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7 Tips for Mothers of Adult Addicts

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As the parent of an addict and or alcoholic it is not always abundantly clear how we can best help our struggling adult children. Once they are grown we must accept that not only can we not constantly supervise or control them, but also that it can prove to be significantly detrimental to their progress to even try. It is painful and confusing to bear witness to our adult kids’ self destructive behaviours and feel as if there’s nothing we can do about it. This precious life that you as a mother have brought into the world is now straying off course and you feel helpless, scared and responsible. The truth is there is a great deal we can do, but it will require patience, dedication, understanding, compassion and flexibility. For instance, you can check out the treatment facilities in Hollywood to find one suitable for your child.

1. Recognizing the Signs of Addiction

As shifts in demeanor and behaviour due to drug and alcohol dependency can vary in individuals, it isn’t always obvious when our adult children are caught in the grips of addiction. Erratic behaviour, mood swings, irritability and aggression or sudden changes in personality are among the more discernible signs of your adult child’s drug addiction. On the subtle end of the spectrum, symptoms that are attributable to the stress of everyday life can materialize. Lethargy, sleeping too much, and depression may fly under the radar as indicators.. If you start to detect these types of changes in behavioural patterns in your adult child, it may be worth it to learn about what’s going on in their lives and start a dialogue.

2. Understanding the Disease

Alcohol and drug addiction is now widely regarded as more than a mere series of bad habits and choices. Science has viewed addiction and the effects on the brain as a serious illness and chronic disease.  This complex field of research is sometimes controversial and not everyone is always fully on board with its findings. Friends, families, coworkers and those affected by the harmful behaviours of addicts and alcoholics might not be immediately ready to see this illness for what it is.

3. How to Approach the Topic

If you feel that your adult child might be struggling with addiction you are going to want to want to plan out how to talk to them without making them feel defensive, attacked, judged or condemned. You want to approach this as delicately as possible from a place of concern and understanding. Select a time and place when you won’t catch them off guard and let them know ahead of time that you need to talk to them about something that’s been on your mind. This will be hard and potentially uncomfortable for both parties at least at first, but with some effort you can avoid unnecessary pain and theatrics.

4. Effective Communication

Anticipate some discomfort and an initial period of reluctance to talk about the matter at hand. Speaking in “I” statements can be helpful. YOU want to express how your adult child’s addiction is affecting YOU and that you (their mother) want to help them through this. Instead of placing blame on them or highlighting everything they’ve done wrong, (this will only push them further away) you want to illustrate that you understand they are struggling, likely suffering and that you are here to try to help support them.  

5. The Role of Family

Some family members may be motivated and eager to help. Be it through emotional support, listening and giving advice or the assistance in planning an intervention. Others might not be so willing.  Anger and lingering resentments towards people who have harmed us (even a little bit) is a very human and understandable reaction. With the often baffling and inexplicable behaviour of adult children who are practicing addicts, it is not uncommon for personal relationships to be damaged, sometimes irreparably.  If this is the case with any members of your family, it may be prudent to avoid involving them, unless they feel ready and willing.

6. Seeking Support

Fortunately for the mothers of addicts, there is now a vast world of information and support available to aid in the recovery process. Not just for your adult children, but for you as well. Through al anon and various support organizations you can find others with the experience, strength and hope that they will be more than willing to share with you.  This is no easy task for a mother and the road to recovery for you and your adult child can be fraught with setbacks such as relapses and intense emotional pain. It is good to take care of yourself during this journey and fortunately there are many resources available to help guide you. It may also be wise to enroll your child in a sober living home for long-term support.

7. Maintaining Hope

No mother wishes to find herself in this position. Our babies have grown and we are no longer able to help them in the ways we used to when they were young. This feeling of helplessness alone can be distressing and overwhelming. It is tragic that so many mothers have found themselves without the knowledge or resources to persevere and evolve in their role of parenthood.  Stigma, shame and fear can lead to distance and loss of contact with our wayward adult child. It is important to maintain hope and keep our message of love and compassion at the front of our thoughts at all times. Especially when our adult child is suffering from addiction. With your dedication and support, your child can overcome this debilitating disease and the significance of your role can be massive.

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