itself in many ways. Even if you can’t directly cure your child’s addiction, understanding the nature of it without passing judgment is the best approach you can take.
Addiction has many causes, ranging from genetic factors to environmental factors. If you and your family have a history of substance use disorders or if your child had a turbulent upbringing, it may be tempting to fault yourself for their addiction. The reality, however, is that there is never one “cause” for a person to develop a substance use disorder.
While you may feel that there are things you could have done better, especially when you’re dealing with disrespectful or estranged adult children, there is no benefit to regret. No parent is perfect. You’ll ultimately be of more service to yourself and your adult child by looking forward, not backward.
When our children are young, it is crucial to make sure that no harm comes to them. When they grow up, it can be tempting to maintain this approach. However, it is important to recognize that our adult children are capable of making decisions for themselves. These decisions may not always be the right ones.
While the lifeskills adult children possess may not be quite up to par, by allowing them to face the consequences of their actions we can increase the chances that they will learn from their past mistakes. Even when our addicted adult children seem to be making serious mistakes, such as jeopardizing their jobs or relationships, it is important not to clean up their messes for them or overly protect them.
You can’t control your child’s behavior or fix their addiction, but what you can do is look into treatment facilities that do have the ability to help them. Narcissistic adult children or estranged adult children may not be very amenable to advice coming directly from their parents, but in their time of need many come to their parents seeking help.
Recognize that you yourself will not be the cure for their substance use disorder, but you can offer your desperate offspring a variety of resource options that can provide them the help they need.
It is important that you do not stop loving your child when they are having problems with drugs and alcohol. Abandoning them while they suffer is not a good idea. In fact, research shows that individuals who feel more socially supported are more likely to enter treatment programs. Nonetheless, it is crucial to remember that unconditional love does not mean unconditional material support.
Setting boundaries with adult children is not the same as denying them love. Sometimes, for instance, when we know our adult children are going to use money to purchase illicit drugs, it is an act of love not to loan them money when they knock on our doors.
Recognize that the only way you can be of service to your addicted adult children is by taking care of yourself first. If you bend over backwards to serve their needs, you will overburden yourself, harm your mental health, drain your financial resources, and likely only end up enabling their addictions. Addiction can be as painful and traumatic for loved ones as it is for the addict themself. If you need additional support, consider therapy or a support group such as Al-Anon.
While putting these mental attitudes and behaviors into practice, you can best assure your adult child recovers from their addiction by enrolling them in a quality structured sober living home. Design for Recovery, a structured sober living home for young men in West Los Angeles, allows residents to build a strong sober social support system.
Our residents are committed to recovering from their substance use disorders and offer each other mutual support throughout the entire process. By working to develop better life-skills, Design for Recovery residents develop a strong foundation in sober living. By the time young men graduate from Design for Recovery’s program, not only can they confidently avoid relapse, but they have begun building a life that they value — and one they won’t throw away lightly.