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Why Can’t I Force My Parent Into Recovery?

It is natural to want your parents to be healthy and happy. However, this urge may feel even more overwhelming when they are sick or need help. Unfortunately, watching a parent struggle with addiction is not an uncommon experience. In this article, we will discuss the complexities of addiction and why you cannot force a parent into recovery. First, we need to cover the basics.

What Is Addiction?

Understanding what addiction is can help you better recognize that recurrent substance use is not necessarily a voluntary choice. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control.” As a result, addiction is not typically a conscious choice.

Moreover, NIDA confirms, “The initial decision to take drugs is typically voluntary. But with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired. This impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction.”

While there is not a known single cause of addiction, there are multiple aspects that can influence it. Additionally, substance use is usually a symptom of something deeper, like a mental disorder. When a mental health disorder and substance use disorder (SUD) occurs together, it is known as a co-occurring disorder.

Force a Parent Into Recovery: Why You Can’t Make a Loved One Recover

It is common for people with addiction to use substances as a way of numbing psychological or emotional pain. NIDA reiterates, “Data show high rates of comorbid substance use disorders and anxiety disorders—which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.” Furthermore, NIDA explains that the following mental disorders are often associated with substance use, including:

This is one reason why you cannot try to force a parent into recovery. Even if stopping substance use was simple, there are still various factors that need to be addressed before healing can begin. Though you may be desperate for your parent to be done with their substance use, they are the ones that have to decide to make a change.

Recovery entails getting to the root of substance use, which often involves addressing trauma, mental disorders, and difficult experiences that may have occurred in the past. These discoveries should be made alongside licensed clinicians, like doctors who specialize in addiction medicine and licensed professional counselors. Additionally, recovery is a life-long journey, not a box to be checked. It requires a significant amount of patience and devotion to heal healthily.

If someone is forced into this kind of intense life change before they are ready, it could actually have the opposite effect. Instead of healing, it could drive them deeper into their substance use, which could exacerbate symptoms of an undiagnosed mental health disorder.

How Sage Recovery Can Help When You Want to Force a Parent Into Recovery

While you make have the best of intentions at heart, it is important to remember that you are not responsible for your parent’s healing or health. As hard as that may be, it’s true. What you can control, though, is your involvement in your parent’s addiction. You can honor them and be honest about how their addiction has affected you. Seeking help for yourself is a great way to start, as addiction is typically tied with relational complications and feelings of broken trust.

Force a Parent Into Recovery: Helping Yourself First

Sometimes the best way you can help your parent is by taking care of yourself. This will look different for everyone, but the more you become educated on what your parent is dealing with, the better you can support them. Additionally, the healthier you are, the easier it will be to maintain healthy relationships and boundaries with your parent. For some, keeping yourself healthy will entail seeking your own professional help, like counseling.

Counseling can help you healthily process complicated emotions, feelings, and experiences. It gives you a safe place to express yourself freely, while also receiving guidance on how to handle difficult situations. Many treatment facilities, like Sage Recovery, provide support groups and counseling for families of people struggling with addiction.

Here at Sage Recovery, we understand all the intricacies that come along with a parent with an addiction. Our masters-level clinicians are experts at providing:

While attending therapy sessions, we will make sure you feel heard and seen as you discuss how your parent’s substance use has affected your life. Depending on your needs and goals, we may also use some of the following therapeutic approaches to help you healthily heal from what you’ve been through:

Wanting to help others through their addiction is a noble desire, however, it’s one that is personal and cannot be made by anyone else. This can be difficult to come to terms with, especially when your parent is involved. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. Here at Sage Recovery, we are here to walk alongside you as you heal from the hard things you’ve been through. Whether that’s a family member’s addiction, your own addiction, or a mental health struggle, we have professionals who are ready to help you heal. Reach out to us at (512) 306-1394 when you’re ready to begin. We’re here for you.