Helpful Advice for Parents of Addicts

The family unit is vital to the development of adolescents and other loved ones. Parents of addicts can experience tsunamis of complications. The pain of watching a loved one battling addiction will stir up intense emotions and thoughts. There is help for parents of drug addicts though. Maintaining the relationship between yourself and a person struggling will define the outcome of their recovery. Addiction is an illness of the mind and should be treated as such.

According to the CDC, underage drinkers typically have more drinks than their adult counterparts. Marijuana use is increasing, more so than nicotine, especially amongst younger users. Those who have experienced trauma or abuse are more likely to resort to addictive substances. Peer pressure and lack of positive role models play a role in the development of these disorders. A key reminder of addiction is that the genetic factor can affect the chances of someone experiencing compulsive behaviors — notably with alcohol dependence. Self-compassion and endurance would help for parents of drug addicts.

How Addiction Works in the Brain

Essentially, addiction rewires the neural pathways in the brain that focus on the reward. Chemical messengers such as dopamine and serotonin are responsible for the pleasure senses in the body. Our brains are designed to repeat pleasurable sensations and behaviors like a roulette game. Addictive substances usually manipulate these chemical messengers and receptors, making natural stimuli like exercise or reading a book less effective. 

Long-term use will generate dependence through tolerance. However, if use suddenly stops, withdrawal symptoms could appear. Some are non-lethal while others can be severe, but this can enable the vicious cycle. These factors determine the severity of addiction:

  • Type of substance
  • Frequency of use
  • Amount used

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

While addiction can be a whirlwind of emotions and behavior, it’s critical to look out for signs in your child or loved one such as:

  • Poor academic performance
  • Getting into a conflict with others
  • Diminished interest in activities or hobbies
  • Isolation
  • Missing money or medication
  • Poor hygiene, track marks, or bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of eye contact, withdrawal
  • Demand for privacy and unexplained disappearances
  • Mood swings
  • Memory problems
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Runny nose, flu-like symptoms

Addiction is known as a disease that spreads from the individual to those surrounding them, almost like a grenade. Parents of addicts need to understand that the battle their loved one is facing requires attention and diligence. Education about addiction aims to help parents of drug addicts by enabling them to understand the specific nuances. Addiction is best described as a person’s persistent use of a substance or behavior, minimizing their functionality and ability to quit. It can be jarring to witness a loved one transform from a healthy being to someone unrecognizable.

Advice for Parents of Addicts

Each family dynamic is going to vary but it’s important to consider that every case needs deliberate care. Financial difficulties, medical issues, and tense relationships are some of the hallmarks of addiction within a family. Every member of the family will struggle when addiction is prevalent. Some might take a more proactive role in the recovery while others might isolate themselves to preserve their pain.

Keeping an open communication style could be beneficial advice for parents of addicts. The coping skills of each member will have a lasting impact on the recovery process, as an intervention might bring up uncomfortable but necessary conversations.

How Can Acceptance Help?

One of the first bits of advice for parents of addicts is to accept the problem. Denial is a force to reckon with, leaving blind spots for the addiction to grow. Prioritizing honesty about the issue will only enable the issue to be solved. The emotional safety that denial brings might provide temporary comfort but it’s necessary to confront these feelings early. 

By opening up, it could demonstrate how much you care and want to be an active member of the recovery process. Recovery does not have to be lonesome and by being there for your loved one, you’ll improve your chances.

What are Healthy Approaches For Parents of Addicts?

Observing a loved one with a disorder such as substance use can be heartbreaking. It’s crucial to express your feelings without judging them. Their path of addiction probably stemmed from a need to escape or handle their emotions/mental health issues. Your first impulse might come in the form of a confrontation and inspire guilt of their actions, but the success of this approach won’t be what you intend. It can often push that loved one away as they see the direct influence of their addiction on the family, hiding behind their feelings. If you have an opportunity to reach out to other parents and experts, you might be able to find some clearer perspective.

How Can Self-Care Help?

Despite your instincts to protect your children, it’s important to prioritize your mental and physical health to endure these challenges. Whether it’s journaling or exercising, these options can provide an outlet for these delicate experiences. 

Practicing healthy coping mechanisms within the family can offer a bright example into the lives of those loved ones who are struggling. Crafting a support system is helpful, as you’ll rely on those closest to you for empathy. Seeking therapy or family counseling could provide more understanding as to why the person is struggling with addiction.

How Can I Establish Boundaries?

Self-care can serve as the coat of armor through the obstacles of addiction. It’s critical to set boundaries with yourself and be on the lookout for manipulation. Establishing accountability with the child will set the stage for you to protect yourself. Some advice would be to avoid giving cash, car privileges and ensuring they don’t spend time with friends who use them.

Protect Your Assets

A key piece of advice for parents of addicts is to protect their assets. As uncomfortable as the experience might be, preserving your valuables can prevent the loved one from trading for addictive substances. Adolescents will often pawn these valuables to score, which could place the family in dire straits financially. 

A lockbox or storage unit would be ideal but find what works best for you to ensure the security of the family. Those with severe addictions can become desperate to get a fix because the cost of use can be expensive.

What Are The Options for a Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders are best described as a combination of mental health and substance use disorders. This is important to classify in order to make sure you’re providing the best treatment for the compulsive behaviors of your loved one. Beyond the intervention stage, a rehab or counseling would be a great window into the underlying issues. By creating a safe and open space, the path towards recovery can present itself.

How to Stage An Intervention

Staging an intervention is typically the next step in the recovery process, after acknowledging the addiction. Timing is very significant at handling the addiction by preventing further spread. If the child is an adolescent, the development of their brain is directly impacted by the addictive behavior for long term use. For example, teens are likely to experiment with addictive substances to either fit in or cope with their experiences. They might come across as knowledgeable but it’s important to be non-judgmental but proactive towards these challenges. 

Hiring An Interventionist

Having a professional interventionist there allows the family to witness a structured method to address the addiction. An interventionist can inspire confidence in the parents of addicts by preparing them through coaching and constructive feedback. A small group of loved ones and a neutral setting would be ideal for an intervention. Seeking treatment should be the main target through intervention. Parents of addicts must be prepared but also understand that the recovery process could pose more obstacles than expected. Reminding yourself of the love you have could be the guiding light.

Parents of Addicts

Roughly 1 in 8 children lives with a parent that had an active substance use disorder in the past year. The factors that could affect this would be if it’s a single/dual-parent household and whoever is struggling with addiction. In contrast, parents of addicts will often experience confusion, as to why the child chose to become addicted and how they were responsible. 


The powerlessness of this experience can be exhausting, with nights filled with anxiety and worrying about the safety of their child. Parents of addicts can even take the form of enablers, by providing financial support for their loved one. This poses challenges to effectively reduce the addiction.

It’s important to recognize that siblings within the family unit can be vulnerable to the effects of addiction. Parents of addicts often focus on the needs of the struggling child but end up ignoring the care for other children. The siblings are prone to be on the outskirts, watching from afar. This can inspire feelings of neglect, with some abstaining from substances while others will begin to use themselves. 

Children who grow up in an environment where addiction is present are more likely to develop substance use disorders. Violence and emotional abuse are common occurrences during this period. This pattern can drastically influence the progression of recovery.

Recovery Is Here With Intrepid Detox

The effects of addiction can devastate a family to a breaking point. The nature of addiction can cause so many rifts between relationships, with the damage often leading to death. Intrepid Detox is here with open arms to guide you or your loved one’s recovery process. Our locations are equipped to be the lifeboat in the sea of uncertainty. Please contact us today.