How to Cope with an Addicted Parent

Mar 22, 2023 | Addiction, Family Issues, Helping a Loved One

Dealing with a parent who is struggling with addiction can be a difficult and emotional experience. It can be difficult to understand what your parent is going through, and you may feel helpless, frustrated, or angry. You may even feel resentful as you feel robbed of a traditional parent-child relationship. 

Many children of addicts end up having to parent their parents. This can be draining, overwhelming, and plain discouraging. However, it is important to remember that addiction is a disease and that your parent is not intentionally causing harm to themselves or to you. 

Research shows that roughly 1 in every 8 children in the United States live with a parent that suffers from substance abuse. This staggering number, while disturbing, illustrates how common this experience is. For this reason, there is a wide range of support, outlets, and professionals that can help you navigate this challenging experience.

Remember To Protect Yourself

Growing up with an addicted parent can be incredibly challenging and can take a significant toll on your mental and emotional well-being. It’s important to remember that you are not responsible for your parent’s addiction and that it’s okay to take care of yourself first. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself when you have an addicted parent:

  • Seek support: It can be helpful to connect with others who have had similar experiences. This could be through a support group, therapy, or talking to friends or family members who can provide a listening ear and understanding.
  • Practice self-care: Make sure to prioritize your own physical and emotional well-being. This can include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and finding activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
  • Set boundaries: It’s important to establish boundaries with your addicted parent to protect yourself and your own well-being. This may mean setting limits on how much time you spend with them or setting rules about what you will and will not do to keep from enabling their addiction.
  • Seek therapy: Working with a therapist can be a helpful way to process your feelings and learn coping skills for dealing with the challenges of having an addicted parent.
  • Take breaks: It can be emotionally draining to constantly be around an addicted parent. It’s important to take breaks and take care of yourself. This might mean spending time away from home or finding a quiet place to relax and recharge.
  • Find a supportive person: It can be helpful to have another person outside of your family that you can trust and confide in. This could be a teacher, coach, family friend, or therapist.
Understand The Effects

It is also crucial to understand the effects of growing up in an environment such as this. Gaining insight into how this affects both your body and mind can give you some power back and guide you as you work to cope. Growing up with a parent who struggles with substance abuse can have a significant impact on a child’s development and well-being. These challenges can be difficult to overcome, but it is important to remember that every person has the capacity to heal and grow.

One of the most significant effects of being raised by a parent with substance abuse issues is the impact on the child’s emotional and psychological development. Children who grow up in this environment may experience a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, shame, and insecurity. They may also struggle with trust issues, as they may feel that their parent is unreliable or unpredictable.

In addition to the emotional impact, children of parents with substance abuse issues may also face financial and practical challenges. Substance abuse can often lead to financial instability and an inability to provide for basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. This can create an unstable and chaotic home environment that can be stressful and overwhelming for children.

The effects of being raised by a parent with substance abuse issues can also extend into the child’s relationships and social development. Children may struggle to form and maintain healthy relationships with their peers and may feel isolated or ostracized. They may also face challenges in school and may struggle to focus and perform to the best of their ability.

It is important to recognize that the effects of being raised by a parent with substance abuse issues can be significant and long-lasting. However, it is possible to overcome these challenges and to find healing and growth. Seeking support from a mental health professional can be a helpful step in addressing these issues and finding healthy ways to cope. It is also important to remember that you are not alone and that there are resources available to help you navigate these challenges.

How You Can Help

As a child of an addicted parent, it can be heartbreaking and frustrating to watch them struggle with addiction. It’s natural to want to do everything in your power to help them overcome their addiction and get the treatment they need. However, convincing a parent who is addicted to seeking treatment can be a difficult and emotional process. Some of the ways you can help your parent are:

  • Show Them Love And Support. It’s important to let your addicted parent know that you love and care about them and that you want to help them through this difficult time. Avoid criticism or judgment, and instead, offer understanding and compassion.
  • Educate Yourself About Addiction. The more you understand about addiction, the better equipped you will be to help your addicted parent. Research the different types of addiction treatment available, as well as the benefits and potential challenges of each.
  • Talk To Your Addicted Parent About Their Addiction. Having a direct and honest conversation with your addicted parent about their addiction can be difficult, but it’s important to express your concerns and offer your support. Avoid lecturing, but instead, listen to their perspective and try to understand where they are coming from.
  • Encourage Them To Seek Professional Help. Addiction is a complex and often difficult condition to overcome, and professional treatment can be incredibly effective in helping a person overcome their addiction. Encourage your addicted parent to seek help from a licensed addiction treatment professional, such as a therapist or counselor.


Although it may be difficult, it’s important to be patient and understanding as you try to encourage your addicted parent to seek treatment. Addiction is a difficult condition, and it can take time for a person to be ready to seek help. Don’t give up. Recovery is often a process that takes time. 

Remember that you are not alone and that there are resources available to help you and your parent. Seeking support from others and taking care of yourself can help you navigate this difficult situation. Many children and young adults are faced with parents that suffer from substance abuse, and although this is a difficult and painful upbringing for most, it is possible to heal as well as help your parent if they are willing.

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you have a family member who is struggling with addiction, New Dimensions can help.  We treat both mental health and substance abuse issues.  We have outpatient rehab programs for alcoholism and drug addiction and also provide intervention services for those families who are actively working to get their parent or loved one into treatment.

To learn more about our treatment programs, contact us at 800-685-9796 or visit our website at  You can also learn about additional outpatient psychotherapy services at