Helping Your Adult Child Beat Addiction

Addictions Content Team Info icon
Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/16/2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If your adult child has a substance abuse problem, you may find yourself with a lot of regrets. You may blame yourself. You may appeal over and over to your child with tears and nagging. But, as you know by now, these feelings aren’t helping your child recover and they are tearing your world apart.

To better deal with an adult child who is an addict, you still need to be proactive. Yes, they are an adult. But, this probably isn’t something they have the power to fix alone. It isn’t a willpower issue. Help them by being an active force for change.

Who Seeks Treatment?

There is a lot of data connected to people who seek drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports the characteristics of admissions and discharges from substance abuse treatment facilities in its Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). According to this data:

  • The average age at admission was 35 years
  • Non-Hispanic whites made up 61 percent of all admissions aged 12 and older in 2013 (39
  • percent were males and 22 percent were females)
  • Non-Hispanic blacks made up 19 percent of all admissions (13 percent were males and 5 percent were females)
  • Forty percent of admissions had not been in treatment before the current episode, while 14 percent had been in treatment five or more times previously
  • Self- or individual referrals were responsible for 37 percent and criminal justice referrals were responsible for 34 percent of referrals to treatment [Table 2.6].
  • Most admissions (61 percent) received outpatient treatment, 22 percent received detoxification, and 17 percent received rehabilitation/residential treatment


Child Beat Addiction

If your child shows any interest in treatment, be available to provide transportation right away.

Your first job as a parent is to support your child in seeking treatment. There are a number of ways to do this, but one of the best is to research, research, research. It doesn’t help to simply tell and addict over and over that they need help and need to stop abusing the substance of their choice. They know this and no amount of nagging or crying offers them options.

Through research, you can compile a concrete list of available treatment options and the ways in which they can be funded. Having these pieces of information in place allow you to constructively respond to the objections that your adult child will put forward. By, answering constructively, you are able to diminish the power of their objections.

Be the Transport

If you want to take your research activity to the next level, be prepared when you bring these options up to take your addict directly to the rehab center. Addicts do want help, but they are fighting a terrible battle with an opponent who has altered the way their brain responds. Even if they want to change, the desire to change can switch very quickly into a desire to use. If you have the car out front and drive them immediately to one of the chosen centers you researched, that desire to change will have more of a chance to be maintained.


Drug and alcohol addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is “a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.” The addiction isn’t in your child’s control and it isn’t a reflection on your parenting.