How to Help Your Adult Child With Addiction

Having an adult child with substance use disorder can result in a number of challenges for parents. You may struggle with worry, confusion, and self-blame. Most importantly, you may question how to go about helping your adult child with addiction.

Read on to learn more about how to identify addiction in your child, how to help them find treatment, and what to expect while they are in rehab.

What Is Substance Use Disorder? How to Identify Addiction Signs in Your Adult Child

Substance use disorder is another term for addiction. It is a chronic condition where a person continues to compulsively use a substance, like alcohol, prescription medication, or an illicit drug, even though it has negative effects on their life.1 For people with substance use disorders, substances can negatively affect their health, relationships, and ability to function.

Being aware of the signs and symptoms of substance use disorder can help you identify if your child is struggling with one. Substance use disorders are diagnosed by professionals based on the presence of several diagnostic criteria.

If your adult child has a substance use disorder, you may also notice other signs like:2

  • Changes in weight or appetite.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns.
  • Spending time with different friends.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Conflict with family and friends.
  • Inconsistent school or work attendance.
  • Drop in school grades or job performance.
  • Less interest in hobbies or activities that they once enjoyed.
  • Decreased motivation.
  • Changes in personality without an explanation.
  • Behaving secretively or suspiciously.
  • Sudden mood changes.
  • Seeming anxious or paranoid without reason.

How to Help Your Adult Child With Addiction

Mother consoling daughter with arm around herSome parents experience feelings of guilt or shame when their adult child is dealing with a substance use disorder. It is important to remember that it is not your fault. There are many different factors that contribute to a person’s risk of developing an addiction.3

Rather than blaming yourself, try to put your energy into helping support your child in recovering from substance use disorder. Some ways to help your adult child with addiction include:

  • Taking a supportive and non-judgmental stance.
  • Helping them find an addiction treatment program.
  • Assisting in scheduling and getting to appointments.
  • Attending therapy sessions and support groups together.
  • Abstaining from drugs and alcohol in front of your child.
  • Learning more about addiction and recovery on your own.

Enabling vs. Helping Your Son or Daughter With Addiction

Many parents wonder how they can be most helpful to their adult children as they recover from substance use disorder. Although parents may be trying to help, some unintentionally enable their children. Enabling is any behavior that prevents a person with a substance use disorder from experiencing the consequences of their actions.4

Parents who enable an adult child may:

  • Deny that a problem exists.
  • Give an adult child money to buy drugs or alcohol.
  • Assist a child in paying for other things so they can use money for their addiction.
  • Make excuses for their behavior.
  • Fail to maintain healthy boundaries and limits.
  • Neglect their own self-care.

Helping, on the other hand, allows a person to experience the natural consequences of their actions while also conveying empathy and support.

Parents who help and support an adult child may:

    • Recognize a problem.
    • Express love and concern.
    • Allow a child to experience natural consequences for their actions.
    • Maintain healthy boundaries and limits.
    • Attend to their own self-care.
    • Offer to help with getting into treatment.


You can view the rest of the Talking to a Loved One with Addiction series here.

How to Help Your Adult Child Get Into Drug and Alcohol Rehab

You cannot force an adult child to go to rehab unless they are a danger to themselves or others. Beyond that, coercing your child to get help may backfire and cause more resistance.5 Instead, you may be able to help your adult child get into rehab by supporting and encouraging them.

Here are some tips on how to encourage your son or daughter to get treatment:6

  • Talk to your child privately and without distractions.
  • Speak directly about your feelings and cause for concern.
  • Listen openly and acknowledge your adult child’s feelings.
  • Offer to assist them in finding and getting treatment.
  • Practice patience. It will likely take more than one conversation to get your child to accept help. Continue reaching out to them and offering your support.

Finding a Treatment Center for Your Adult Child

Each person has their own needs, so finding the right treatment center for your adult child is important. Consider the following things when looking for a treatment center:

  • Location of the facility
  • Level of care that is right for your son or daughter
  • Types of therapy offered
  • Health insurances accepted
  • Amenities available
  • Whether the program is accredited by an organization like the Joint Commission or CARF

Admissions navigators at Recovery First are available to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the treatment admissions process. Call today.

How to Help Pay for Your Adult Child’s Stay in Rehab

There are many different ways to pay for rehab. One way to pay for Florida addiction treatment is to use health insurance. Recent legislation has expanded substance use treatment coverage and made it more accessible for many Americans.7

Recovery First is in-network with several different insurance companies. To verify your adult child’s health insurance coverage, complete our secure .

In addition to insurance, there are other ways to pay for your child’s treatment program. You can choose to finance some or all of the costs of treatment or set up a payment plan. An admissions navigator can help you and your son or daughter determine the payment method that works best.

What to Expect When Your Child Goes to Rehab

Many parents wonder about what to expect in rehab when their adult child agrees to get help. When a person commits to treatment at Recovery First, they will be evaluated by a medical professional, who will ask questions about their length and severity of substance use.

Based upon this information, they will make a recommendation for the level of addiction treatment that is best for the person.

People sitting on chairs in a circle during group therapyPeople may encounter various levels of care and recovery settings, depending on the treatment needs of your loved one. Examples include:

At Recovery First in Florida, all levels of care are available, making transitions between levels a comfortable and convenient experience for patients. The length of treatment ranges depending on a person’s needs. For some, a short stay in rehab is appropriate. Others may receive more benefits from a month-long rehab program or long-term addiction treatment.

While in treatment, your child will participate in individual and group therapy. Recovery First uses evidence-based therapies, which are therapeutic approaches that have been shown to be effective in research studies.8

What Should You Do While Your Adult Child Is in Rehab?

Helping a loved one with addiction, especially your child, is difficult. There are steps you can take while your son or daughter is in rehab to help support their recovery, such as:

  • Attending visits at the treatment center.
  • Participating in family therapy sessions.
  • Remaining positive and supportive.
  • Encouraging your child to remain in treatment and to develop a relapse prevention and aftercare plan.
  • Asking how you can help support their relapse prevention and aftercare plans.
  • Offering to attend a recovery support group together.

Participating in family therapy is especially important while your son or daughter is in treatment. At our drug and alcohol treatment center in Southern Florida, we host a 2-day family program each month. During this time, you will have an opportunity to meet with your adult child and their therapist to work on ways to support their recovery.

Prioritize Self-Care

In addition to helping your son or daughter, it is also important to take care of yourself. You may consider attending your own therapy to help cope with your child’s addiction.

Support groups for family members like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are also available. These groups connect you with other family members coping with a loved one’s addiction.

As a parent, knowing how to help an adult child with addiction can make a tremendous difference. Being careful not to enable, helping them find a treatment program, and attending therapy and support groups together are all ways to help support their recovery.

Recovery First offers a comprehensive addiction treatment program near Ft. Lauderdale Florida. Call us today at to learn more.

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When contemplating the costs of addiction treatment for yourself, child, or loved one, consider the costs, or consequences, of “things as they are now.” What would happen if the substance abuse or addiction continued? Rehab doesn't have to be expensive. We accept a variety of health insurance plans, VA benefits and more.