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If you have kids at home and aging parents, you may well be feeling all kinds of stress from both directions. Raising kids is filled with challenges, of course, including during the teenage years. And doing right by your folks as they grow older comes with its own fair share of difficulties. 

Sometimes those difficulties might go beyond making sure everyone gets to their activities and their doctor appointments and the like. Sometimes those difficulties might go beyond making sure everyone gets dinner and gets ready for bed at a reasonable time. Sometimes those difficulties might go beyond tricky conversations that are a combination of support, advice, cajoling, and more.

Sometimes those difficulties might include a substance use disorder.

How Addiction Affects The Family

Let’s take a look at how substance use disorders can impact every generation of a family.

When Your Child Develops a Substance Use Disorder

An awful lot of popular culture portrays drug and alcohol use as a normal rite of passage for teenagers and young adults. Sometimes those pop culture depictions seem to suggest that kids can play around with various substances at little or no risk. 

But that, of course, simply is not true. A young person who starts drinking at a party or who accepts drugs from a “cool” friend may very well be taking their first step toward a substance use disorder. And there is no “young adult” version of a substance use disorder akin to the YA novels your child might read. Instead, a teenager with a substance use disorder is subject to all negative impacts to their physical and mental health—and to the rigors of withdrawal if they try to give up drugs or alcohol on their own.

While it might be tempting to try to keep your child’s problem private so that it does not impact how they (or you) are perceived, the fact is that the best move is to get the young person in your life into treatment (which is, of course, confidential). That gives them the best chance to regain their sobriety and to learn the skills and strategies they will need to maintain it going forward. 

We should note that your adult child might also struggle with drugs or alcohol. We have some advice for that situation, too.

When Your Parent Develops a Substance Use Disorder

While there are any number of ways an older adult might develop a substance use disorder, one of the more common involves prescription medication. Maybe they have been having trouble sleeping and wind up with a prescription for Ambien. Maybe they have had a surgical procedure and wind up with a prescription for an opioid painkiller. Maybe they have been experiencing anxiety and wind up with a prescription for Xanax. (Or maybe they have been “self-medicating” with illicit drugs or alcohol.)

It can be a surprisingly short step from using a prescription drug as intended to misusing it and winding up with a significant problem. If that has happened to your parent, the best move is to get them into treatment so that they can reclaim their sobriety.

When You Develop a Substance Use Disorder

Let’s face it: Life can be difficult—especially when you are balancing the needs of folks who are depending on you all of the time. It can be easy enough to try to relieve the ongoing stress with drugs or alcohol. It might start as just an occasional thing when you are particularly struggling.

But soon enough, drugs or alcohol might become your go-to solution for managing your life. The problem, of course, is that you may well develop a substance use disorder—and that means your life is not going to get easier to manage. Instead, it is going to get even more difficult as you begin to experience the physical and mental health impacts of continued substance use. 

If you find yourself in this situation, the solution is the same as it would be for your child or your parent. You need to get yourself into treatment so that you can reclaim your sobriety, your life, and your ability to be there for those who need your care.

We can Help the Young, the Old, or those in Between

At French Creek Recovery in Meadville, PA, we offer services for those who struggle with drugs or alcohol. We provide medically supervised detoxification to help those we serve regain their sobriety safely and as comfortably as possible. We provide group and individual therapy—including treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and trauma-based disorders—as part of our robust approach to rehabilitation. And we provide a continuum of care designed to ensure you are supported and encouraged as your recovery journey begins. 

When you or someone in your life needs help, we are eager and able to provide a path back to sobriety—and to provide the resources, strategies, and support needed to maintain that sobriety over time.