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Sometimes, a life event -- an illness or job loss -- may send an older adult spiraling into alcoholism, or a prescription for back pain may turn into a Vicodin addiction.
Children in these situations face conflicting feelings. It's normal to respect a parent, yet in the case of addiction it may be necessary to be confrontational and even take over some aspects of the person's life. It's normal to want to do anything possible to get your "real" mom or dad back, but at the same time teens and young adults face significant responsibilities for taking care of themselves and building their futures.
A good treatment center can provide a significant break away from the person's familiar drug-using life while also providing family therapy to help relatives understand patterns of codependency and relapse signals. It may also be helpful to attend Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings to learn from others who have been in similar situations. If a parent's situation is getting in the way of your functioning in school or work, it may be helpful to get counseling to establish healthy boundaries so you can be supportive without draining yourself.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|