Your child holds a special place in your heart. When an adult child has a substance use disorder (SUD), you will experience a range of emotions from disbelief to denial to anger. You may wonder where you went wrong and question your parenting skills.
After the initial feelings subside, you may wonder what happens next. While some may try interventions, others may encourage their child to seek help through detox or substance addiction treatment. SUD treatment is a helpful step in addressing your child’s substance and mental health issues, but what can you do to aid your child?
Is There an Age Limit?
Your child is your child, no matter how old they are. At some point, though, you may recognize they are also an adult. Do you have an obligation to help them once they leave your home? Whether you decide you want to be involved in their recovery process or remain apart is up to you.
While your child is in treatment, they may have the option to take part in family therapy. During these sessions, you can learn about addiction, what possible role you played in family dynamics, and how to support your child once they complete treatment. Another step you can take to help support your child’s sobriety is entering individual counseling for yourself.
Individual therapy sessions focused on your thoughts and feelings can create a more robust foundation of understanding and acceptance for you and your child. In addition, therapy can guide you to understand how you can emotionally support your child while also recognizing any role you may have in supporting their addiction.
When children grow, they often don’t need their parents as much as they once did. Maybe they’re growing up and requiring you less increases your urge to overstep boundaries and fix everything. You rebuild the relationship based on their need for you because you need to be needed.
Often, children with a SUD have poor decision-making skills that affect them and you. The stress created by a misguided decision can create friction in your relationship. Sometimes it’s easier to give in and fix things for your child because it decreases your stress levels. But, fixing things isn’t the answer.
Are You an Enabler?
A person who removes or decreases the consequences of another person’s self-destructive behavior might unintentionally enable the behavior. If you find yourself making excuses for or clearing away the aftermath of a poor decision, you may need to address your role as an enabler in therapy.
Because you love your child, you may try to do everything for them. Your role as a parent may, to you, be as the person who smooths out the road and tries to make their life easier. However, there comes the point when you will need to create boundaries. Your child is an adult. They are capable of making decisions. When you protect them from the consequences of their choices, you are hurting them. Every time you fix a problem for them, you allow them to forget their responsibility and deter their chance to learn from their actions.
How to Stop Enabling
The urge to fix things in your child’s life is normal, but there are limits. You can still assist your child, but you can do so without enabling them.
Parents and children who are in the enabling cycle need to assess their relationship. Your child may not recognize or won’t admit the relationship exists, but you can. You need to take the first step in breaking the cycle. Offer them alternatives instead of “fixing” a situation. Let them know you are there for them, listen, and offer advice. However, do not fix the problem for them.
Instead, encourage them to seek help for their addiction. Allowing them to walk the path to treatment and recovery is difficult, but they will have an extensive support system when they enter treatment.
When your child enters a substance addiction program, they are surrounded by those who want to see them succeed. Their support system includes therapists, group members, support groups, and any other form of support they choose.
Post Substance Addiction Tips
Once your child completes a substance addiction program, encourage them to work on the goals they set in their aftercare plan. You don’t need to abandon your child, but you should allow your child to work on goals independently. While they were in treatment, they learned healthy coping skills and integrated them into their daily routine.
You can continue to attend individual therapy sessions. Therapy is a healthy way of discussing your thoughts and feelings regarding your child, substance addiction, or your issues. Explore how you react to situations, your behavior patterns, and what you can do to increase your well-being.
Address any concerns you may have regarding your child’s post-treatment behavior. Find a non-confrontational way to express your concern and listen to their answers. Let them know you love and support them, but that only they can take responsibility for their recovery.
Being a parent is not easy. Being a parent to a child with a substance use disorder can create challenges. Substance addiction can tear families apart or form unhealthy relationships. Through substance addiction treatment, family therapy, and individual therapy, parents and adult children can identify their roles and create healthy boundaries. Parents can consciously or unconsciously enable their children, causing themselves and their children harm. For these reasons, it is vital for the adult child to seek substance addiction treatment and for the parent(s) to attend family therapy or individual therapy. Alta Centers, nestled in the Hollywood Hills, provides the first step in ending the enabling cycle. Our detox program includes the help necessary to get clean while receiving therapy safely. Once you talk to one of our caring staff members, you will understand our commitment to substance addiction treatment. Call Alta Centers today at (888) 202-2583 for more.