Restorations Therapy Blog

Being the Parent of an Addicted Child

by on Thursday, September 24th, 2020

Being the Parent of an Addicted Child

As a parent, your instincts cause you to protect your child at all costs. When you find out your child has fallen victim to addiction, it can be difficult to know what to feel and what to do. Educating yourself about the disease and the proper ways to help your child is the best thing you can do to help them make strides towards recovery. Remember that treatment is necessary because addiction is a delicate disease and must be treated properly in order for your child to recover.

Recognizing the Signs

Addiction shows itself in a person through behavioral, physical, and psychological signs. Recognizing these signs can help you know if your child is suffering from addiction.

Behavioral Signs

  • Obsessive thoughts & actions
  • Disregard to the damage being done
  • Losing control
  • Denial or hiding the addiction
  • Physical Signs
  • Physical warning signs of addiction manifest themselves in three categories: side effects, overdose, and withdrawal.
  • Side Effects
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Enlarged or small pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Sudden gaining or losing weight
  • Poor physical coordination
  • Abnormal body odors
  • Slurred speech
  • Looking unkempt
  • Overdose
  • Agitation
  • Aggression or violent behavior
  • Drowsiness or trouble walking
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Appetite loss
  • Seizures
  • Headaches and fever
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Shakiness, trembling, or jumpiness
  • Psychological
  • Inattentiveness
  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Anxiousness
  • Unexplained paranoia
  • Changes in personality/attitude
  • Emotionally and mentally withdrawing from others
  • Lack of motivation

What You Should Do

Remember there are certain things you should do and avoid during the delicate time of your child being an addict. Knowing how to approach the situation properly can save your child’s life.

Don’t Ignore the Problem or Make Excuses

Being an enabler is one of the worst things you can do for your addicted child. Do not minimize the problem for them or make them believe they have no problem at all. Remember that if you allow them to keep using or drinking through your enablement, the negative impacts of addiction will be even stronger on their relationships, finances, physical and mental health, work, and self-esteem.

Set Boundaries & Have a Safe Space for Communication

Make sure you know how to set proper boundaries, but remember that there is a fine line with family members. Sit down your child with the family and other loved ones to discuss how the addiction is negatively impacting both them and their loved ones.

Try to avoid the “how could you do this to me” method, since this tends to only bring about more feelings of guilt and shame. Instead, express your concerns clearly and directly. Make your needs and expectations known and assure your child that you want to help them.

The conversation you have with your child will most likely be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. It is a step in the right direction to healing the relationships between the addict and their loved ones.

Don’t Reprimand Your Child’s Choices

Addiction is a chronic disease. No one chooses to become addicted. While the initial choices an individual makes can play a role in the addiction such as drinking or using drugs, it can be difficult to withstand addiction once it grabs ahold of you. Drugs and alcohol are powerful substances that take control of pain, changing one’s personality and behavior.

Your loved one feels just as trapped as you do, or even more so. They need genuine love and support instead of “tough love.” This is because the “tough love” approach will make them feel more shame and guilt. This can lead to isolation and more substance use.

Address the Behavior Rather Than the Actual Person

The last thing your child needs when going through addiction is additional judgment or discouragement. However, you are allowed to clearly point out the actions that are negatively affecting their loved ones. Focus on how you feel, such as phrases like “when you stay out very late, I am concerned for your safety.”

By making the conversation less confrontational and more like a discussion, you are more likely to get your child to talk with you openly. Your emotions are not up for debate so they cannot deny what you are feeling. Once you discuss your side. Give them space to discuss how they are feeling.

Do Not Smother Your Child

Give your child space to do the hard work recovery requires of them. Do not complete basic tasks for them, as they may believe they cannot survive on their own without the aid of someone else. Show them that they are capable of living life on their own and capable of overcoming their addiction.

Ask Your Child How You Can Best Support Them

Always remind your child that you love them and truly have their best interest at heart. You want their life to be happy and fulfilling. Give them space and ask how you can help them best during this time. By asking them this, you are showing that you truly respect their boundaries and respect what they have to say. Keep in mind that you should not help them if the request is unreasonable. Do not put their recovery in jeopardy.

Being the parent of an addicted child can be incredibly heart wrenching and confusing. You may not know how to feel or what to do. Start by educating yourself on addiction and the best ways to help your child. Learn how to recognize the warning signs of addiction and what you can do to help encourage your child towards recovery. During this time, don’t forget to take care of yourself. You cannot help them if you are not helping yourself.

If you are a loved one of an addict looking for resources, contact Restorations Therapy at (720) 446-6585. You are not alone.

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