• Dear Parents of Adult Children with Substance Abuse Disorder

    Substance abuse and co-occurring issues impact not only the individual but the whole family system. Often when issues become significantly problematic in early adulthood, a parents’ fears, emotions and innate drive to protect their adult child kicks into overdrive often leading to unhealthy codependency in an attempt to “fix” the issue and by taking control now that the issue has become “out of control”. 

    Recovery is a process, it has to be lead by the individual who is seeking to make the changes and only that individual can ultimately decide if they would like to move forward with whatever treatment approach they would like to attempt. Adults over the age of 18 have to be the ones to initiate this process to “book an appointment” and they can dictate whether a parent has “consent” to be involved or have no involvement what so ever. This is dictated by Federal law which all providers must adhere to in order to protect the confidentiality of individuals seeking care whether in counseling practices like us, hospitals or inpatient programs. 

    Parents in duress sometimes take very drastic measures to circumvent systems in place in order to “onboard” their loved one with starting counseling or going to an inpatient program. They are often disappointed and sometimes angry when programs realize they are not the actual client seeking care or that their loved one doesn’t want to follow through with an appropriate program for their needs that the parent had spent significant time finding and communicating with. Individuals with “active” substance abuse disorders may manipulate, lie, tell half truths, avoid, delay or miss appointments in an attempt to not engage with a program with the goal of  staying in the good graces of a loving parent who may be supporting them in some way.

    Parents’ should not go through this alone and fortunately resources are available in the community and often times at no cost. Al anon www.al-anon.org , Nar-anon www.nar-anon.org  provide free supports for parents’ and loved ones going through the same experiences using the 12 step model of recovery that many individuals use in substance recovery. If a group format is not your ideal approach you can seek out a Licensed Professional with an expertise with substance abuse issues to help educate, guide and process the emotions happening in the family system.                                                   


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