How to Convince an Addicted Parent to Go to Rehab

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When someone with an addiction does not get the treatment they need to overcome it, they can experience a range of emotional, physical, and social consequences. Addictions do not only affect the people who live with them. Their family members, loved ones, and the wider community often suffer, too.

This is especially true for children with an addicted parent. The effects of being raised by a parent who struggles with substance abuse can be severe and lifelong. According to research from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 25% of children in the United States live in a household with an addicted parent.[1] Being raised by a parent who abuses drugs or alcohol makes children more susceptible to all kinds of problems. They are more likely to experience emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol at an earlier age, and have more frequent behavioral problems. They are also more likely to struggle in school and have chronic low self-esteem.[2]

If you are a child whose parent struggles with addiction, you do not have to go through this alone. You can play an important role in addressing your parent’s addiction and helping them to get the help they need to live a healthy lifestyle.

Signs Your Parent Lives With Addiction

You may not always realize that your parent is struggling with addiction until they have been living with the condition for a long time. Recognizing the signs of addiction is an important first step in helping your addicted parent. Signs of addiction you may notice include:

  • Your parent uses drugs or drinks alcohol more than they used to
  • They require more of the substance to get the same effect
  • Your parent has health issues related to drug or alcohol abuse
  • They continue to use drugs or drink even though they experience negative consequences
  • Your parent has legal or financial issues related to substance abuse
  • They experience withdrawal symptoms if they cut back or stop using substances
  • They miss work or can not keep up with responsibilities at home, such as cooking, grocery shopping, paying bills, etc.
  • You see them using drugs or drinking, or find evidence that they have been using or drinking

Keep track of any signs of addiction you notice. Write them down, and if you are a minor child, share what you notice with a trusted adult.

How to Support an Addicted Parent

The most important thing you can do to support an addicted parent is to take good care of yourself. This means making sure you are safe and have what you need to cope with the stress of helping your addicted parent. For many people, this might include:

  • Learning about addiction and treatment
  • Starting therapy
  • Joining a support group or 12-step program for families of addicts
  • Working with a counselor to identify enabling behaviors
  • Staging an intervention
  • Setting healthy boundaries

When your parent lives with addiction, you may find yourself in a situation where your roles are reversed. Instead of relying on your parent for love and support, you may find that you feel responsible for your parent’s safety. You may start working harder to cover up for their missed work, taking on extra responsibilities to hide the fact there is something wrong, or not spending time engaged in hobbies or school so that you can take care of your parent.

It is important to get help for your addicted parent and find support for yourself. It is not healthy for your parent or yourself for you to shoulder the stress and responsibilities your parent’s addiction creates. If possible, encourage your parent to start addiction treatment. Regardless of whether they choose to go to rehab or not, take care of yourself and your needs first.

How to Get an Addicted Parent to Go to Rehab

Whether you live with your parent or not, your parent’s addiction can present a range of challenges and emotions. The best option is for your addicted parent to get the treatment they require to overcome the addiction. Steps to get a parent to go to rehab include:

  1. Write: Spend time writing about your concerns, observations, and feelings. This will help you communicate clearly later on.
  2. Get professional help: Seek the support of an addiction counselor or intervention specialist who can guide you through this process.
  3. Reach out to family and friends: Talk to loved ones or supportive friends who know you and your parent.
  4. Stage an intervention: Choose a safe, secure location and a time when your parent is least likely to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Invite other concerned family and friends to participate. Tell your parent about your concerns, focusing on your care and support of them. Tell them what boundaries you will all set and ask them to seek addiction treatment immediately.
  5. Follow-through: Maintain your boundaries, help your parent begin treatment, and find ongoing support and effective self-care.

You cannot force your addicted parent to go to rehab, but you can start to create an environment where you are healthy, safe, and supported. From this place, you will be better able to support your addicted parent.

Find Help for an Addicted Loved One Today

If you or a loved one requires addiction treatment, reach out to the staff at New Jersey Addiction Interventions. We offer a range of comprehensive, flexible treatment options that are designed to empower people in their recovery journey.

Don’t wait another day for the life-changing treatment you need. Call to speak to one of our admissions counselors today.



Medically Reviewed: November 12, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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