Signs That Your Parent Is An Addict

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Coping With an Addicted Parent

“We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.”

– Henry Ward Beecher

If it was not for the guidance and influence of our parents, we certainly would not have made it as far as we did in life. We look to our parents as role models – as we grow up, we mimic their behavior and seek their support and encouragement. They show us unconditional love and help mold us into functional adults after their own image. As we grow older, we learn that our parents are in fact fallible, and that they might be slightly more flawed than we originally observed. As children we look at everything earnestly. We are in awe of the world and our parents are nothing but our protectors. Later on in life we become slightly more jaded by the ways of the world, and we realize that our mothers and fathers – like everyone else – are really only human.

Watching a parent struggle with addiction is extremely painful. The person we once deemed as faultless is struggling to stay afloat. The good news is that if your parent is struggling with an addictive disorder there are several steps you can take to help, and Guardian Recovery is available to help every single step of the way.

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Understanding Addiction

When helping an addicted parent, the first step is always educating yourself on the ins and outs of substance abuse and dependence. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as “ a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” Their definition notes that addiction has numerous manifestations, including social, biological, psychological and spiritual, and that in order for addiction to be successfully overcome a multi-phased recovery program must be sought. Addiction is characterized by chronic drug or alcohol use in spite of personal consequences (which can be personal, legal, financial or health-related). Essentially, an individual who is suffering at the hands of substance dependence is unable to quit on their own accord regardless of how much motivation they have to do so. Understanding the Disease Model of Addiction is crucial to approaching your loved one with empathy and understanding, and having a calm and rational conversation prevents you from unintentionally pushing your loved one farther away. If you would like more information on addiction contact Guardian Recovery today.

Signs That Your Parent is an Addict

If you are still unsure as to whether or not your parent is an addict, there are several signs and symptoms to look for.

The most telling warning signs that your parent is an addict:

  • Your parents used to encourage you to visit often (assuming you no longer live at home) – Now you might not hear from your mother or father for weeks at a time. If you do still live at home, you might find that your parents are less engaged in what you are doing. They might seem wrapped up in their own world and they rarely ask you about your own life.
  • If one of your parents is struggling with addiction you might notice a wide range of physical changes – Maybe he or she has either gained or lost a significant amount of weight. He or she might be paying less attention to personal hygiene – teeth and hair are left unbrushed, clothing is left unchanged and showering is neglecting. Physical changes might also include increased tiredness and fatigue, bloodshot eyes or pale, pallid skin.
  • If one of your parents has been struggling with addiction he or she might be struggling to stay afloat at work – Symptoms of a substance abuse disorder could include showing up to work while intoxicated, showing up late or failing to show up altogether and regularly missing important meetings. Of course, if your parent gets laid off entirely and fails to give you a straightforward answer as to why, that is also a good indication that something is wrong.
  • Significant behavioral changes are often a telltale sign of substance abuse – If your parent begins staying out later than normal, sleeping all day or engaging in other behaviors that are out of character, there is a good chance that he or she is using alcohol or drugs. You might find that your mother or father is being blatantly dishonest about certain things as well.
  • Mood swings are also a good indication – If your father or mother is more short-tempered than normal, or if he or she seems happy and social one minute then angry and defensive the next, this emotional instability could be attributed to a substance abuse issue.

There are many more signs to keep an eye out for – the above-listed warning signs are truly the tip of the iceberg. If you feel like something is wrong there is a good chance it is – and remember, for more information you can always call Guardian Recovery. We are standing by to help you in any and every way possible.

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Getting the Support You Need

First and foremost, it is important that you seek the support and guidance you need. Watching a parent struggle with addiction undeniably does a number on your emotional and mental health, and it can be difficult to know how to help until you work on healing yourself. As the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” Make sure that your own needs are being met before you attempt to intervene. This might look like seeking support from a group of like-minded men and women who have been through (or are currently going through) a similar experience. Look into Al-Anon meetings or meetings designed for Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA). Seek individual therapy or call up a licensed addiction specialist for professional insight on how to help. For more information on resources reach out to Guardian Recovery today, we are available to help 24/7.

Guardian Recovery – Age-Specific Treatment Options

At Guardian Recovery we remain dedicated to providing the most focused and individualized care available. In order to achieve this goal we break many of our therapeutic groups down by demographic. In addition to providing gender-specific treatment options, we offer age-specific treatment for young adults, adults and older adults. If your parent is older and is concerned about being in treatment with like-minded individuals, rest assured that our age-specific programs allow for increased relatability and ensure that our clients feel as comfortable as possible among their peers.

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Our Simple Admissions Process

At Guardian Recovery we have developed an admissions process that is simple and uncomplicated in order to help your loved one receive the professional care he or she needs as efficiently as possible. The moment you give us a call we begin by conducting a brief pre-assessment geared towards helping our clinical team determine which level of care is the most appropriate for your loved one. At Guardian Recovery we offer several levels of clinical care including medically monitored detox, inpatient addiction treatment, partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), outpatient treatment (OP) and aftercare. Once the level of care is determined we help figure out the most viable option for coverage. We work closely with most regional and national health insurance providers in order to make our treatment services as accessible as possible. Next we set a date and a time for intake and help arrange transportation when needed. If your parent has been struggling with a substance abuse disorder of any severity, Guardian Recovery is available to help. To learn more about our comprehensive and highly individualized program of recovery or to get started contact us today.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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