Most of the available resources for opioid addiction are focused on helping parents with their children. However, there is not much available when it comes to children who need to help their parents. So, how do you help a parent who is addicted to opioids?
As a child, you might not feel you have the authority to step in and be the decision-maker. However, if you feel you can handle the situation, you should step in as soon as possible. Getting your parent the help they need, regardless of your age, is the best thing you can do. It also shows your parent that you care, even if they cannot see it at the moment.
It can feel impossible to start a conversation with your parent. Even so, here are a few tips you can use to help a parent who is addicted to opioids.
A Challenging Dynamic
It is important to remember that you have the right to want to help, to make things better. Feeling like you have to hide your parent and their addiction can negatively impact your friendships, relationships, and even your overall life.
Addiction is a cruel disease. Addiction can feel like an insurmountable problem, especially for a child whose parent cannot overcome it on their own (or they do not want to). Even worse, as a child, you do not feel like you have the authority to step in. Opioid addiction is especially difficult, as addiction can start from a simple prescription for pain medication. Even so, you have a right to a healthy, happy, productive parent, meaning you should do what you can to help them.
Starting The Conversation
What’s most important is to first recognize the signs that your parent might have a problem with opioids. Addiction is a disease that is characterized by a person’s life revolving around a substance. It’s not simply a battle of willpower, it’s an actual change that can only be overcome through treatment and counseling. Getting your parent to admit that opioids have become an addiction seems incredibly difficult, so be prepared for the conversation.
Surrounding your parent with people who love them and want them to get better, writing down your feelings and thoughts so you can control what you say, and knowing available treatment options like Suboxone are just a few ways that you can successfully approach the conversation. It is important to stay supportive and emphasize that you’re only addressing this because you love your parent and their addiction has become a concern for you.
Remember that you only want what is best for your family. You may have one conversation, or a series of conversations, so be prepared for any outcome.
Keeping An Eye On Yourself
During the process of addiction counseling and treatment, you need to take stock of yourself as well. Recognize the way that this process might be hard on you. It could be helpful to get a counselor of your own. Family therapy is also a great resource for helping a parent who is addicted to opioids. Bringing both the parent and the child together to talk about the addiction, as well as the underlying issues that this addiction has created in your family dynamic. Therapy can often seem too costly or out of reach, but many therapists offer sliding scale rates for clients who cannot afford their normal rates. If you are a student, most universities even offer free counseling through their health centers. There are online therapy services as well that are often a fraction of the cost of traditional, in-person counseling. The process of healing from the disease of opioid addiction can be as taxing on a child as it is for the parent so know that putting yourself first in these situations is not selfish, it is the responsible thing to do.
Healing A Fractured Relationship
Stay strong and know that there is hope for your parent; a life without addiction. There will be tough days, but as a child, you should be proud and encouraging of your parent’s efforts. Staying focused on the light at the end of the tunnel is important for both you and your parent.
This is their illness, not yours, so it is their responsibility to treat it. Providing positive reinforcement and counseling are two ways to get help. Helping a parent overcome their opioid addiction is entirely possible. Remember to talk with them, be open, remain positive, and bring in other adults who you may feel have more authority to help your parent with their treatment. As a young person, this can feel incredibly overwhelming, so take it step-by-step, always moving towards healing to ensure that your parent is there to watch you grow up.
If you feel you need more help, contact Fritz Clinic at (205) 877-8585 or by filling out our online contact form. We’ll do everything we can to give you the resources and help you need to help your parent addicted to opioids.