Intervention for a Parent
If you have a parent who has a drug or alcohol addiction, you might want to approach the problem a bit differently than you would with a younger person. Because many older adults are financially independent and live away from family members, they generally do not experience the same types of consequences that younger people do.
For example, when younger adults have drug or alcohol problems, they often have to face certain consequences that are related to addiction such as:
• Being charged with drunk driving
• Job loss
• Failing grades or other problems at school
• Alienation of friends or family members
• Marital problems
• Financial difficulties
Directly confronting an older parent is often not the best approach, as this can cause your parent to feel as though he or she is being personally attacked. If your parent feels this way, he or she will be much less likely to discuss the problem with you (or anyone else).
If you want to talk to your parent about an addiction problem, the best approach is to begin a conversation that gently introduces the topic so that you can let your parent know that you are not being judgmental. You want your parent to know that you are concerned about his or her welfare and that you want to help in any way you can.
During this conversation, make sure that you make your parent feel comfortable, and encourage him or her to really talk to you about what is going on in his or her life socially, professionally, or otherwise. It is important that you encourage open conversation to make your parent feel more at ease with the topic at hand.
It is also important to keep in mind that the process of going through withdrawal is usually harder on older adults than on younger people. There are a variety of reasons for this, including the presence of multiple medical problems, memory difficulties, and a decrease in mobility. Because the treatment and withdrawal processes can be so difficult for older adults, it is highly recommended that individuals who are over the age of 55 enter a treatment facility for drug and alcohol problems.
Even though the entire treatment and recovery process tends to take much longer with older adults, the end results are generally quite successful. For the most part, the probability of success depends on the type of treatment that is chosen for your parent, and his or her own commitment to overcoming addiction.