A Guide for Any Child of an Addict
“25% of American children live with a parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. These children may have more responsibilities or may have different priorities in life due to the toxic environment that they are in.”
Addiction affects many Americans. It’s no surprise that many children live with one or even both parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. This is a huge deal. A child of an addict will usually struggle with a lot more trauma and negative emotions than a child living with sober parents.
These children need a significant amount of support to deal with what they’re going through. Mutual support groups, like Alateen meetings, can really help. At these meetings, children of addicts can discuss their situation and experiences without feeling ashamed or guilty. They can find others who can relate to their situation.
Sooner or later, most children of addicts will want to approach the addicted parent about their addiction. They may want the parent to get help. Or, they may want to simply get their feelings out. Here are some tips and tricks on how a child of an addict can approach his or her parent about recovery.
Collect Your Feelings by Writing It Down
It can be difficult to put your feelings into words. To make sure that you accurately portray what you want to say and that you get everything that you want to say out, write your feelings down. Clarify your own feelings, so that your feelings won’t be manipulated when you finally approach your parent about recovery.
Some of the questions that you might want to consider are:
- How did you feel when your parents were inebriated or intoxicated? Did you feel hurt or angry? Were you scared?
- Did the parent do anything while under the influence that hurt you? Did you feel sad or ashamed?
- How do their past actions affect you currently? It’s a good idea to list out some specific instances, along with how you felt during those instances.
Write down your feelings on a piece of paper or on a notepad. Write down whatever you feel. Don’t be ashamed to let the addicted parent know what you’ve been going through.
You’ll want to have what you wrote down with you while approaching the addicted parent about recovery. If the situation makes a turn for the worse, you can always turn back to the words that you wrote down for comfort and support. You’ll have an easier time steering the conversation back in the right direction.
Choose the Right Time to Talk
You might feel like you want to get your feelings out right away; however, you need to consider the mental and physical state of the parent struggling with addiction. Don’t try to talk to him or her when he or she is inebriated. That’s just a recipe for disaster.
Not only will none of your words reach the parent struggling with addiction, but you may also set future conversations up for failure. The addict may refuse to engage in any conversation that discusses his or her addiction. Also, if the parent is under the influence, he or she will probably not be productive. He or she may have difficulties following the conversation or understanding what you mean.
By approaching the intended target only when he or she is sober, you’ll get them at a time where they are clear headed. There’s a higher chance that your words will mean something to him or her.
You might also want to consider when the addicted parent may be in the best mood. Some people recommend waiting and monitoring the addicted parent to see whether he or she follows a schedule. Wait for the right time and then strike!
Get Some Support from Others Around You
It can be scary to approach a parent about his or her addiction. Most children of addicts will chicken out. They’re not sure how they can get their message across. Or, they’re not sure that what they have to say will be well-received. Some children may be afraid that the addicted parent may become furious, agitated or even violent.
The good thing is that you don’t have to approach your parent about recovery alone. Look around you. You likely have a lot of people around you who are willing to support you and be there with you while you try to get your feelings out.
Ask another concerned relative to be by your side while you talk. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching your parent one-on-one, you can even consider staging a group intervention. If you are interested in staging a group intervention, consider all of the people that may be able to influence or encourage the addicted parent to get help. Possible candidates include your other parent, your grandparents, your aunts, your uncles and your siblings.
State Your Expectations
When talking to the addicted parent, it’s always a good idea to state your expectations. This includes what you’re looking for and what you’re hoping to get out of the talk. This may include anything from having the parent check into a rehab facility for residential treatment or having the addicted parent start going to recovery meetings.
In addition to stating your expectations, make sure that you also state what the consequences may be if the parent decides not to get help or if he or she does not follow through with his or her promises.
Some children of addicts may decide to withdraw financial and physical help. These children tend to be adults and are financially stable. They may decide that they will no longer waste their time helping the addict get back on his or her feet after he or she has spent all of their paycheck on drugs or alcohol.
Other children of addicts may decide to go as far as cutting the addicted parent out completely. They may decide to have no contact with the addict, and may not allow the addicted parent to see his or her grandchildren until he or she can prove that he or she is sober.
Make sure that you clearly think about what you expect to happen from the conversation prior to having the conversation. You also need to have a tough conversation with yourself on what the consequences will be. Deciding to cut the addicted parent out of your life completely will be a difficult decision; however, if that’s what you’ve decided to do, you must be firm with your decision.
Consider Getting Professional Help
What should you say during an intervention or when approaching an addicted parent about recovery? What type of language may be most effective? Or, is there a way that you should present your ideas?
It can be difficult to approach anyone about recovery, let alone a parent.
You should highly consider asking a professional. An intervention specialist can help you better understand the different types of interventions that are out there. They will look at the addict’s personality to determine whether one intervention method may be more appropriate or suitable than another.
Many people find comfort in relying on a professional. They feel less stressed about approaching the addict about recovery. They may be in a better mental state during the intervention.
You Can Call Us for More Information
If you are the child of an addict, there are many addiction resources out there that are designed to help you move forward with your life. Don’t let your parent’s addiction weigh you down and prevent you from living your life. Amethyst Recovery Center has a variety of addiction treatment programs that can help addicts overcome a substance use disorder (SUD).
In addition to treating the addict, our programs also extend to those who are affected by the addict. Our family support program is very popular among our residents. We help loved ones mend broken and strained relationships with the addicts who are in our care. Our programs encourage family involvement and support. These two factors can be key to a successful recovery.
To learn more about what we have to offer, give us a call at 888-447-7724. If you have any questions or concerns or if you have any experiences with approaching a parent about recovery, you can also leave a comment below.