Going to Rehab as a Parent
While the idea of a parent being addicted to drugs or alcohol may be difficult to swallow, the reality is that children across the nation are affected by parents and addiction.
Pregnant Mothers and Parents With Substance Use Disorders
Studies done across the country by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show that about one in 20 women who enter rehab programs are pregnant, with that number doubling in some states. There’s an overwhelming library of evidence to support the fact that women who abuse drugs during pregnancy open their families up to risk of issues such as:
- Prenatal birth defects and lifelong health issues for the baby
- An increased risk of violence in the home and sexual abuse
- Children of addicted parents developing a substance use disorder later in life
Children of parents who use illicit drugs are at an increased risk of being placed into the foster care system as well, with nearly one in five American children under a year old tragically being removed from the home in 2019.
People of all ages are affected by the presence of an addicted family member, and the entire family may benefit from the emotional support offered by a focused therapy program like family counseling. Considering that one in eight kids lives with at least one parent in the home with a substance abuse disorder, it’s important to break the silence. A supportive environment to open up and discuss issues like adverse childhood experiences can create the possibility of recovery for the whole family unit.
Behavioral and Emotional Problems in Adult Children of an Addicted Parent
Adult children are just as susceptible to the mental health issues like anxiety and depression that can occur if a parent’s addiction spirals out of control in childhood. When a parent’s substance abuse becomes severe enough to warrant rehab, they may lash out at older children for mentioning the idea, leaving relatives to enable the behavior by remaining silent for fear of abuse. This leads to concerned relatives forming their own negative patterns of self-doubt and shame that exacerbate the issue of a “silent” epidemic.
An older child of a drug-addicted or alcoholic parent is especially vulnerable to engaging in drug use, having learned few healthy ways to cope with their parent’s struggle and other stressors. If you feel yourself following in your parent’s footsteps of alcohol abuse or another substance addiction, know that there are drug and alcohol addiction programs that can encourage intergenerational healing, helping the whole family grow with unified addiction treatment.
Overcoming the Stigma of Substance Abuse
In our society, most people tend to have a harsh opinion of parents who live with a substance or behavioral addiction. Although addictions can often be regarded as asymptomatic brain conditions, the damage caused by an inability or lack of desire to change supersedes any physiological explanation. People need access to recovery programs, especially parents who have the extra burden of vulnerable family members to care and provide for.
One compounding issue of the stigma of being a parent who uses illicit drugs is the possibility of facing judgment, accusations and legal implications from the effect their behavior has on their children. For this reason, parents often discourage children from seeking aid from other family members and friends.
In the U.S., prescription drug addictions are becoming more prevalent, with 14.8% of people misusing prescription drugs such as painkillers and sedatives in 2020. It’s no surprise that many parents experience compounded addiction issues from their prescription drugs.
Prescription drug abuse might appear to be socially acceptable and safer than heavy drinking, but in reality, it poses more dire risks to the user, as alcohol poisoning doesn’t cause nearly the same rates of death as prescription medications do.
If you’re a parent becoming concerned about the way you use your prescribed medicines or abuse alcohol or other drugs, reach out to Behavioral Health Centers to learn about our treatment centers, outpatient rehab and other programs today.
Treatment facilities that provide services to mothers and fathers who abuse substances tend to offer a variety of both experiential therapy and evidence-based therapy choices, such as art therapy and family therapy, as well as referrals to community support services for affected family members. Individual talk therapy, the standard for long-term recovery care, is offered to patients as well as to any family member who wants to participate.
Help Is Available for the Families of Addicts
Having a family member who suffers from addiction but refuses your attempts to help makes the pain worse. You might feel you’ve tried everything for your needs. Even if your partner continues to use drugs, deciding to seek help is probably the best choice to make to stop further emotional abuse by the addicted person.
Help is available for people with a history of active addiction as well as for parents and partners who refuse to seek treatment for their alcohol or drug addiction on their own. Peer support groups are offered for people in the community facing drug abuse in their family, as well as through rehab programs that have family programs for current and Alumni clients.
How Parental Substance Abuse Affects Children
A child of addicted parents is called an invisible victim because they face an exorbitant amount of stress from their caregiver’s drug abuse problems, often going unseen by larger society or even other family members. They constantly face problems that draw attention to the parent with an addiction or mental illness as well, often causing them to feel left behind in their own lives.
If these negative feelings are experienced consistently while going through childhood, puberty and adolescence, there can be severe negative consequences, up to and including developing a substance abuse disorder themselves. Therapy sessions are needed to help teach young people how to cope with the child abuse that occurs when a family addiction is present, to prevent it affecting their lives in the future.
Family-Friendly Options for Drug Addiction Treatment
If a parent decides to seek addiction help, they must find treatment options that best serve their family. An array of rehabilitation services are provided at Behavioral Health Centers, including intensive counseling programs for families affected by addiction. Some programs, more commonly women’s rehabs, provide space for women to bring their children with them, but this option is not common and spaces may often be unavailable.
An intensive outpatient rehab program is often a great solution for parents trying to juggle the demands of their family members’ needs and other responsibilities such as careers while breaking free of substance use dependency.
Meeting the Needs of Parents in Substance Abuse Treatment
Parental care is a complex and challenging process that requires multiple forms of assistance — a proverbial village of support. In addition to therapy, they may need psychosocial services, including transportation and affordable housing. Those affected may also need medical care or legal representation, particularly in the case of domestic violence, and could benefit from an addiction referral service.
If you or your loved one lives in or wants to visit the coast and abuses drugs or alcohol, reach out to the Behavioral Health Centers treatment facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Our friendly addiction experts are standing by to help answer all your questions and verify your insurance.