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Parents of Estranged Addicted Adult Children: Should You Try to Reconcile

The definition of estranged is “a person no longer close or affectionate to someone; alienated.” Families may be dealing with the emotionally painful experience of having an estranged child if the parents stopped communication for something the child has done, the child may have disconnected completely from his or her parents for a particular reason, or it was a mutual situation where both parent and child struggled to get along for quite some time. If you have been missing from the life of your estranged adult child, it can make dealing with their addiction even more difficult.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction is defined as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.” Dealing with drug addiction with your estranged child will require time and effort on both sides.

Tina Gilbertson, an author based in Portland, Oregon, helps parents of estranged adult children who are battling addiction. Tina says that parent-child estrangements are usually temporary, but they can last longer when harsh feelings and resentment begin to be shared. She shared some tips for dealing with your estranged addicted adult child as a parent:

Tips For Dealing With Your Estranged Child

  • Don’t be an enabler — if you are an enabler in an addiction crisis that means that you begin to take responsibility for your loved one’s addiction. You may feel that they have their addiction because of how you raised them or believe that you should’ve done something differently. If you bribed your estranged child with money to get them to come back into your life, for example, you could be enabling them for doing something for the wrong reasons. Make sure that you aren’t taking the blame and accepting the responsibility for your child’s addiction.
  • Have empathy — despite the range of negative emotions you may be facing, remember to have empathy for your child by trying to put yourself in their shoes. Make sure that each of you has your separate independence from each other, set boundaries between the both of you, and don’t guilt them into coming back into your life. Just have empathy for your estranged child and the entire situation so that you can deal with the addiction properly and rationally.
  • Join a support group — if you are facing this situation and would like to be surrounded by others going through the same obstacles, you should join a support group for parents of estranged children. You are suffering in this situation too, so you need to take some time out for yourself to better cope with the situation. Support groups allow parents to exchange their experiences with their estranged child to see what has worked for some people and what has not worked for others to eliminate a trial and error period.
  • Get professional help for your child — Tina says that it is extremely important for your child to get help for their addiction. “If your child has become lost in a full-blown addiction, your expectations are a moot point. It’s time to seek outside help. Addiction is a bigger problem than you can or should deal with alone,” said Tina. Addiction is a very serious issue that people cannot deal with on their own.

If you are a parent looking to help their estranged adult child who is battling addiction, don’t wait any longer to seek help. Call SAFE Prevention at 1-877-503-2608 to learn about the various forms of addiction prevention and treatment available for your unique situation. At SAFE Prevention, achieving long-term sobriety for your loved one is only a phone call away!

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