Pathways Wellness

How to Help an Addicted Son: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents

How to Help an Addicted Son: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents
Raul Haro
October 5, 2023
Did you know that countless parents in America have an addicted son? Every day, some parents have to watch their child's health and life spiral out of control. Sometimes they can catch the signs early and beg their addicted son to get help, only for their son to refuse. They may have watched their addicted […]
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How to Help an Addicted Son: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents

Did you know that countless parents in America have an addicted son? Every day, some parents have to watch their child's health and life spiral out of control. Sometimes they can catch the signs early and beg their addicted son to get help, only for their son to refuse. They may have watched their addicted son change drastically in personality into someone they struggle to recognize. Other times they don't notice that something is amiss until it's too late. There is nothing more painful than watching a loved one struggle, especially for a parent.

That's why addiction awareness and addiction education are important topics to talk about. How is a parent supposed to help their addicted son if they were never taught how to do so? There is also the problem of families believing that addiction can never affect them. The truth is that addiction can happen to anyone at any time. Even a “perfect” family with the most loving of parents can have children who develop an addiction. 

The most important thing for those with an addicted son is to get them help as soon as possible. Addiction is not a condition that one can just simply stop. It's a complicated disease of the mind and body that requires specialized professionals to treat. To receive addiction treatment, one must enroll in a treatment program at an addiction treatment facility. One such facility is Pathways Wellness Center, which offers a wide variety of treatments designed to help its clients recover from their addiction. 

But how does someone help their addicted son and convince them to seek treatment? To understand how parents can help their children recover from addiction, they must first understand addiction itself.

Understanding Addiction and Its Causes

Addiction is a disease that causes someone to be unable to regulate or stop their use of substances. These substances, such as drugs and alcohol, affect the brain on a chemical level. The brain uses a delicate balance of chemicals (neurotransmitters) to send information between the body, brain, and nervous system. Substances overwhelm these systems by hijacking the reward/pleasure centers of the brain and altering the chemistry of the brain itself. The brain cannot stop craving these substances, even when it's causing physical and psychological harm.

People can become addicted to substances for a wide range of reasons, some of which are beyond a person's control. The genetics they are born with, family history, the environment they were raised in, and others all contribute to the likelihood of addiction. There is also peer pressure and the social idea that people need to drink or do drugs to have a fun time. Some people have what is called an “addictive” personality. This means they have some personality traits that make them more susceptible to risky behavior and can lead them to addiction.

However, the main reason why people turn to addiction is because they are looking to mask or treat a problem in their lives. People who have lived through trauma, those under stress, and people who feel lost may turn to substances to help them relax or feel better. Others may be living with chronic pain or a serious medical condition and are looking for any relief they can get. This is known as self-medicating, and it often leads to addiction. 

Parents of an addicted son may worry that their child will be locked away forever, or that they can never recover. Addiction treatment centers are not prisons and are completely voluntary. Anyone can recover from an addiction if they have the right support, treatment, time, and personal drive to get better. Having an addicted son also means that they are not a bad person, or that they deserved an addiction. Addiction is never a punishment, and everyone deserves to recover from an addiction. 

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction in Your Son

Addiction affects all aspects of a person. This includes their minds, bodies, and behavior. Understanding and knowing the signs early can alert parents to the struggles of their sons and get them help. The faster an addicted son receives help, the greater the chance that they can recover. Of course, anyone can recover from addiction. However, the longer someone engages in an addiction, the longer it takes to detox and complete addiction treatment. 

