Guide for Children of Parental Addiction

Our biology has a lot to do with who we become, and we rely heavily on our parents to look up to. What happens when parental figures have developed unhealthy habits? Here at Unity BH, we understand the importance of helping children struggling with parental addiction situations.

Role Reversal: How to Help Your Parent

We can choose most of the things in our life. We choose what we eat, what we wear, what type of career path we want, etc. Something we cannot control, though, is who our parents are. Because of this, we may be faced with living with someone who has developed a substance addiction.

If this has happened to you, it can be one of the most difficult situations to overcome. The responsibilities your parents are supposed to be taking care of can oftentimes fall on you. This may include cooking, cleaning, taking care of your other siblings, and how you’re going to get to school. It can often feel like the roles are reversed, and you are taking care of your parent instead of the other way around.

What Are Some Factors of Addiction?

Many factors can contribute to the development of your parent’s addiction. A very large part is their biology. Addiction can be passed down through generations. Your grandparents may have struggled with addiction, and now your parents are doing the same.

Another very influential factor in their environment and the people they surround themselves with. They may have friends or family who started using illegal substances, so they tried it too. Your parents may have also developed this at a young age and just never received help for it.

How to Look Out for Addiction Signs

Signs of addiction aren’t always blatantly obvious. If someone has been using a substance for an extended period of time, chances are they’re good at hiding it. Their tolerance may also be extremely high, so they don’t seem any different when under the influence.

Physical Signs of Addiction

Physical signs of addiction will often be in their appearance. They may worsen over time as your parent becomes more dependent on a substance. Some physical signs of addiction can include:

  • Red eyes or bags under the eye
  • Constantly large pupils that do not change
  • Body odor or lack of personal hygiene
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Sunken in facial features
  • Pale or grey-colored skin

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

Behavioral addiction signs will be things that seem off or are different than how they’ve always acted. If your mom or dad has developed behavioral patterns that seem usual for them, chances are they may have developed an addiction disorder. Some things to look out for can include:

  • Avoiding responsibilities like going to work or paying bills
  • Loss of control of emotions or reactions to situations
  • Constant negativity towards themselves or others
  • Extreme anger
  • Development of depression

How to Talk to Your Parent About Their Addiction

Talking to a parent about their addiction can feel impossible. Because they are supposed to be the grown-up, they may act like nothing is wrong. They may also say you are too young to recognize or understand what is going on.

State the Obvious

The most important thing is to try to make them understand the severity of the situation at hand.  The longer their addiction goes unnoticed, the worse it may get. It is crucial to stand up for what you believe is the best option, which is addressing their addiction. Although they are supposed to be the “grown-up” it doesn’t mean they always make the right decision.

Reach Out to Another Family Member or Someone You Trust

They may deny that addiction has happened in the first place. In this case, it may be helpful to reach out to a loved one who can handle the situation. This could be other family members, friends, or even a teacher or coach you trust.

Everyone who wants to help your parent with their addiction can help plan an intervention. This is a meeting that allows everyone to sit down with the addict and address what has happened. You can share stories of how their addiction has affected you, as well as offer them resources to find help.

Seek Professional Help

If you have a parent that is suffering from addiction, it important to reach out to rehab such a Unity BH. Our highly trained medical and addiction specialists are available to answer questions and help develop a plan of action. We can give you access to different options for your parent’s recovery. Our goal is to help in any way we can.

The First Step Towards Your Parent’s Recovery

The first step towards your parent’s full recovery is to encourage them to enroll in our program. Depending on the severity of their addiction, we can determine which of our programs is the right fit for them. We also can work with their insurance to help cover some of the costs of treatment.

Medical Detox

Medical detox will be the first step towards recovery for your mom or dad before treatment officially begins. The intake process will help develop a comprehensive treatment plan which will assess and treat people’s specific needs. Individuals will go through an extensive process that will rid their body of the substance they have been abusing. This can take days to months to complete.

Their condition will be monitored around the clock to make sure no complications arise. Because medical detox can sometimes be extremely painful, they may be prescribed medication to help with this. Once the detox is complete they will be enrolled in either our inpatient or outpatient treatment program.

Inpatient Treatment

Our inpatient treatments are very intensive and require your parent to stay in our facility for a certain length of time. This will depend on their withdrawal symptoms, as well as the type of substance they are addicted to. Inpatient treatment allows them to stay in the facility with people going through similar situations. They will receive individual counseling, while also interacting with their peers.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment can sometimes be a better option for some of our patients. If your parent is currently in school or has a job, they can be eligible for this program. We offer this to those who want to keep somewhat of a normal schedule. Outpatient treatments allow them to travel to our facility every week instead of staying onsite. 

Different Types of Therapies

While in treatment, we will develop a customized plan for your mom or dad’s recovery. This can include many different types of therapies like family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and recreational therapies. We are also now offering telehealth therapy services. This is a great option if your parent wants to receive treatment at home. We perform all these therapies over the phone or video chat.

A therapy that is extremely beneficial in parent-child cases of addiction is family therapy. During family therapy, you will be able to explain to your parent how their addiction has affected you. You both can discuss different techniques and ideas to restrengthen your relationship. Once they graduate from our program, you can take these lessons into everyday life.

How to Break the Cycle

Because society views addiction so negatively, there is a stigma around asking for help. You may be scared to speak up. Breaking the cycle of addiction is extremely important not only for your parent but for you. The most important thing to remember is that nothing is going to get better if things stay like they are. 

At Unity BH, we want to change the mindset of addiction for this next generation. Our team wants to help kids understand that receiving help for an addiction disorder should be the new norm. You should also understand that you do not have to follow in the footsteps of your parents. Addiction does not have to be in your future if you choose it not to be. 

The Importance of Helping Your Parent With Their Addiction

The longer your parent sits with their addiction disorder, the more days they are wasting. They will continue on this path unless someone speaks up. Although it may be a scary thing to address, it may save your mom or dad’s life in the long run. Our staff at Unity BH wants to give you all the necessary tools to encourage your parent to receive help.

We want to lift the burden off your shoulders as a child watching their parent go through addiction. Please do not hesitate to contact us whenever you are ready. We are available through call or messaging, and can be reached at any time of the day. With your help, our staff will determine what plan is the best option for your mom or dad.

Get Help Now

Speak to one of our experienced and caring representatives at Unity Behavioral Health to learn about how our rehab programs can help your loved one defeat addiction.


24 Hr HELPLINE : 561-708-5295