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How To Handle An Addicted Parent

No matter how old we get, there will always be uncomfortable subjects to discuss with mom and dad. Even as we begin to think of them more as peers (or even friends), they are still the ones who raised us and a level of respect is always necessary. That is part of the reason why confronting an addiction with an older parent proves to be so difficult. But if substance abuse is occurring, it needs to be addressed for the safety and welfare of the family. U.S. News and World Reports recently published a helpful article on this topic, pointing out tips when it comes to parental interventions.

One of the trends that happens to be rising among older Americans is alcoholism. In fact, U.S. News is reporting that as many as 15 percent of U.S. seniors qualify as “at-risk drinkers.”

So how do we approach a mother, father or grandparent suffering from this? With care and thoughtfulness, as addressed in the article’s highlights below…

Find The Right Time To Discuss It

U.S. News emphasized the best moments to bring up a sensitive issue like substance abuse. Their recommendation is to do it during moments of sobriety, or even in the midst of a hangover when the parent is experiencing physical pain because of their problem. Trying to approach a parent while inebriated can prove challenging and ultimately doesn’t always lead to a meaningful conversation.

Avoid Labels

Use your words wisely, the article warns. Throwing out terms like “alcoholic” or “addict” can create defensiveness and even humiliate a parent. The point here is not to criticize the loved one, but rather to offer encouragement and support. Let them know that there is no shame in their problem and that is very common for people their age.

Continue To Show Respect For Your Parents

For many seniors, it is difficult to receive lectures from their grown children. They are, after all, the wise people who raised you and certainly deserve respect. U.S. News advises to avoid “talking down” to a loved one battling an addiction. Emphasize that this is coming from a place of love and genuine concern. Stern lectures and ultimatums can actually backfire in these types of situations.

Offer To Do The Heavy Lifting

If your parent does show interest in conquering their addiction, help guide them along the process. If it makes things easier, you can be the one to reach out to the appropriate treatment facility and coordinate their journey into sobriety.