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3 Tips for How to Help Your Child with Addiction

A concerned father reaches out to his adult son who is struggling with addiction to alcohol.
When reaching out to your adult child about a suspected addiction to drugs or alcohol, it’s important to express your concern without lecturing and to prepare for a potentially negative response.

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If you’ve recently become aware of your adult child’s addiction to alcohol or other drugs, you might be wondering what you can do to fix the problem. That’s what good parents do. Unfortunately, addiction is a chronic disease that you can’t simply cover with a band-aid, the way you fixed problems when your child was small. In this post, you’ll learn how to help an alcoholic or drug addict who might be in denial about a substance use disorder.

Talking to Your Adult Child about Addiction: Your Role

Before you confront a loved one about a drinking or drug problem, you need to understand the role you play in the recovery process. The first thing you need to accept? You cannot control or cure your adult child’s addiction, as much as you’d like to do exactly that. Here’s what you can do:

1. Approach the conversation with sympathy and tact:

For starters, you need to remember that you aren’t speaking to a child anymore. Your son or daughter is an adult, and the tone of your conversation should reflect this. Here are some talking points to help frame your conversation:

  • You are genuinely concerned for your adult child’s physical health and safety
  • You value your relationship and want to preserve it
  • You have observed alarming trends related to drinking or drug use
  • You aren’t passing judgement on their behavior
  • You want to understand the underlying cause of the substance use

2. Choose the right time and place:

This is a sensitive topic, so don’t bring it up on a whim or in an awkward location. Here are a few suggestions that could make sense for you and your loved one:

  • Wait for a time when your adult child is least likely to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Find a neutral environment where both parties feel comfortable
  • Consider a public park with plenty of space for privacy or a private setting behind closed doors

3. Try to offer a dialogue, not a lecture:

If your adult child really is addicted to drugs or alcohol, don’t be surprised if you receive a defensive or combative response to your concerns. Denial is a common stage of the addiction grieving process. Resist the urge to tell your loved one what to do, offering your suggestions and support instead.

What to do if Your Conversation Takes a Negative Turn

Before you go into this conversation, set realistic expectations for your child’s reaction. Sure, it’s possible that talking to your adult child about drinking or drug use could spur the recovery process. While possible, this outcome is extremely unlikely – at least initially. For that reason, be prepared for your loved one to become defensive, argumentative or even angry. And, if that happens, it’s time to calmly end the conversation by letting your child know you love them and that you are always here to support them. Now is not the time to argue.

When Your Loved One is Ready for Addiction Treatment, The Raleigh House is Ready to Help

If someone you care about is struggling with addiction, don’t wait to get help. We offer comprehensive addiction rehab in Colorado that focuses on treating the person as a whole – not just a set of symptoms. Our drug treatment program combines nutrition and exercise with both group and individual counseling led by master’s-level addiction therapists. Fill out our form, or call today.

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