Addiction is devastating for everyone involved, but even harder when it’s your own child. Parents carry a heavy burden of knowing that another life depends on their actions and guidance.

While it’s true that parents influence their children’s choices, behavior, and mental health, they are not responsible for certain aspects of their personality, health, or psychological and physiological predispositions.

With young children, it’s much easier to control their behaviors and protect them. Once they’re older, however, you lose that ability. Their choices are their own, and you are only there to provide advice and guidance.

For the parents of an addict, that burden can be overwhelming. In order to provide support and help your child overcome their addiction, you need to address your own emotions, understand your child’s needs, and learn your options.

Understanding Addiction

You may understand the stressful and disruptive effects that your child’s addiction has on your life, but what about theirs?

Addiction is complex, and many factors play a role in its development. Before choosing to address the issue with your child, it’s important that you research extensively and gain a true grasp of what you—and they—are dealing with.

In addition, research gives you an idea of how to approach them and what options you can offer. Don’t allow shame to get in the way of answers.

Stop Enabling

Your love for your child, despite their problem, may cause you to make some decisions that only further their addiction. They may come to you for money or to get them out of trouble, but choosing to help keeps them from realizing they need to change their behavior.

Unfortunately, cutting off support, financial or otherwise, may be met with anger and aggression. This decision can be emotionally draining and difficult, but doing so forces them to acknowledge their problem and take steps toward changing it.

Let Go of Your Guilt

You play a major role in shaping your child’s behavior and personality, but it’s not that simple. Any mistakes you’ve made in the past, real or perceived, can’t be changed now.

You and your child need focus on the present in order to move forward and address the current issues. No amount of “what if” and “if only” will change the past.

Acknowledge Their Choice

You no longer have control over your child’s life. Getting clean and sober is their decision, and theirs alone. You can’t force them to change, but only offer them the tools and support to seek help.

In addition, you are not to blame for your child’s choices. Regardless of what you may or may not have done, they need to take responsibility for their own actions and behaviors. Though they may try to blame you, remember that you are not responsible for their addiction.

Discuss Their Options

There are a range of complex emotions that take place in the face of a loved one’s addiction—anger, guilt, shame, grief—so it’s important to stay rational when you approach them about treatment. Allowing any of these emotions to overshadow your discussion will only alienate them further.

Your child may not be willing to acknowledge their problem, or they are too overwhelmed to know where to begin. This is your opportunity to discuss real answers and options.

Coping with a child’s addiction is stressful for everyone involved, but there is hope. Consult a professional to discuss interventions, detox and rehab treatments and facilities, and sober living environments. For more information, visit us at