How to Cope with a Parent Who Has Addiction

It is difficult for an individual to have a parent who abuses drugs. Such individuals, whether they are children or adults, tend to wonder whether it was their fault that caused their parents to turn to drugs, and essentially choose the habit of addiction over their child.

Accepting the Three “C’s”

Anyone who has a parent addicted to drugs must understand and accept that it is not their fault and that they are not responsible for the decisions their parents make. The Three “C’s” are the perfect way for an individual who has a parent with addiction to cope:




The child did not CAUSE the addiction. Children have a tendency to internalize their parents’  actions and can feel they are to blame. This is not the case. The actions of the addicted parent have roots in other causes, and no amount of better behavior on the part of the child in the past would have changed that.




The child cannot CONTROL the parents’ behavior. A parent with addiction must make their own decisions to stop using drugs and seek help.




The child cannot CURE the parent’s addiction. It is not the child’s responsibility to provide treatment to their parents. Starting on the path to recovery requires regular therapy and counseling from trained professionals.

The propensity towards alcoholism and drug addiction can be a genetic factor. The children of parents with addiction are at a higher risk of developing addictions themselves.

Getting the Right Knowledge

One effective way of helping a parent recover from an addiction is to learn all one can about the issue. A child who grew up with a parent addicted to substances might think that another substance is the only way for them to cope with that parent and reduce their own anxiety, depression or anger at the situation or the parent. Learning about substance abuse will help the child avoid the trap of starting to use substances, even if they are for legitimate reasons.

Very often treatment centers will have programs that involve the entire family to help them cope with the consequences of drug abuse. Studies show that those children who were able to survive growing up with an addicted parent did so with the support of a non addicted family member or

teacher or other key figure. Such children have been able to demonstrate higher levels of independence and social skills, as well as a more developed ability to cope with difficult situations.

There are many support groups that offer the children addicted parents with a safe place and supportive environment, such as Ala-Teen and Adult Children of Alcoholics. Being a member of these groups can help the child or the adult feel less isolated and reduce feelings of guilt and shame. Such groups clearly demonstrate the importance and benefits of having a support system in place.



Recovery is hard work but you don’t have to do it alone. Call The Villa to find out how we can support your goals for sober living.