Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 8/7/2021
Having a Parent Who is Addicted to Heroin (or other opioids)
Living with parents addicted to heroin (or other opioids such as fentanyl) can be frustrating. Your parents’ substance abuse may create a tense or unsafe home environment. If your parents have shown no willingness to stop their drug use despite any problems it has caused for you and your family, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to get them to stop.
There is treatment out there for your parents and support available to you. We can guide you toward the help that’s right for your family’s situation. Call us today at (888) 906-0952 for a free consultation and more information on support for families affected by addiction.
Free and confidential consultation for your situation. Call (888) 906-0952 to learn about treatment options for your parents.
Find the answers you need.
- What Can I Do to Help an Addicted Parent?
- Understanding Your Parent’s Substance Abuse
- How Your Parent’s Addiction to Opioids Affects You
- Will I Develop an Addiction, Too?
- The First Steps to Take in Getting Support
What Can I Do to Help an Addicted Parent?
If you live with parents addicted to heroin, the best thing you can do is reach out to someone about the issue.
Dealing with addicted parents can sometimes feel isolating.
You may be embarrassed to let someone know about such personal issues.
But it would be best if you did not have to solve your family’s problems on your own. It’s a good idea to talk to an adult you trust.
Depending on your age, this could be a family member, friend, teacher counselor, a friend’s parent, or other trusted person.
A trusted adult can take the feeling of the burden off your shoulders and may be able to help you find additional support, such as counseling or a safe place to stay if you feel unsafe at home.
There are even support groups for teenagers with addicted parents.
These groups can provide you with a safe community to connect with other people whose families have been impacted by addiction.
They provide you a place to share your similar experiences without fear of judgment so you can learn from and encourage one another.
Sometimes, an adult may be able to look into getting help from their parents.
But remember that your priority should always be your well-being and that it’s not up to you to fix your parents.
Their recovery is ultimately their responsibility.
If you are not getting your needs met at home (for example, you are not getting enough to eat or no one is making sure you get to school), keep speaking up until someone hears you and helps you.
Taking Care of Yourself is Vital
It is important not to bury your feelings or pretend that everything is fine. Take time to notice how your parent’s substance abuse makes you feel and know that it’s okay to feel the way you do, whether it’s angry, afraid, or any other emotion.
Using your words to express how you feel and why can help you work through emotional problems. Keeping your feelings bottled up can make the situation seem even worse.
You may have learned not to speak up or show emotion around your parents. Perhaps doing so may trigger their anger, for instance. While bottling up emotions and other habits may help you cope with home life, they are not healthy for other parts of your life.
The ability to express your emotions and speak up is important to building healthy relationships. You must be able to build good habits to work through future problems in a productive way.
Sometimes it may help to work with a therapist or counselor to build good habits you could not learn from your parents or on your own. Additionally, therapy can also be useful for learning to avoid the risks of addiction and break the substance abuse cycle. When you speak to your trusted adult, they may be able to help you find these resources.
Understanding Your Parent’s Addiction to Opioids
The most important thing to remember is that your parents’ addiction is never your fault. You did not cause their addiction or lead them to use drugs. While your parents’ substance abuse may affect you, their problems are their own, and they must take responsibility for them. Just as it is not your fault, it is not your job to solve anything for them.
Addiction and its causes can be difficult to understand. People start using drugs for many reasons. Some feel it helps them deal with stress or other problems in their life, but using drugs can become a problem of its own. So, why don’t people stop?
It may not make sense why someone would continue to do something that harms them and those around them. But addiction is a disease that causes a loss of control. Even when people can recognize the problems caused by their drug use, it is extremely difficult to stop. Regaining control often requires professional help and counseling.
But getting help may not be easy with an addiction. For some people, it can be hard to admit they have a problem. Others may not even realize how much control drugs have over their lives. Some people are afraid of dealing with real life without drugs or alcohol.
