Advice for Parents of Addicts Who Have Children
This is a very complicated question. What we have is a large number of individuals that are in the retirement phase of their lives are now finding out that their children have an addiction to a substance and their child cannot handle the responsibility of child-rearing. Grandma and grandpa take on the role of not only parenting their child but also parenting their grandchildren. If the child’s mom and dad have an addiction to an opiate and they’re not able to function to parent adequately to a 3, 4, 5-year-old child, then grandma and grandpa take on the role of both taking care of their child as well as their grandchildren.
The most effective thing you can do is get professional help as quickly as you can so you can learn some coping strategies so that we can develop some behavioral changes so that the parent can get healthy. At the same time mom and dad, or in this case grandma and grandpa, need to be in a position where they can make decisions for the grandchild. Often times this will be a conflict between what mom or dad think they should be doing. However, the responsible party is not in a position where they can make responsible decisions as a result of their substance abuse.
Consequently, all three generations need to work collaboratively to bring about the most effective way to rear a young child in an environment that is going to be brought with difficulties of substance abuse that occurred prior to the time that the child was even born. So grandma and grandpa need to get a lot of support and get some professional intervention to show them how best to navigate these difficult times for them.
How Can Grandparents Help Play A Role In Addiction Treatment?
If an individual comes here requesting treatment, we try to involve as many people as we can. Often times that grandma and grandpa or mom and dad. Everyone has to be involved because the process of an addiction is an extremely deceitful process. The drug lies to the person who has the addiction, so we need a lot of monitoring, a lot of accountability and behavioral changes.
Collaboratively we will work with the grandparents or whoever the person is that’s supervising the person with the addiction. We will make sure we are all on the same page because it is common for the person who has the addiction to fragment the intervention strategy by telling grandparents one thing and telling us something different.
Once we have eliminated that ability to distract or separate the intervention strategies, the patient usually seems to respond a lot better to a consistent intervention position where knows what’s expected and we have outcomes we want the patience to achieve based on our mutual intervention strategy.