If you have an adult child who has developed substance use disorder and you are not sure how to provide support, you may have a lot of learning to do. This task is different from caring for a teenager with addiction because your adult child now makes most of his or her decisions in life. Your support is critical, and educating yourself about the cycle of addiction and treatment options can be the best way to help your child.
How Do You Identify Signs of Addiction?
Even if your adult child is no longer living under your roof, there are ways to tell if they are struggling. You may identify early signs of substance use before it becomes a full-blown addiction. Early intervention is always best, but you need to be educated enough to know how to best intervene.
Addiction almost always affects one’s behavior. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is “a chronic, relapsing brain disease.” Your adult child may exhibit physical or behavioral indicators such as red eyes, dilated pupils, weight loss, lack of proper grooming, secretive behavior, the tendency to self-isolate, paranoia, hyperactivity, lethargy, work absenteeism, and lack of interest in old hobbies.
Because drugs and alcohol consumption are costly, your adult child might have financial difficulties. As their substance abuse affects their mental and physical capabilities, they might not be able to maintain jobs and they may have a sudden need for money. You might find your child lying to you about their work and money situations. These are all signs that your adult child may have a substance use issue that needs to be addressed.
What If I Don’t Know Much About Substance Addiction?
Now is the time to learn as much as you can about substance use disorders. Knowledge is not only power, it can help you avoid mistakes like stigmatization, blame, or shame. Educating yourself on the science behind addiction can help dissipate residual prejudice about people with addiction. You would not want to bring these negative attitudes to your child because they can create barriers to treatment and recovery.
Understanding how substance addiction happens and what it does to a person also increases your compassion for others. Many young adults develop substance use disorders due to work-related stress, mental health challenges, or trauma. You may need to have a conversation about these things with your child to check in with them and get them started on a treatment path.
What Should I Do to Help?
There are things you can do and things you should not do. If your child’s addiction is related to childhood trauma, you cannot undo things in the past. What you can do is encourage your loved one to seek help at an addiction treatment facility. Don’t force them into it, but help them understand their options and how treatment can help them. Your biggest role is offering listening ears and emotional support.
Now that your child is an adult, there are boundaries you need to respect. They must take accountability for their actions but not become so hard on themselves that they spiral into guilt. You should not create codependency for them to fall back on you. Unless their mental health conditions make it difficult, let them make their own decisions about treatment plans.
Is There Hope for My Child?
Substance addiction is a complex but treatable disease. As long as your adult child is open to treatment, recovery is achievable. Help your child to choose the right path. Lean on positive messaging when they feel hopeless and do not magnify their worries. Consider family-based intervention or therapy to connect you and your child with trained recovery experts.
Hope is also important for yourself. Many parents find it troubling that their child has fallen into bad habits and lied to them, though addiction causes people to do things they wouldn’t do if their brains were healthy. To best support your loved one, practice self-care, find a strong support group and keep the line of communication open between you and your child.
What Kind of Treatment Should My Child Consider?
Once your adult child is ready to begin treatment, there are many ways you can get engaged to support them during the process. First and foremost, you can help them find the right program. Depending on their mental health needs and work situations, many treatment centers offer various levels of care. Some are more intensive and comprehensive while others offer flexibility around people’s schedules.
Treatment and recovery take a lot of hard work. Your role as a supportive parent is key. Help them have realistic expectations because there will be ups and downs in this journey. Keep your child informed and let them make their own decisions. Another important thing you can help with is creating positive family connections. Celebrate small wins with your family and always keep the positive vibe going in the home.
Parenting an adult child with substance addiction can be challenging. You can stay informed about addiction and recovery, establish healthy boundaries when caring for your adult child, and watch out for codependent patterns between you and your child so that your actions do not enable their addiction. It is also important to stay positive and know that addiction is a treatable disease. If you feel overwhelmed, you do not need to go through this alone. The best thing to do is work with professional interventionists and recovery experts who embrace a family-based approach. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our experienced mental health professionals can coach you and your family through the recovery process. Schedule an appointment with us today to discover how we can help you. Call (866) 229-9923, and we will be happy to talk with you about short-term and long-term recovery plans for your loved one.