How to Deal with Addicted Parents

Start your road to recovery in a comfortable, serene, and compassionate space. Bright Futures Treatment Center offers you the opportunity to make a fresh start.

bbb logo
gold medal badge
florida department logo
ncadd logo
farr logo
organization member

As you already might be aware, Florida has a serious addiction problem. While this is dangerous in and of itself, the more pressing issue is the fact that many children have to deal with addicted parents. This exacerbates the entire issue, as children are introduced to addictive substances in one way or another at an early age. While some parents look into addiction solutions Florida has to offer, many do not. Living with an addicted parent can be extremely difficult to deal with, meaning that children need to find a way to understand and cope with the situation. In this article, we are going to go in-depth on what a child (or an adult) can do if they realize that their parents are addicted to a dangerous substance.

Warning signs of addiction

Addiction is not instant. There are many warning signs that your parents might be abusing a substance, be it alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit substances. Knowing to recognize these signs may allow you to act sooner and stop the addiction from taking root. Of course, this might not always be possible as you might have limited influence on your parents. Nonetheless, knowing that your parents have an addiction problem will allow you to take steps to correct the issue.

Some of the most common signs of addiction include:

  • Hiding drug use from friends and family
  • Needing more and more of the substance
  • Continuing to use the substance even after being advised against it
  • Inability to stop taking the substance
  • Losing interest in other things
person drinking alcohol
Parent addiction may sometimes look like fun, but it is extremely dangerous.

Depending on the substance, there may be other signs. Furthermore, as each person is unique, these signs may be difficult to spot. Some parents are extremely adept at hiding their addiction from their children, after all, and you may need to “delve” a bit further to get the answers you need. A prime example of this is someone that is addicted to Adderall. Adderall addicts may exhibit a sense of invincibility, intense well-being, as well as grandiosity. If you mention Adderall addiction rehab to such a person, they will just scoff at it, saying that they are perfectly fine. Other signs may include taking Adderall in “creative” ways, such as crushing and snorting it, being extremely fearful of not having enough Adderall, and spending a significant amount of time acquiring, using, or recovering from the drug. You will need to be watchful of these signs if you want to deal with addicted parents more easily.

Personality changes

The fact that there are so many addictive substances on the market further complicates addiction discovery. Therefore, the best thing you can do is try and search for distinctive changes in the personality of your parents. However, try to understand that these changes might come from having to deal with a difficult situation. Stress can mimic many of the addiction signs, after all. That said, stress can also lead people to start abusing a substance. In fact, most people turn to alcohol when they feel significantly stressed out. While this may not be a large problem initially, abusing alcohol over a long period of time can lead to addiction. When addiction takes root, the personality of your parent might change drastically. They may start prioritizing their addiction over everything else, inevitably leading to family discord.

The best way to deal with alcohol addiction is to seek professional help. However, many parents are painfully aware of the alcohol rehab center Florida costs and may be reluctant to seek treatment, fearing that they will jeopardize the family’s financial state. However, there are many ways to pay for addiction treatment, even if your parents do not have medical insurance. Seeking help is always the best option, as someone who is sober can turn things around in short order.

How parents’ addiction affects children?

The influence that a parent can have on their children is profound. It goes beyond genes, behavioral patterns, and values. Children also learn communication styles from their parents as well as their disposition to drugs. If a parent is a drug addict, the children are more likely to develop an addiction of their own at some point in their life. Then those children have children of their own and the cycle continues.

Aside from having an increased risk of addiction, children of parents who abuse addictive substances also experience worse performance in school, exhibit numerous behavioral and emotional problems, and usually have lower self-esteem than their peers. Due to these differences, these children are at a higher risk of verbal, physical, and even sexual abuse. Needless to say, children of addicted parents also have a tendency to develop depression and/or anxiety. Some children may also experience significant trauma during their time with their parents and even develop PTSD. The fact of the matter is that being addicted to any substance changes the way parents behave toward their children. This usually involves physical or psychological aggression that can be highly detrimental to the child.

person traumatized after having to deal with addicted parents
Having to deal with addicted parents can be a very traumatizing experience.

However, children are far from powerless even if they have to deal with addicted parents. A child can have an extremely powerful impact when it comes to overcoming the addiction of their parents. With the right resources and support services, even crack cocaine rehab can go smoothly! However, there is one big issue that usually stops children from taking action to help their parents overcome their addiction: Codependency.


