Having an addict or alcoholic in the family can be stressful, but it can be even worse when it is your own son. Before you start blaming yourself, know that you are not alone, and there is a way out.
Learn Your Boundaries
Before you can begin to help a son on drugs or alcohol, you need to understand that becoming addicted and then recovering from addiction is a long and tumultuous journey that usually takes its toll on all parties involved. Parents love their children unconditionally, and this often turns them into enablers when addiction rears its ugly head. Understand, however, that you cannot fix this problem—only your son can. You must learn to let go and allow him to learn some lessons for himself. This is a daunting task for most parents as it is extremely difficult to sit back and watch your child lie, steal, and hurt his chances at a bright future.
Did You Know?
Mental illness and drug abuse go hand in hand. Sometimes, the mental illness is at the root of the addiction, and other times the addiction causes the mental illness.
Stop Enabling Him
Adults who are addicted to drugs or alcohol will normally look to their family for money to support their growing habit. Parents want to help their children, but helping your son financially during this period will not ultimately help him, you, or the rest of your family. Each time you give your son money or protect him from the consequences of his actions, you take away any reason he might have to actually change his behavior.
Once you begin to cut off financial support, you may see your son become aggressive toward you. For most addicts, this is just posturing. They will do anything they can to get the situation back to the status quo. But if you stand firm in your convictions, this will eventually change. Make sure that the rest of the family supports you and also holds back financial assistance or else the problem can continue. If you find it difficult to cut your son off right away, consider tapering off your financial support if he doesn’t take steps to clean up his act.
Take Care of His Family
If and when your son sobers up, there will be an aftermath to deal with. Depending on how severe the addiction is, he may not be able to support his family or take care of his children, and this is where you can make a difference.
Instead of helping your son financially, use your resources to get help for his family, including a spouse and children. If problems in the home make it dangerous for your grandchildren, call the state authorities to deal with the situation. Your son will be angry now, but when he comes clean he will thank you for keeping his family safe.
Did You Know?
According to the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center, only 10% of people who are mentally stable are addicted to drugs, compared to:
- 46% of schizophrenics
- 27% of people suffering from major depressive disorder
- 61% of people diagnosed with bipolar I disorder
Bring in a Professional
The best way to learn how to help your addicted son is to consult professionals who can help you put together a plan. You should never try to help your addicted son by yourself. Once you find the right professional, he or she can assess the situation and help you find treatment for your family and for your son. A professional can help you stage an intervention or simply find the right treatment facility to help your son get clean and sober.
A licensed professional can explain the different types of facilities available, including:
- State-run detox treatment programs
- Non-profit treatment facilities
- Private treatment programs
- Dual diagnosis programs
Dealing with a drug-addicted or alcoholic son can be devastating for a family, but there is hope.