Having a parent who is either quite clearly in the grip of addiction or who you believe may have a problem is a very difficult position to be in.
Be assured there is a lot of help out there for you and them. There is no need to be alone or to be ashamed.
Addiction is something that can affect anyone, it is not anyone’s fault and is a far more widespread issue than many people realise.
Alcohol dependency is estimated to affect one in every 100 people and four out of five of people dependent on alcohol are not in treatment.* Substance abuse is also common and affects people from all walks of life.
In this post we’ll cover:
Dealing with an addicted parent, step-parent or carer doesn’t become straightforward just because you are grown-up yourself.
If you are living with an alcoholic parent it creates different challenges to those when you are not living with them, but does not necessarily lessen the worry and damage.
The impact of alcoholism, drug dependency – either to illicit substances or prescription drugs and other addictive behaviours, such as gambling, cause tremendous harm, hurt and worry whatever the living situation.
If your mother or father is living alone you no doubt have worries about them having a health crisis whilst you are not there, being unable to pay bills and so on.
Seeking professional support for you and them is vital.
It’s likely the toll of your parent’s addiction has been heavy on you and you deserve support to maintain your wellbeing.
There are several support groups specifically focused on providing strength, advice and friendship to the loved ones of those dealing with alcoholism and addiction (listed below).
However much you may feel let down or betrayed by the behaviour of your mum or dad, they are not choosing to be addicted to a certain behaviour and it is most likely causing them a great deal of guilt and pain. They need help too.
Addiction is very often characterised by denial, secrecy and shame.
A parent or step mum or dad who is addicted often does not want to admit it even to themselves. They are probably least likely to want to admit it to their children, who there’s a natural inclination for them to protect and nurture.
That desire to ignore or hide the problem often leads to further harm due to dishonesty as they try to hide or continue what they are doing. They may also attempt to blame others for their behaviour, which can be hurtful and damaging to relationships.
Mounting a staged intervention is one way to challenge their denial. An intervention involves the people closest to your mum or dad gathering to explain the impact their behaviour is having on those they care about. Helping an alcoholic or addict is achieved by acting, wherever possible, in a loving way and avoiding accusations and blame.
It is vital to take steps to ensure your parent does not feel isolated or victimised during an intervention, or indeed, in any conversation about their behaviour. If your parent feels that way they are likely to become defensive and unlikely to accept help. Professional help can be sought to mount a successful intervention.
An intervention should only be attempted if you feel certain your parent will not become violent or if measures have been taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
The following signs that someone has an addiction issue may not be present in every person who does need help, but you may spot some of them.
The difficulty with spotting addiction is that ‘addiction’ and alcoholism do not present themselves, in the same way, every time.
The signs and symptoms of alcoholism for one person may be different from the next – some alcohol dependent people can go for long periods without drink but then binge drink to excess. This NHS test can help to solidify an opinion on whether someone’s drinking is harmful.
‘Functioning alcoholics’ can hold down jobs and appear to live normal lives for many years whilst being dependent on drink. The same is true of people who may be gambling, taking drugs or exhibiting some other behaviour in a destructive way.
The addiction of a parent can and often does have a deep impact on a child whether they are a grown-up child or still under 18.
Growing up in a household with someone who has an addiction can be especially damaging and lead to all sorts of issues with mental ill health, guilt, fear, self-esteem problems, confidence issues and risks of harm and neglect.
If you are a child living with a parent who has an addiction, don’t be frightened to reach out for help. Confidential support is available via Childline. There is someone there 24 hours a day who help you.
Children of people with addiction may be more at risk of developing alcoholism or addictions themselves. Genetics may play a role though as can the trauma of caring about someone with an addiction or alcohol problem or being brought up in an environment where that is present.
That is not to say that all children of parents with addiction will become addicted themselves.
To access treatment for a parent who has a problem with alcohol, drugs or some other behaviour you need them to be willing.
You cannot do it for them and cannot fix them.
The more input, professional, peer and family support someone has the more likely they are to be able to get well.
Residential rehab is the most effective form of treatment for people with long standing and very entrenched addiction issues, particularly those people who have already tried to get well and not managed to maintain recovery. This can sometimes be available on the NHS and is more accessible privately than many people realise.
Remember you cannot cure your parent’s addiction or alcoholism.
Private rehab options are available across the UK, with lots of different providers working to ensure there is variety to meet individual need.
Understanding what is available, what’s involved and being able to talk to your parent about it, may help them to accept help.
Accessing rehab privately means bypassing long waits for treatment, allowing your mum or dad some control and choice over the environment where they stay and 24 hour support in recovery.
If you are worried your parent has an addiction issue don’t hesitate to contact us.
At Port of Call, we help people to access detox, rehab and addiction treatment.
Many of the treatments we organise begin with a phone call from a son or daughter who is worried about their parent and wants to do something to help.
If you are worried about your mum or dad and want to discuss the options – get in touch. We won’t judge you or them. We work with people facing addiction every day. Whatever your situation, we’ll be happy to talk to you and we’re available 24/7.
We’re specialists in UK rehab options and can advise you on alcohol rehab in the North West, drug rehab in the North West and other addiction support services in the area.