When an addicted son uses substances, it can affect their physical health. The longer they engage in an addiction, the harder it is for them to hide the physical signs. Some substances can leave obvious signs on the body, such as needle marks. An addicted son may choose to suddenly start wearing long sleeves to cover up these marks, even when it's hot out, to hide them. It's important to look for unusual marks and changes in health. Some common physical signs of addiction are:

  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Exhaustion
  • Unexplained changes in physical appearance, such as looking “worn out” or having suspicious scabs and wounds

Addiction causes several behavioral changes as well in an addicted son. This is because substances alter the chemistry of the brain. Over time, the brain begins to crave these substances to feel “right” or “normal.” Eventually, a person becomes tolerant of the substance and needs more and more to get the same feeling as before. This can cause an addicted son to act erratically, or stop caring about important parts of their life in favor of getting and using substances. Some common behavioral changes to look out for are:

  • Engaging in illegal behavior (such as theft, assault, and DUI)
  • Becoming secretive or dishonest
  • Engaging in reckless and risky behavior
  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or friends
  • Difficulties in maintaining relationships

Because the brain and nervous system are affected by addiction, it changes how someone feels and thinks. This is partially because the functions of the brain are interrupted, making it hard to regulate emotions. Sometimes substances themselves can cause side effects that alter someone's mood or state of mind. Those with an addicted son may notice sudden changes in mood and thinking patterns, such as:

  • Irritability and anger
  • Lack of motivation
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Sadness and depression
  • Anxiety

The Challenges Parents Face

Watching their addicted son struggle can cause a huge emotional toll on parents and loved ones. Some parents may blame themselves for the state of their child. Others may struggle with feelings of anger and guilt. Still, others wrestle with the feeling of helplessness, as they simply don't know how to help their addicted son. Good parents love their children, and sometimes that can harm as well as help.

Sometimes parents engage in enabling behaviors when it comes to their addicted son. They may be tempted to “bail out” their child when the consequences of their drug addiction happen. For example, their addicted son may decide to buy substances instead of groceries. Instead of letting their child understand that their addiction is out of control to the point that they have no food, they enable them by buying groceries for them. Sometimes a person needs to understand that they have a problem before they can get help. When parents enable their addicted son, it never lets them realize that they have a problem.

It can be difficult to set healthy boundaries for anyone, let alone their children. But parents need to do so. Not just for their sake, but for the sake of their addicted son and other loved ones. Parents need to step back and take care of themselves too, as it can be difficult to be a continuous source of support for an addicted son. You cannot pour water out of an empty cup, as it is said, so time must be taken to recharge and protect their mental health.

Luckily, parents don't have to figure out how to do this on their own. Pathways Wellness Center offers several resources and therapies for those with addicted sons and daughters. Family therapy is one such therapy that helps families form healthy relationships. They can offer advice to parents on ways to healthily cope with their current situation. Self-care is important, and parents need to utilize it to better support their addicted son and themselves. 

How to Communicate Effectively With Your Addicted Son

Parents need to convince their addicted son to seek addiction treatment. However, this is easier said than done. Many times, parents are too confrontational or judgmental, and that only makes their addicted son defensive and unwilling to listen. Instead, care must be taken in both the words they use and the tone in which they speak them. One should never be judgemental or confrontational when speaking to someone struggling with addiction. Instead, one should be compassionate and understanding.

Firstly, it's always important for parents to tell their addicted sons that they love them. Nothing that their child can do will ever change that. Many people are afraid of going to treatment because they fear that they will be belittled or judged. Parents should tell their addicted sons that they will always be there for them, and will support them while they get help. Do not judge them for having an addiction nor assign blame. Instead, simply reiterate that they are loved and that people are worried about their health and safety. 

It's also important to be an active listener and show empathy. If an addicted son wants to tell their parents how they feel, those parents should be giving him their undivided attention. Parents should not interrupt and allow their addicted sons to say what they want to say. It may take some gentle workarounds, as many people with an addiction first struggle with denial. Point out the specific behaviors that are worrisome and let them know that they can get help. Parents should remind their addicted sons that addiction treatment facilities are not prisons, but places of healing. 

Parents should make it easy for their children to speak with them. If parents are forced to step back to maintain healthy boundaries, make sure that their addicted son has at least one way to contact them. It can be anything from a prepaid phone to a stack of postal supplies (stamps, envelopes). They should check in on their child often, and remind them that they always have a safe person to talk to when they need help. Keeping the lines of communication open lets them know that they aren't abandoned and that their parents still love them.

