What to Do When a Parent is an Addict
Addiction can negatively affect every person who is connected with it, including family members who have to deal with the behavior nearly every day. Children are especially sensitive to the effects of an addicted family member, and when a parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol it can have a major impact on a child's life. Even adult children of an addict are dealing with some difficult emotions and might not know what to do to resolve the situation.
Addiction can negatively affect every person who is connected with it, including family members who have to deal with the behavior nearly every day. Children are especially sensitive to the effects of an addicted family member, and when a parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol it can have a major impact on a child's life.
Even adult children of an addict are dealing with some difficult emotions and might not know what to do to resolve the situation. There could be a lot of complicated feelings associated with your parent's addiction including anger, guilt, shame or resentment.
The important thing is to deal with these feelings that have been building up because of events from the past and present. Find a support system to help you through it, avoid enabling or codependent behavior and if possible try to help your parent to realize they need to recover.
Getting Help with Therapy
It can be hard to live with an addicted parent but there are ways to ease the pain until they make the decision to quit. Talking to other people about the situation and opening up about your feelings can relieve some of the stress, anger or other issues you may be experiencing because of their behavior.
Going to therapy can help you deal with the complex issues you might be facing because of your parent. A professional counselor can give you more insight and understanding into how your parent's addiction has impacted you in the past and continues to affect you now.
Telling the therapist stories from your childhood and discussing times your parent hurt you or disappointed you can help you let go of some of those bad memories. You can learn not to blame yourself for your parent's addiction or anything that has happened as a result of their substance abuse.
Guilt and low self-esteem are common among children with addicted parents and therapy can help to resolve some of those feelings. It is important for them to understand that their parent's behavior is not their fault.
Connecting with Other Children of Addicts
One of the most helpful actions that a person can take when they have a parent who is an addict is to find a support group with people that are going through the same experience. Talking to other people who have grown up with an addicted parent and have gone through many of the same pain and embarrassment can be very cathartic.
Support groups are there to help you to realize that a lot of people have the same story that you do and you are not alone in your suffering. Group meetings give people the chance to not only listen to other people's stories but to tell their own so that they are no longer holding in all the feelings that they go through every day. Connecting with other adults who have addicted parents can give you the strength that you need to move on and stop letting your parent's behavior affect you.
In an ideal situation, a parent who is addicted will finally hit rock bottom and ask for help for their disease. Getting to this point can take them time but in some ways you can help them reach this realization through your own actions. Make sure to avoid any type of enabling behavior that will prevent them from experiencing the full consequences of their actions.
Never attempt to rescue them by lending them money, lying or covering up for them. Helping out a parent when their substance abuse creates problems will only delay the process of them admitting they have an addiction. They need to feel for themselves how much their behavior hurts everyone before they can finally choose recovery.