Developing codependency with your addicted parent is one of the more “sinister” problems that may arise due to substance abuse. Basically, codependency is a form of emotional or psychological reliance that creates a one-sided relationship. Codependency is something that usually occurs once a child has fully grown up but it may happen even sooner. When a parent and their children develop a codependent relationship, their roles practically reverse. The children start taking care of their parents and trying to solve their problems. This process allows the parents to continue with their addictive habits while children develop tendencies that may stick with them for the rest of their life. It is quite common for codependent children to continue this behavior for the rest of their life, constantly ending up in similar relationships.

The primary problem with codependency is that it never actually solves anything. Instead of asking important questions such as does insurance cover alcohol rehab, children continue helping their parents feel better by enabling them to live a life of addiction. The more this state of things is allowed to continue, the greater the emotional toll on the children.

What it looks like to live with addicted parents?

Living with an addicted parent can be extremely hard. There are no two situations that are exactly alike, of course, but addiction in the family is never easy. Some people might feel embarrassed about their parent’s substance abuse while others may be angry or sad. In almost all cases, the children will be worried about the health and safety of their parents. Other feelings that children may experience include:

  • Finding it hard to relax or trust their parents
  • Feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious
  • Being worried for themselves or their siblings
  • Feeling that they have to become an adult
  • Being frustrated due to the parent’s unwillingness to change

Due to these feelings, many children will try very hard not to upset their parents by pointing out their addiction. They will simply try to stay out of their parent’s way, without speaking up and asking what their parents might need. Furthermore, the children may keep their feelings to themselves and take other actions to hide their parent’s addiction. This involves hiding what their life is like at home, missing school, acting like they don’t care, and avoiding having friends over. Only a precious few will look into Florida prescription drugs addiction treatment for their parents and take steps to convince the parents to seek treatment. However, even these children usually encounter numerous problems, such as financial issues, parent abuse, etc. While seeking treatment is preferable in all situations, there’s no denying that it can be highly problematic to do so.

person holding a "no comment" sign
Many children will try to hide their parent’s addiction.

Other ways in which family life might be affected due to parent’s addiction include:

  • Parents getting a divorce
  • Older siblings need to take care of the younger ones
  • Domestic violence, abuse, and neglect
  • Financial problems

How to deal with addicted parents?

While it may be extremely hard to deal with addicted parents, it is not impossible. There are certain things you can do to make the whole situation more bearable. While convincing your parents to seek treatment is the best way to overcome their addiction, it is usually not something that children can do on their own. Before you can be able to take that step, you first need to get yourself in a position from which you can help the best. To do so, you will want to do the following:

  • Find someone to confide in
  • Do not isolate yourself
  • Create a list of safe places
  • Write down emergency phone numbers
  • Create a journal
  • Partake in activities that you enjoy

These steps will help you build enough self-confidence and get past the fear of speaking up to your parents about their addiction. Furthermore, even if your parent ends up needing to attend an inpatient rehab Florida program, you will be able to take care of yourself for the time being. Basically, to help your parents overcome their addiction, you need to help yourself first. That being said, let’s see how you can do that.

Confiding in someone can help

One of the most common issues that children who are living with addicted parents face is the feeling that they are all on their own. To overcome this feeling, you will want to find an adult you can actually confide in. Ideally, this person will be someone who makes you feel valuable and also understands you. You don’t need to confide in a family member, either. You can confide in a neighbor or even a teacher if you feel like they will be able to help you. The simple act of speaking to someone else about your parent’s addiction can do wonders for your state of mind. Furthermore, your confidant may be able to help you search for viable treatment options such as oxycodone rehab, for example. This is particularly important if your parents are monitoring/limiting your internet access.

person talking to a child
Confiding in someone is usually the best first step.

There is always someone you can call

Remember, you are never alone. Even if you don’t have anyone who you feel you can confide in, you can always turn to specialized government agencies, such as 211 Florida – Your First Call For Help. Alternatively, you may get in touch with a local treatment center and talk to medical professionals there. Feel free to do so even if you only need to talk for a bit and get some advice. Calling a treatment center is not the same as committing your parents to therapy, after all.

Isolation is always a bad choice

Most children deal with addicted parents by way of isolating themselves from their peers. They might feel ashamed, embarrassed, or even frightened, all of which can lead to isolation and lying to their friends. However, this is an entirely wrong approach to take, as those times are when you need your friends the most. By isolating yourself, you are basically “giving in” to the growing dread and despair that your parent’s addiction creates. What you need is someone around you that makes you feel good about yourself, if only for a moment. While you don’t need to surround yourself with as many other children as possible, what you want to do is have at least one close friend of your age that you can have fun with. Sharing your situation with a peer can be extremely liberating and allow you to better cope with your parent’s addiction.

