Watching a child struggle with addiction is never easy. If you’ve got an alcoholic son, you’re probably living with constant stress, fear, and anxiety. Alcoholism can have a devastating impact on everyone in the home, and on everyone who loves the individual living with addiction.
Helping people help themselves is an incredibly daunting task. It’s also one that’s guaranteed to be worthwhile. With the right help, your son can comfortably make it through the withdrawal process. He can also learn more about the underlying causes of his addiction, and the best strategies for addressing substance use disorder directly at its source.
Far better than simply “going cold turkey” at home, professional addiction treatment provides targeted, needs-specific therapies. It also provides all of the trained medical support that’s essential for ensuring a safe detox and recovery. More importantly, professional programs for substance use disorder boast far higher rates of long-term success than any self-managed recovery strategy.
Supporting Yourself to Support Your Son
Like many parents of addicts, you may blame yourself for the problems that your son is experiencing. Guilt, shame, and regret are emotions that can be detrimental to both recovering addicts and their family members. For those living with substance use disorder, these and other negative emotions can lead to feelings of low self-worth.
As such, many addicts who desperately need help for their addictions often feel entirely unworthy of receiving it. This makes it important to avoid being judgmental and to recognize that your son likely has as much contempt for his behaviors as you do. For parents of addicts, guilt, shame, and regret can be catalysts for harmful, enabling behaviors. They can also keep parents emotionally stagnant and unconsciously committed to ensuring that things stay exactly as they are.
For these and other reasons, parents of addicts are often advised to seek treatment themselves. These secondary services for alcohol addiction are designed to help families recover from the trauma that alcoholism has caused. It also helps to establish behaviors and life habits that actually support and encourage the recoveries of their loved ones.
Whether you’ve got an alcoholic son who’s still a minor, or one who’s now a legal adult, there are a number of important steps that you can take to ensure that he gets the treatment he needs.
Getting Help for a Child Who Struggles With Alcohol Addiction
If you want to learn how to help your alcoholic son, you should start by helping yourself. Poor self-care when dealing with the alcoholism of a loved one can lead to enabling behaviors, emotional and physical fatigue, overwhelming stress, feelings of hopelessness, and more.
Although thinking about your own needs can incite feelings of guilt, as a parent, it’s actually one of the most critical steps to take. Overlooking your own needs will keep you from having the clarity of mind, resiliency, and patience that’s necessary for being an effective and thoughtful aide. Good self-care entails getting enough sleep, regularly exercising, eating well, and having solid strategies for managing your stress. These can include:
- Taking long walks
- Practicing yoga or meditation
- Joining a support group
- Establishing firm boundaries for allowed behaviors in your home
Your cognitive thinking abilities, immune system, and overall mood balance will improve as you start making your own well-being a priority again.
Prioritizing yourself will also make it much easier to identify any enabling behaviors that you’ve been maintaining. The most likely enablers in an addict’s life are parents, grandparents, and other trusted relatives whose opinions matter. While enablers can be anyone that an addict knows, they are usually people with strong emotional connections.
By putting your son’s needs first, you may have been paying his bills, providing money to support his habit, and covering other living and non-essential costs to your own detriment. Not only is enabling harmful to you, but it will keep your minor or adult child from experiencing the increasingly negative consequences of his actions.
According to research, one of the best ways to get a person to seek treatment for themselves is by allowing them to hit “rock bottom”. Your son cannot do this if you are always there to clean up after him, make excuses for him, or provide resources.
Learning to lovingly detach from your child is also a key part of this process. Loving detachment allows you to dissociate yourself from the responsibility of his actions so that this responsibility again becomes his and his alone. Understand that it is not your job to call in sick for your son, fight his legal or financial battles, or justify his behaviors.
By remaining loving in your detachment, you can present yourself as always being a reliable source of help should your son choose to seek it. When he gets ready to enter rehab, you can assist him in finding the right program, and in learning more about the available options for funding treatment.
Beyond this, however, all help should be dispatched on a completely as-needed basis, and with careful efforts to distinguish the difference between helping and enabling. Alcoholism isn’t easy on anyone. Detaching emotionally is a step towards establishing healthy boundaries and reclaiming your right to peace.
If your son is willing to enter treatment, you can reach out to the experts at Recovery Bay. Take a moment to consider the needs of your son. If your child began drinking due to chronic anxiety or depression, treatment for co-occurring disorders or comorbidities may be best. At Recovery Bay, we can address many dual diagnosis issues your son may be facing.
These are programs that address both substance use disorder and any secondary, underlying mental health issues that could be the cause of addiction. If your son has a low self-image, is dealing with past traumas, or has unresolved guilt, treatment centers that offer cognitive behavioral therapy may be the right choice.
Part of learning how to help your alcoholic son may include finding ways to get an adult to voluntarily enter rehab, or finding ways to commit an adult to involuntary care. In many states, proving that your child has an addiction and that he’s at risk of serious physical, mental, or legal harm, as a result, are both key steps in the involuntary commitment process.
If you have an adult son who’s struggling with alcohol addiction and need assistance in finding the right treatment options, we can help. Call us today at 833-991-2955.