Seeing someone you love suffer from an addiction is always difficult, both for you and for the entire family.
When the person suffering is your own parent it can be even more complicated. If you or someone you know is struggling with a parent who is addicted, it’s important to remember that there are professional resources you can turn to for help. For teens without a lot of legal power, involving an addiction treatment facility is often the best way to intervene in an adult’s addiction.
Regardless of your own age, the idea of your mother or father facing an addiction can be incredibly upsetting. They are supposed to be the people you rely on for guidance and loving care throughout your life, but that's easy to lose if they're abusing drugs or alcohol. Over 28 million Americans have parents who are alcoholics. 11 million of them are minors. How are those minors expected to take care of themselves? Those numbers pose a significant problem in the United States for our youth, who have few options for responding to addiction in the home. Because the disease of addiction is known to have a genetic component, this statistic is even more troublesome. If it's the child's parent that's addicted, he or she won't be fully present to raise them in a loving, healthy environment that deters the natural risk factors that the child will fall victim to the same disease later in life. So how can these children seek help, or help themselves?
Addiction Education in the Home
Education is the answer. There are vast libraries of resources available online to learn everything there is to know about addiction that can help you understand what's going on with your parent. This goes for young people as much as any adult. The more a child or teenager understands that their parent isn't behaving this way on purpose, and that there is need for serious medical attention, the better chance they have to understand that the addiction is not their own fault, a psychological reaction common to children dealing with traumas in the home. Children should not blame themselves for their parents’ actions, but they often do, and the resulting emotional weight can lead to more serious mental health conditions.
Ultimately, a child cannot change the situation present in the home or force a parent to address addiction. What they can do, however, is be present and available for support and assistance. They can be supportive of recovery and encourage the parent to seek professional treatment for the addiction by gathering educational resources and contacts that may be helpful. A teen who is alone with an addicted parent should seek help from other adults, either in the family or close community, that can intervene and help with getting the parent to treatment.