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How to Help an Addicted Parent and Convince Them to Go to Treatment

Addicted Parent

Addiction impacts the lives of millions of Americans. If you or someone you love struggles with this condition, you understand the toll it can take on every aspect of a person’s life. Addiction can cause significant harm to a person’s physical and mental health, lead to devastating legal and financial difficulties, and can put a strain on even the strongest relationships.

This is even more true if the person struggling with addiction is your mother or father. Having a parent who lives with substance abuse or addiction can be very emotional and often comes with many challenges. You may want to help an addicted parent but don’t know how to do so.

If your parent is struggling with addiction, you can help them get started in treatment by having a gentle, honest conversation about your concerns. We have put together a guide on how to have this difficult–but important–conversation.

Recognizing Your Parent is Struggling With Addiction

The first step in getting your parent the help they need is realizing that they are living with addiction. This can be difficult if you do not live with your parent or have regular, in-person contact with them. Many people hide or cover up the symptoms of addiction for months or years. By the time you recognize the signs, they may have been struggling with addiction for a long time. This is why it is important to watch for signs of addiction, including:

  • Taking medication for a longer period of time, more frequently, or in higher doses than prescribed
  • Needing to take more of the substance to get the same effect
  • Becoming secretive about their substance use
  • Falling behind at work or in daily responsibilities, such as paying bills, taking care of hygiene, or preparing meals
  • Isolating
  • Changes to sleep or appetite
  • Significant changes to mood or physical appearance
  • Financial or legal trouble

These signs may indicate your parent is struggling with substance abuse or addiction. The earlier the intervention, the more likely they are to have a full recovery from their addiction.

Why Are So Many Older People Struggling With Addiction?

About 2.5 million older adults struggle with addiction in this country.[1] But why is this population living with addiction at a surprising rate?

There are many factors that could lead an older adult to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. After 65, life changes significantly for many adults–and these changes can lead to emotional stress and strain. These may include:[1]

  • Adult children moving out of the house
  • Loss of partner
  • Caretaking for a sick partner and/or elderly parents
  • Increasing physical pain
  • Less socialization with friends and family
  • Decreased mobility and independence
  • Continuing to work past traditional retirement age
  • Financial instability

These life changes happen more frequently as people grow older, and many people turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the emotional or physical pain they bring. Older people also are more likely to abuse prescription pain medications. In the United States, people over the age of 65 makeup only 13% of the population but account for about 30% of all medication prescriptions.[2] Being aware of significant, stressful life changes can help you support your parent in their recovery from addiction.

How to Help an Addicted Parent

Having a conversation with your parent might feel uncomfortable or even overwhelming. The topic of addiction is surrounded by fear, stigma, and helplessness. Your parent might react with anger or shame, especially if they have been attempting to hide or cover up their addiction for a long time.

Make a plan to care for yourself as you navigate this emotional time. Keep in mind that addiction is a medical condition and remember that your addicted parent needs compassion–not judgment or anger.

Plan Ahead

Think about how you will talk to your parent about your concerns. Who will be there? Where will you have the conversation? What will you say? If you are having a hard time with this, consider hiring a professional intervention specialist who can guide you through this difficult conversation.

Do some research about addiction and good treatment programs ahead of time so that you can be ready to offer your parent an immediate treatment solution.

Focus on Your Concern

Above everything else, it is important to be loving, gentle, and supportive when talking to your parent about their addiction. Come from a place of concern for their health, and stay as calm and focused as possible.


Don’t just talk at your addicted parent–listen to them. Let them talk about their fears and concerns, and listen to what they want out of treatment.

Try Again

If your parent is not receptive to your concerns about their addiction, do not give up. Your ultimate goal should be to get your parent into addiction treatment. Get more support for yourself. This may mean speaking to a counselor, staging an intervention, attending group support meetings, or talking to other concerned friends and family members. Consider bringing in a professional addiction specialist to give you the support and education you need to help an addicted parent get into treatment.

Don’t give up hope that you can help your parent get the help they need, and surround yourself with the support you need along the way.

How to Help an Addicted Parent and Convince Them to Go to Treatment

Get The Care You Need and Deserve

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

Learn More About How to Help an Addicted Parent at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you love needs addiction treatment or support during addiction recovery, reach out to the staff at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment for information about our programs.

You do not have to go through this alone. With the right support and treatment, recovery from addiction is possible. Call today to talk to our specialists about the life-changing treatment we can give you.


Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC
Clinical Director

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