Getting Treatment for Your Addicted Son

When talking to their addicted son, parents can have resources ready to educate them about addiction treatment. Again, many people are afraid of addiction treatment because they think they will be trapped with no autonomy. That is not true, and parents should be able to put their addicted son's fears to rest. For example, people can get addiction treatment and still return home at the end of the day. Pathways Wellness Center is an outpatient treatment facility. That means clients don't live at the facility to get treatment. Instead, they go to the treatment facility during the day and then are free when treatment is over.

Pathways Wellness Center offers a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for addiction treatment. PHPs are for those with severe to moderate addictions or at a high risk of a relapse. Clients tend to go to treatment five days a week and spend about five to six hours in treatment each day. IOPs are for those with a moderate to mild addiction, and help clients transition into sober living. They have treatment a few days a week, each day having about three to five hours of treatment. IOPs are more flexible than PHPs but take longer to complete. PHPs take less time to complete but are less flexible in hours.  

Every client at Pathways Wellness Center is given a personalized treatment plan. No two people or addictions are alike, so each plan must be tailored to fit the client it's designed to help. This allows clients to get the treatments they need and only the treatments they need, helping them recover faster. Part of addiction treatment at Pathways Wellness Center is relapse prevention. This helps clients and their families recognize and prevent relapses from happening. It's a vital part of recovery and helps clients remain sober after treatment. 

Regardless of the treatment plan chosen, the addicted son will need love and support throughout the process. Even once they finish treatment, they will still need support. Parents can support their children through treatment and recovery by listening to their needs and treatment providers. Staff members at Pathways Wellness Center can give tips to parents on how to create a substance-free home. Getting rid of substances from the home and not consuming substances in front of their son is the first step in creating a safe and healthy environment. 

Finding Local Support: Why Glendora Families Choose Pathways Wellness Center

Parents choose Pathways Wellness Center because our facility doesn't just help their addicted son, it helps the whole family. Located in Glendora, California, Pathways Wellness Center is in a convenient spot to help local families find the compassionate and quality addiction treatment they need. Community members know that those who enter treatment here find success and remain in recovery long after treatment has finished. With a commitment to family support and holistic care, parents can trust that their children will be treated with respect, kindness, and understanding.

If someone needs help in talking to their loved one about addiction, they can contact Pathways Wellness Center today. They can speak to one of the staff members about resources, advice, and treatment options. Many staff members at Pathways Wellness Center are in recovery themselves, so they have a unique perspective when it comes to addiction treatment. They can give parents honest advice from real experiences, letting them know that they are not alone in the fight. 

This is not a journey that anyone can walk on their own, especially for parents and their addicted son. It's important to understand that it's okay to need help, and sometimes it's best to leave it to the professionals. Parents should always stay hopeful, patient, and persistent, for both themselves and their addicted son. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, it just takes time to traverse through the darkness. 

It can be difficult to be a parent and watch your son struggle with an addiction. One might feel as though they are alone with no help or support to be found. However, there is help and support for those who need it. All it takes is reaching out and asking for it. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Glendora, California, we offer the education and therapy parents need to help their children recover from addiction. With quality and compassionate addiction treatment, anyone can recover from addiction. So if you have a child who is struggling and needs help for their addiction, don't wait. Call Pathways Wellness Center today at (888) 771-0966.

About the Author

Raul Haro
Raul Haro is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with sixteen years of experience working in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. As an LMFT, He has trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. Raul has furthered his training in the drug and alcohol field by obtaining a Masters in Drug and Alcohol Counseling through CCAPP. Raul has a background in nursing where he has been an LVN for over 25 years. Recently, he has returned to school to complete a degree in Registered Nursing. Future plans are for Raul are to eventually complete a degree as a Nurse Practitioner combining his therapy practice with his nursing skills.

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