Trauma creates serious outcomes for many and some people may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with worry and fear. Mothers of adult children may feel powerless when a child develops an addiction, but there are many ways to reach out and offer help.
Talking to Adult Children about Addiction
When an adult child struggles with the aftermath of trauma, there can be several signs that he needs support. A traumatic event such as combat or ongoing abuse in a relationship leaves a person with feelings of fear or anxiety. Some people may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an anxiety disorder, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
When talking with a child about addiction, experts recommend finding a time that is guaranteed to be free from interruptions. A mother may want to begin by talking to her child alone or may want to include a trusted person, such as a clergy member or trained addiction counselor, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
The following strategies are helpful when talking to a person suffering with an addiction:
- Offer specific examples of the person’s destructive behaviors and how the actions affect loved ones and others
- Provide a way to seek help, such as a pre-arranged treatment plan that offers defined goals for recovery
- Give a detailed account of what will happen if the person refuses to accept treatment
When an adult child lives at home or is supported by parents in other ways, it is important the person understand that addiction treatment is necessary and other forms of support cannot continue while the child is addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Traumatic Events and Addiction
The symptoms of trauma will not go away, even when a person is in recovery. When an adult child experiences combat or is the victim of sexual assault, he experiences many symptoms, according to SAMHSA:
- Emotional reactions, including shock, anxiety, grief, anger, resentment, guilt, shame, and emotional numbness
- Cognitive reactions, including confusion, indecisiveness, worry, shortened attention span, memory loss, unwanted memories, repeated imagery, self-blame
- Physical reactions, including tension, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, being startled easily, racing heartbeat, nausea, aches and pains, worsening health conditions, change in appetite, change in sex drive
A treatment program that includes mental health counseling to address trauma is necessary for a person’s full recovery. It is important to get the right help for trauma and co-occurring addiction, especially if you are having trouble fighting urges to use or engage in dangerous behaviors.