Addicted people also sometimes have a hard time quitting drug use because when they become dependent on a substance, their body does not function without it. When they stop using the drug, they experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are different for everybody, but they generally tend to be very uncomfortable. Some addicted people will return to using drugs after a period of withdrawal to ease their discomfort.
How Your Parent’s Addiction Affects You
About 25% of children under 18 deal with exposure to family alcohol abuse or drug dependence. The drug addiction effects on children can be just as serious as the effects on the addicted parent. Children of addicted parents can develop problems of their own that can last into adulthood if they do not receive the proper support.
About 25% of children under 18 are exposed to family alcohol abuse or drug dependence. You are not alone.
When children grow up surrounded by substance abuse, they are more likely to use alcohol or other drugs themselves. They also have a greater chance of developing depression or anxiety later on.
Numerous studies have confirmed that children of addicted parents have a higher risk of developing various problems. These can include emotional, behavioral, and social problems as well as higher rates of addiction.
Children of substance abusing parents are twice as likely to develop addictions themselves by young adulthood compared to their peers. Children as young as 2 to 3 years old have a higher risk of developing emotional and behavioral problems under the care of an addicted parent.
The issues are due to a variety of parenting issues that stem from substance abuse. By definition, people with addictions are too preoccupied with drug-taking habits to manage other aspects of their life, including parenting. Addicted parents often show less warmth and responsiveness to their children. They may also become harsher when interacting with their children. Generally, children in such an environment feel less secure.
It is important to remember that the situation is different for every child. Many still demonstrate positive development despite the risks they invite upon themselves. There is no guarantee that you will develop all or any of these problems if you live with an addicted parent. But they do demonstrate the importance of getting help as soon as possible.
Will I Develop an Addiction, Too?
It is worth keeping in mind that addiction tends to run in the family, so children with addicted parents face a greater risk of addiction. However, that does not mean addiction is guaranteed, especially if you are aware of the risks and take steps to prevent them.
Other factors besides genetics, such as social environment, can influence drug use too. Many people with no family history of addiction also develop substance abuse problems. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress and other problems is one major part of preventing addiction.
Unfortunately, you cannot force your parent to stop abusing heroin. And drug counseling for parents isn’t always an option. But you can get help for yourself to not have to follow in their footsteps. Although you may feel alone, many children and teens are going through the same problem. It is okay not to have all the answers. Fortunately, this is why help is available.
When you talk to a trusted adult, they will want to help you, not shame you. It can be intimidating to bring up family issues with an outside person, but getting support during this tough time is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.
Taking the First Steps in Getting Help & Support
The children of addicted parents often face a variety of problems that other children generally do not. These children can develop problems in numerous areas of their lives that can last even after childhood. They also face a higher risk of developing substance dependence themselves.
It can be incredibly frustrating to have to deal with problems caused by someone else. Living with addicted parents can feel isolating, and day-to-day life can be uncertain. Sometimes it can even feel dangerous. If there are times when your parent gets angry at you, you may feel guilty and blame yourself for their problems. But know that, no matter the situation, it is not your fault. You did not cause your parent to use heroin or become addicted.
If you feel you need to do something about your parent’s drug abuse, know that you don’t have to solve everything alone, and there is support available to you as well as your parents. You may not be able to get your parents to stop using heroin by yourself, but your parents have the power to stop and recover from their addictions by seeking treatment.
Whatever care they may need, help is available for them. But help is available for you too. Just because it is not your problem doesn’t mean it has not impacted you.
Just as recovering addicts use the help of support groups to encourage themselves to go on, you can also lean on your peers for support. When you talk to a trusted adult, they can connect you to other helpful people and resources.
We are one such resource able to guide you and your family toward the support you need. Give us a call today for more information on resources in your area for families impacted by addiction.
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Do You Have a Parent Struggling With Addiction?
Having parents who are addicted to heroin is extremely difficult. We understand your pain. Call us today for a free treatment options consultation.