That being said, you will want to be careful as to whom you trust. Try not to “use” your parent’s addiction to get close to someone that might not be suitable to help. This is something that many children do, to their ultimate detriment. Before you choose who you want to hang out with, think of whether that person has your best interests in mind.

You may need a safe place

Addiction can make people do unpredictable things. Therefore, it is quite important that you have somewhere to go in a time of crisis. What you need to do is be prepared if any such situation occurs. To do so, you will want to create a list of all the places where you can go when the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan.

The safe places may include teen centers, the homes of friends or other family members, and even libraries and parks. What you need are places where you can “de-stress” from any issues that may arise due to your parent’s addictive behaviors. You may even want to talk to a local drug rehab Florida center and see if you can go there and talk to someone whenever a bad situation occurs. Most of the time (all of the time, really), they will be glad to help and provide you with a safe place to hang out.

a beautiful park
A park can be an amazing safe space to go to.

Keep emergency phone numbers handy

Aside from having safe places to go to, you need to be able to call someone immediately if a crisis occurs. Some of the numbers you might want to add to your proverbial speed dial include teen hotlines, emergency services, well-meaning neighbors, etc. Basically, if there is someone that you feel you can turn to in time of crisis, have their phone number handy.

You may also not want to keep these numbers on your phone, or at least make an effort of misdirecting them. When you have to deal with addicted parents, there are good chances that your phone will be monitored and that your parents will go through it from time to time. If they notice that you have any “suspicious” contacts, they might take the phone away from you which may prevent you from getting the help you need when you need it. Ideally, you will have the list of numbers in a safe, secret, location. Alternatively, you can simply rename the contact from “Teen Help Services”, to some of your friends’ names. However, you will still be running the risk of your parents actually checking the numbers, as toll-free numbers are usually quite distinctive.

Journaling can help you cope

Having to cope with your parent’s addiction can be extremely scary. One of the ways in which you can reduce that fear is by writing down your feelings in a journal of sorts. You don’t necessarily have to keep a paper journal, either. An online blog or any other means of expression will serve the same purpose. You can write songs, for example, or you can create art. The whole purpose of journaling is to slowly work through your fears by putting them into another medium. Furthermore, a journal will help you remember various situations and outcomes that can help you make better decisions in the future. The fact of the matter is that you will stumble from time to time when faced with a parent’s addiction, what is important is that you learn from those situations and find better solutions down the proverbial road.

Having fun is important

One of the most sinister aspects of addiction in the family is that it may seem impossible to simply have fun. Without fun, your life can slowly turn to one of anxiety, depression, and apathy. Therefore, you need to do your best to participate in any fun activities, even if you don’t necessarily feel like having fun. Anything that makes you happy and confident is an activity worth pursuing. You need to have some light in your life, after all, and having fun is the best way to distance yourself from all the problems you might be facing.

The best way to select activities to partake in is to consider your strengths. We all have certain gifts that make us good at something. Focus on those gifts, as you need to feel confident in something. By making sure that your mind is in the right place, you will be better suited to help your parents overcome their addiction. There are good reasons why almost any intensive outpatient program Florida has to offer features numerous fun activities for their patients. Having fun is what makes everything possible!

kid playing with dried leaves
Sometimes, having fun is the best coping mechanism there is!

That being said, it can be quite hard to have fun when you are facing such a difficult issue as addiction in the family. Before you can truly have fun, you may want to further understand the “7Cs of Addiction”.

Understanding the 7 Cs of addiction

The first half of the 7 Cs is all about understanding that you are not responsible for the addiction in any way. You did not ask to have to deal with addicted parents, after all. What you need to say to yourself when thinking about your parent’s addiction is that:

  • I did not cause it
  • I cannot cure it and
  • I cannot control it

After you fully understand that, it is time to understand the rest of the 7 Cs:

I can take care of myself by communicating my feelings, making good choices, and celebrating myself.

You can safely repeat this mantra as many times as you need. Better yet, you may want to print a card that has all the 7Cs on it and display it somewhere private. This will allow you to take solace in these words and know that you are not at fault and that you can “turn things around”. The purpose of the 7Cs of addiction is to allow you to:

  • Understand that addiction is a disease
  • Not blame yourself
  • Understand that you are not alone
  • Understand that you need to talk about it

Once you fully understand these important concepts, you will be in a much better spot when it comes to convincing your parents to seek treatment.

How to convince your parents to seek treatment

The best way to deal with addicted parents is to convince them to abandon their addiction entirely. To do so, they will most likely need to go through some sort of treatment. Unfortunately, most addicts will not recognize or be willing to seek treatment unless prodded in some way. This is where you can help.

child preparing to deal with addicted parents
Convincing your parent to seek treatment may require some help.

