31 Mar 2021 admin


One of the toughest things to go through as a parent is to see your child suffer. Whether 8, 15, or 23 years old, your parental instincts will always be to protect your child and see them doing great. But what happens when your child is on a path of self-destruction due to alcohol or drug abuse? It can also be more challenging if said child is now an adult and struggling to have their life together. While being the parent your child needs at that point may be a difficult task, it is not impossible. You can still help your child on their journey to recovery and getting their life back together. Substance use disorders or addiction is a disease affecting many people globally. In Canada alone, it is estimated that about 21% of the population will meet the criteria for addiction at some point in their lives, with alcohol being the most commonly abused substance. Addictions usually start from misuse of substances, and while some people are lucky to scale through substance use without addiction, many people are not as fortunate.

What do you do if your adult child is struggling with an addiction?


Accept That Your Child Is An Adult

Being a parent, you may never fully want to accept that your child is an adult who is responsible for their actions. You might feel responsible for them and blame yourself for their actions. Your child may even blame you for their addiction. Unless you are the one who introduced them to those substances, you should absolve yourself of that guilt. While different factors may have triggered substance use and eventual addiction, you should learn to accept that your child is an adult who made their decision. Having a child who struggles with addiction does not mean you have failed as a parent. Rid yourself of that guilt and blame, and accept that your child chose this path.

Address Addiction Issue

After coming to the reality of your child’s addiction, the next course of action is addressing it and seeking a solution. As tempting as it might be for you to ignore it out of fear, shame, or ignorance, this would not be helpful for your child. If you want your child to consider recovery, you have to confront the situation and seek a solution.

Separate the Disease From The Person

When you confront your child about their addiction problem, it would be helpful not to judge or mock them. You should try as much as possible to address the addiction problem and its effects on your child without making your child feel badly or negatively about themselves. Even though your child is struggling, you are still their parent. As a result, you have a responsibility to look out for them and put them on the right path without tearing them down. Assure your child of your love but stress the importance of seeking professional help.

Do Not Enable Them

Because of your parental instincts, you may be tempted to constantly protect your child and cover up for them even though you know they are on a path of self-destruction. When you provide an enabling environment for your child despite their struggles, it becomes harder for them to seek help and recover from an addiction. Sometimes, your child may know how much you love them and try to manipulate you into enabling them. As a parent of a child struggling with addiction, you should learn to set firm boundaries for your sake and that of your child.

Forms of Enablement Include:

  • Making excuses for their certain behaviors caused by drug abuse
  • Constantly rescuing or bailing your adult child out of problems caused by their addiction
  • Continuously lending them money that you know will be used to get more drugs
  • Lying to cover up their addiction, poor behaviour, and destructive action
  • Fulfilling financial responsibilities of your adult child with addiction

While doing the things listed above may feel like you’re making the right decision and “helping” your child, it does quite the opposite. It makes your adult child believe they don’t have to face the consequences of their actions, and less likely to feel the need to seek treatment.

Help Them Seek and Get The Help They Need

Instead of enabling your child, you can help them by seeking help for their addiction together. You can look through available recovery programs and visit centres together. Ask them how you can be helpful towards their recovery once they decide to get help. Driving them to their appointments and visiting them while they are on admission can also serve as a morale booster for your child. You can also support your adult child by being a part of their counseling sessions and support groups. This would make them feel loved and supported, which would aid their recovery process.

Seek A Support Group

Parenting an adult child struggling with an addiction can take its toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. You may struggle with conflicting emotions of love, guilt, shame, and loneliness. Instead of bottling them up and focusing on helping your child alone, remember that you also have needs that should be addressed. It would be helpful to receive counselling and join support groups of parents who may be facing similar difficulties. By doing this, you will have a safe space to process all your emotions and a group of people cheering you on. Do you have an adult child struggling with alcohol use disorder or drug addiction? You can speak with a licensed physician who specializes in addiction medicine on the best treatment options available for your child and the next step you need to take. Book an appointment here: