Figuring out how to support an adult child who is actively engaged in drug or alcohol abuse can be difficult for any parent. It is important that they offer love and support without engaging in behaviors that enable addiction and substance abuse. It is often difficult for parents to draw the line between being supportive and being enabling.
As such, many parents fall into one of two traps: either tacitly condoning their children’s addictions or violently condemning their children and pushing them away. However, setting boundaries with adult children who suffer from addiction while still expressing unconditional love is indeed possible. Doing so is the best way to protect both the child and the parent.
How To Support Your Adult Child in Addiction Recovery?
Helping Your Adult Child Find The Resources They Need
Parents need to recognize that they are not going to be able to cure or manage their adult child’s substance use disorder. However, they can offer their love and support. While doing so is no guarantee that their child will get sober, it can have a positive effect. Research shows that individuals who perceive their social support as strong have a higher chance of entering an addiction treatment program.
They are also more likely to remain committed to the treatment process over time. However, while expressing unconditional love is beneficial, providing material support is not always the best idea. Even though a parent’s adult children may be good people deep down inside, addiction drives individuals to make unwise decisions. Offering financial support to addicted adult children may ultimately mean providing them with increased access t drugs and alcohol.
When parents provide a bed for adult children living at home, they may be unwittingly giving them an area to use drugs and alcohol without having to worry about rent. The mood and behavioral changes associated with substance abuse can be a recipe for narcissistic, disrespectful, or even abusive adult children. For these reasons, it is recommended that parents express their love while setting boundaries with adult children.
While it may not be possible for parents to directly cure or manage their adult child’s addiction, parents can take concrete steps to help their children get the help they need. Parents can research addiction treatment resources. These can include outpatient therapy programs and residential treatment programs.
Parents can also work to educate themselves on the nature of substance use disorders. While there is no way of forcing someone into a treatment program, by assembling a list of treatment options, parents can put themselves in a good position to offer assistance if their child ever does ask for help. Parents can even, if they so choose, offer financial support for adult children who may be unable to pay for addiction treatment.
Take Your New Relationship Slowly
Addictions don’t only damage the physical and mental health of the addicted individual, they also damage interpersonal relationships and the mental health of loved ones. Parents of addicted and narcissistic adult children often have fraught relationships.
There might have been a lot of fighting, violent behavior, and pent-up resentment. In many cases, relationships are severed entirely. Addictions can cause estranged adult children to go months or even years without talking to their parents.
When an adult child enters a treatment program, it is important for parents to be patient. As the addicted person recovers from their substance use disorder, they will inevitably gain more emotional clarity, self-control, and inner peace.
Part of the recovery process entails developing the lifeskills adult children are expected to have, such as honesty, integrity, accountability, and respect. As a natural consequence, a parent’s relationship with their adult child will inevitably improve.
However, the recovery process does not happen overnight. The initial weeks and months of sobriety are often a rollercoaster of emotions, and many people in early sobriety struggle with emotions that they’ve spent years numbing. Parents need to understand that sobriety is a process that doesn’t end with withdrawal. Over time, however, they will likely develop a closer relationship with their adult children.
Don’t Micromanage Their Recovery
Individuals who are friends, significant others, or family members of addicts often struggle with control issues. It is only natural to want to control and manage behaviors that seem so obviously destructive. However, when a person has entered an addiction treatment program, it is important to have faith in the process.
The treatment process is lengthy and difficult, and if a person is in a quality program, they already have all the resources they need — there is no need for parents to nag, plead, or beg their children to recover faster or better. If a parent has a concern, however, they can communicate it honestly.
It is important not to put high expectations on an adult child in a treatment program. The best approach for parenting adult children in addiction treatment programs is simply to provide love, support, and an ear that is available for listening.
Be Honest About Needing Help Yourself
Not only do parents of addicted adult children struggle with control issues, they often suffer from serious emotional (and sometimes financial) wounds. It is not uncommon for the loved ones of addicts to have a great deal of trauma. It is important not to put the entire burden of recovery on the addicted individual.
In fact, parents and other loved ones of addicts often need to pursue their own forms of recovery and self-care. Outpatient psychotherapy can help people work through their emotional problems.
Support groups like Al-Anon, a 12-step program for loved ones of addicts and alcoholics, can also help people find support from a like-minded community. These programs emphasize self-care and also help people let go of their desire to control the behavior of their addicted loved one. Ultimately, by looking after themselves first and foremost, parents put themselves in a far better position to offer aid.
Structured Sober Living Programs
For individuals who are trying to get sober from drugs or alcohol, a structured sober living program makes sense. Structured sober living homes offer all of the resources that adult children often seek from their parents, but they also offer a strong support system simultaneously.
As such, parents who are at a loss to help their adult children living at home or their estranged adult children would be wise to recommend structured sober living houses. One study on sober living homes found that the community support they offer leads to strong recovery outcomes even years after graduation.
Design for Recovery, a structured sober living home in West Los Angeles, offers a supportive environment for men who have a desire to stop abusing alcohol or drugs. Whether a person is just beginning process or has been sober for a while but needs support, Design for Recovery can help. Our supportive staff and dedicated residents are committed not just to getting sober and avoiding relapse, but building new lives. If you or your adult child is interested in finding out more, contact us today.