How Can You Support Your Child Through Their Addiction?

Sending your child to drug or alcohol treatment is a tough decision, but it may be necessary to them recover from addiction.1

This page will provide an overview on substance use disorder (SUD), information on how to recognize addiction, and tips on helping a son or daughter with addiction get the treatment they need.

Understanding Your Adult Child’s Addiction

Addiction is a chronic—but treatable—condition characterized by compulsive and ongoing drug-seeking and using behaviors despite serious negative consequences.2

People sometimes mistakenly believe that someone who is struggling with substance abuse should just be able to stop using drugs or alcohol through willpower alone, but this is often not the case. The brain changes that occur due to addiction can make it very challenging (and sometimes dangerous) for someone to quit without proper help.2

Knowing the early signs of SUD can be invaluable in helping your child with addiction. You might observe certain behavioral signs of substance use, such as:2,3

  • Frequent or sudden change in friends, especially to a group that you don’t know or approve of.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Being uncommunicative with you or other family members.
  • Unusual, inappropriate, aggressive, or violent behavior.
  • Sleeping more or less than usual.
  • Lack of self-control and motivation.
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Giving up activities they once enjoyed.
  • Poor grooming and self-care, which may indicate low self-esteem.
  • Making excuses for their unacceptable behavior or becoming angry when you ask about it.
  • Stealing.
  • Secretive behavior, such as making whispered phone calls or sneaking around.

If you’ve noticed several of these signs, it might be time to seek help for your child’s addiction.

My Do I Talk to my Adult Child About Their Addiction?

You can play an important role in helping your adult child with addiction get the help they need to stop the cycle of drug or alcohol abuse; however, knowing how and when to start the conversation can be difficult.

Some things to consider when talking to your adult child about addiction include:4,5,6

  • Arranging to speak to them during a quiet time when they are calm, sober, and not distracted by other activities.
  • Avoiding confrontational interventions; there is no evidence that they work, and they may even make matters worse.
  • Talking to them in a direct, loving, and non-judgmental way.
  • Giving them space and time to talk about their feelings and struggles. Actively listen to them and show empathy.

How Can I Help Get My Adult Child into Rehab for Substance Abuse?

If your child is an adult, you cannot force them to enter treatment. However, you may be able to influence them to make the right decision on their own.

Consider:4,5,7,8

  • Encouraging them to talk to a doctor. A medical professional can conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine your child’s treatment needs and provide referrals to rehabs. Your child may not want to hear what you have to say, but they might be willing to listen to a professional. Let them know that you can help them arrange the appointment and offer to accompany them.
  • Avoiding enabling. This means not engaging in behaviors that allow them to escape the consequences of substance use, such as calling in sick for them and paying their bills or legal fees. Experiencing the full weight of these consequences may help them recognize they need professional help.
  • Offering to help them research treatment options. Call to learn about care at Laguna Treatment Hospital in Southern California or use the online directory provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) to find more facilities across the country.
  • Considering a sober escort. This is a person who can help your child safely get to treatment and appointments if they are unable to do so on their own.
  • Offer financial support for addiction treatment, if you can do so. This is not enabling an addiction, it is addressing and treating it.

The treatment admissions process at Laguna Treatment Hospital is simple. You can instantly  online and learn more about payment options, our facilities, and the types of addiction treatment by calling our confidential helpline at to discuss your child’s problem. An admissions navigator will ask questions to get to know your child’s needs so we can create a customized treatment plan. The next step will be to arrive at the rehab so your child can start treatment.

What Your Adult Child Can Expect in Rehab

The appropriate treatment setting and course of action can vary based on a person’s specific needs, but treatment should be personalized based on your child’s substance abuse as well as any medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.1

Treatment can take place in a variety of different levels of care.1 Your child might start the recovery process with medical detox and then transfer to inpatient rehab. The necessary duration of treatment (i.e., short-term rehab, 30-day rehab, 60-day rehab) varies depending on their unique needs.1

Rehab primarily involves evidence-based types of addiction therapy that help your child build the skills they need to remain in long-term recovery; most people need more than just detox, which mostly functions to stabilize someone through withdrawal.1

Treatments your child may receive in rehab include:9,10,11,12,13

  • Behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management (CM), or motivational enhancement therapy (MET). These help patients change behavioral patterns that lead to substance use, and teaches them healthy coping, stress management, and relapse prevention skills.
  • Medication-assisted treatment, (MAT), which utilizes medication combined with counseling and behavioral therapies. MAT is primarily used to help people struggling with addiction to alcohol or opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers.
  • Peer support, provided through the Community Reinforcement Approach and 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which many people continue to attend after rehab ends.
  • Psychoeducation, in which patients learn about SUD and addiction treatment, improving adherence to treatment programs and the various coping strategies practiced in behavioral therapy.

How to Help Yourself Deal with Your Child’s Addiction

The stress of helping your child with addiction through their recovery can take a toll on your own mental health. There are different steps you can take so you’re both better able to cope, including:14

  • Seeking support from community programs. These often offer assistance with food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, and more.
  • Seeking individual counseling to talk about your concerns and feelings.
  • Taking care of your needs and making time for yourself. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat right, rest, exercise, and talk to supportive friends and family.
  • Checking out our guide for parents of children with addiction for more tips and information.

Many family members of people struggling with addiction peer support beneficial. Support groups for families and friends of people struggling with addiction, include:

How to Navigate Life After Your Child Completes Rehab

Recovery is a lifelong process that doesn’t end when your child completes rehab. Near the end of treatment, your child should receive an aftercare plan that includes different forms of support, such as 12-step groups, alumni programs, or counseling.

Addiction is a chronic condition, which means relapse is not uncommon. If relapse occurs, it’s important to understand that it is not a failure, but it can mean that they may need more treatment or adjusted treatment.1 Remember that it’s not your fault if they relapse and that the success of their recovery does not depend on you.14

Some of the ways you can support your child (and yourself) include:7,14,15

  • Continuing to attend self-help meetings and encouraging your child to do so as well.
  • Avoiding substance use in front of your child.
  • Showing ongoing support, love, and encouragement and letting them know that you are proud of their recovery efforts.
  • Spending time together doing enjoyable activities that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.
  • Helping them identify and avoid triggers to resume substance use.
  • Helping them get back into treatment if they should relapse.

Treatment can help your child regain control of their lives and improve their health and wellbeing. No matter how bad things might seem right now, there is always hope. If you want to know more about how to help a grown child with addiction, please call to learn more about treatment options.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Let us help you get started with the rest of your life! Laguna Treatment Hospital is located in Orange County within easy reach of the entire Los Angeles metro. We are the premier chemical dependency recovery hospital in the OC. We offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.