Convincing your parents that they need to undergo treatment is usually an extremely challenging process, one that you might not be able to accomplish on your own. With this in mind, we have prepared seven steps you might want to take in order to make this process at least a bit easier:

  1. Write down your feelings
  2. Get a professional to intervene on your behalf
  3. Ask others to participate in the intervention
  4. Find the best time for the intervention
  5. Always try to keep the conversation as calm as possible
  6. Write down your expectations
  7. Make sure that your parent follows through on their promises

Of course, you will also need to take several other factors into account, such as your parent’s disposition toward gatherings, the severity of the issue, and the feeling that you are betraying your parent’s trust. Before you start, make sure that you are in a good emotional state, as the entire process will be much easier that way. With that in mind, let’s see how these steps can help you deal with addicted parents.

Writing down your feelings

It is quite natural that any conversation that involves talking about addiction will also involve strong feelings. When emotions flare up, it can be quite difficult to stay on track. Therefore, what you need to do is write down your feelings on a piece of paper or on your mobile phone/tablet before you start the conversation. That way, you will have something to turn to when things inevitably get a bit rough. Your parents might try to manipulate you in some way, either by yelling, crying, or even blaming you for their issues. By having a way to reference your feelings and keep the conversation on what really matters (getting help), you will be able to endure the emotional onslaught.

Finding professional help

The fact of the matter is that talking to your parents about their addiction on your own is usually not a good idea. They do have a certain power over you, after all. That is why you may want to seek assistance from someone who is familiar with addiction interventions. Chances are that you already know people who are familiar with addiction interventions, they can be your school counselors, coaches, priests, rabbis, etc. The best person to lead the intervention effort would be someone that your parent knows and respect. However, even if such a person cannot be found, having a professional to support your efforts is highly recommended.

person taking notes on how to deal with addicted parents
You may also want to consult a professional therapist.

The more people around, the better

If you have to deal with addicted parents, chances are that there are other people that are affected, as well. Most commonly, the people you will want to be present at an addiction intervention are your close family members, but even neighbors, employers, or friends are a good choice. While it may be easy for your parent to “brush you off”, it gets exponentially more difficult the more people you have standing next to you. There’s strength in numbers, after all.

However, depending on your particular situation, you might want to be careful as to who you select to participate in the intervention. Sometimes, the presence of certain people can make your parents go into defensive mode and disregard much of what you have to say. Before you make the final list of people who you want beside you, consider the possible implications. Better yet, talk the entire thing through with your chosen intervention leader.

Find a time when your parent is sober

The best time for the intervention is when your parent is sober and clearheaded. While this may be difficult, depending on the circumstances, talking to your parent while they are drunk, intoxicated, or even hungover, can be of minimal use. Of course, if such a time is impossible to arrange, simply try to find a time when the effects of your parent’s addiction are minimized.

Try to be as calm as possible

If there’s one thing that you can expect to happen during an addiction intervention, it is that someone will get upset. What usually happens when children have to deal with addicted parents is that one person’s emotional flare-up leads to a chain reaction and everyone starts yelling. This helps no one, and it can have a significant detrimental effect. That is why you may want to prepare yourself ahead of time and understand that being calm is a conscious effort. If you manage to express your feelings in a calm and clear manner, you will be able to persuade your parent much more effectively.

a calm person
The calmer you are, the easier it is going to be!

Write down your expectations and state them clearly

Another very important thing is not to consider the intervention as simply a means of bringing the addiction issues to light. You need to have clear expectations of what you want to accomplish with the intervention. Before the intervention, you will want to ask yourself what is it that you want to accomplish. Once you decide on what the intervention goals are, write them down. Ideally, you will present these goals to your parent in a form of a recovery agreement, which they will sign.

While it may seem that these goals are simple, they are anything but. You may want to talk to your intervention leader and other people that you want to involve in the process and have them help you set the goals up.

Follow up on your parent’s promises

Promising to get sober and actually taking the effort to become sober are two very different things. When you confront your parent about their addiction, there is a good chance that they will promise just about anything to get out of the uncomfortable situation. They may also be fully willing to change but then find that their addiction prevents them from doing so. This is all perfectly normal. What you need to do is make sure that your parent follows through with their promises. To do this, you will need help from others, as you might not always be in a position to verify whether your parent is taking the necessary steps to recovery.

Having to deal with addicted parents is never easy. Whether you are a child or an adult, you can expect the entire process to take quite some time, energy, and effort. However, if you persist and follow the advice that we have given you, we promise it will be much easier!

Latest Posts

Contact Us