My Child’s Father Is an Addict
When we think the parent-child dynamic in the context of addiction, we almost always think about the parent at their wit’s end trying to get help for their addicted son or daughter. The reality is, however, that it’s often the parents of underage and adult children who struggle with addiction, and often wind up impacting their children for years to come as a result. Between alcohol addiction and the escalating opioid crisis affecting baby boomers and older seniors, addiction is a public health issue that doesn’t discriminate based on age.
If the father of your child is struggling with addiction, there is a whole other level of urgency you need to observe in your attempt to get them help in order to ensure the safety and long-term well-being of you and your child while getting your partner or co-parent a second chance at life in recovery. Data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services indicates parental alcohol or other drug use as a contributing factor for child removal increased from 18% to over 35% in the last 16 years. At the same time, while there is obviously no guarantee, a commonly cited body of research suggests that children of addicts are eight times as likely to become addicts themselves.
In order to break the cycle of addiction and protect you child from immediate harm, here are some steps you can take to get the father of your child the help they need.
Make Sure You and Your Child are Safe
You need to be able to help the father of your child from a position of strength and stability. The reality of addiction is that it puts both the addict and the people they love in dangerous situations, and very often jeopardizes their immediate health and safety. Before you can take steps to help your loved one, make sure your living situation is secure and that you and your child have somewhere to go in the event of escalation. Call a friend or family member, if necessary.
“Tough Love”: Consequence-Based Treatment Motivation
While it may seem initially harsh, sometimes the best thing you can do is show the addicted father of your child what can happen if they don’t get clean. Tell the father of your child as calmly and rationally as possible, without exercising judgment, that you simply can’t put your child at risk by allowing visitation until they get clean. It may be necessary to take legal action in this case. Courts may automatically intervene and mandate treatment, depending on the specific circumstances.
Some of the signs that the father of your child may have a drug problem can include:
- Increasing Irresponsibility Regarding Care (Forgetting about Important Events, Not Showing, Driving them around While, Etc.)
- Professional or Financial Problems (Job Loss, Spending Savings on Drugs, Etc.)
- Prolonged Periods of Absence or Isolation
- Erratic, Risky and Potentially Illegal Behavior
- Lying about Whereabouts and Other Things
If your child’s father is exhibiting these physical indicators or any behavioral signs of addiction, it’s time to get them help.
Engage Them Calmly and Rationally about Treatment
Before things escalate to the point of consequences; however, try talking to the addicted father of your child about the prospect of getting help for both themselves and your child. Offer to help them in their search for care. If they see that they have a partner in this endeavor, and that they can lean on you for support, they might be more receptive to entering treatment. Help can mean anything from assisting in their search for a treatment center by calling or going online to offering to help cover some of their treatment costs through your insurance if they aren’t adequately covered by their own plan. There is no blueprint for this, but as along you are willing to help, let them know.
Get Others Involved in their Treatment
Even though your child’s safety and emotional well-being may be tied to their father’s recovery, and you have a tremendous personal stake in their progress, this can’t be entirely up to you. Reach out to his family, close friends and other important people in his life to try and organize a meeting or intervention. An intervention should be led by an experienced, trained and qualified professional who can keep the process from becoming overtly emotional, assist with making treatment arrangements and help your group coordinate actual logistics of the meeting. It’s important to make treatment arrangements ahead of time to avoid any the pitfalls of any second thoughts your child’s father may have.
We’re Ready to Help Your Child Get His Father Back
The Ridge has helped thousands of co-parents just like you start to reconnect your family through comprehensive alcohol and drug addiction treatment. Whether you and your child’s father are married, separated or share parentage in any other model, your child deserves to have two parents who love, support and show up for them.
- Child Welfare and Alcohol & Drug Use Statistics
- Familial Transmission of Substance Use Disorders
- Millennials and Baby Boomers Hardest Hit by Opioid Epidemic (drugfree.org)
- Aging And Addicted: The Opioid Epidemic Affects Older Adults, Too