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How To Get Help For My Mom’s Alcohol Or Drug Addiction

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

Medically reviewed by

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

February 18, 2019

Mothers are often the pillar of support in a family and are one of the most important guides in a young person’s life. Unfortunately, her ability to serve those roles can be severely affected by addiction to drugs or alcohol. While not easy, it is possible to encourage her to seek treatment in order to live a life of sobriety.

Understand That You’re Not To Blame

People who have grown up with a parent suffering from addiction often feel that they are to blame. This is true even as they mature and grow into young and successful adults. An article published in Salon Magazine detailed the way a woman dealt with a mother who was addicted to various drugs and how that impacted her life.

Chances are that your mother’s behavior has drastically changed after she developed an addiction. She may have grown incredibly negative and mean-spirited. The woman mentioned above had problems with her mother failing to properly care for her, emotionally abusing her, and even blaming her for the problems of their lives.

You have to remember that those negative experiences are not fueled by your mother, but by her addiction. Deep down, she loves you and cares for you more than anything. In a sense, neither of you are truly to blame for the negative changes that have altered your mother’s behavior. However, you need to move past the emotional “blame game” if you want her to succeed in recovery.

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Successfully Holding An Intervention

When it comes time to confront your mother’s addiction, everyone in the family needs to be on the same page. They have to understand that confronting her in an angry or a resentful manner will only cause her to become defensive. It may also cause severe depression: studies have shown that a mother’s self-esteem is often highly linked with the way her children perceive and interact with her.

Basically, you need to sit down with her and discuss with honesty the ways her addiction has negatively impacted the family. Anyone who has watched the television show Intervention knows that this is an emotionally draining process, but it’s also an effective one: studies have shown that 80 percent of all people who have an intervention attend rehabilitation within 24 hours. And about 10 percent of the rest attend rehab after a week. To create a successful intervention, you need to follow these guidelines:

  • Remain calm, positive, and loving during the whole process
  • Always stress the fact that you love your mother
  • Discuss the way she was before her addiction and contrast it with negative behaviors after
  • Calmly open up about your emotions regarding her addiction
  • Bring up negative things that have happened due to her addiction, but blame the addiction, not her

Following these guidelines helps to ensure that your mother understands the problems her addiction has caused and is willing to seek treatment.

Deciding On Treatment

After successfully completing intervention, you need to help your mother choose the right rehabilitation program. All rehab programs offer detoxification, physical care, and mental health treatments. However, they differ in their time commitment and exact structure. The following programs are among the most popular and successful:

  • Inpatient rehab: useful if your mother needs round-the-clock medical help and extensive mental health treatment. However, it will remove her from the house for 30-120 days.
  • Outpatient rehab: works well for mothers that have jobs or have to take care of young children. She’ll have to attend rehab treatments during the day, but can go home at night.
  • Alternative treatments: some mothers do well with acupuncture, yoga, meditation, or other holistic treatments. However, many of these treatments lack scientifically proven benefits.

Whatever treatment option you choose, it is important to offer your mother the kind of emotional support she needs to recover. Choosing a nearby rehab center gives you the opportunity to visit her during inpatient treatment or have her attend outpatient treatments and return home every night.

Making A Completion Pledge

Before seeking a facility for your mother’s care, the family should write and sign a “completion pledge.” This simple pledge states that she is promising to complete treatment and is dedicated to regaining a sober life afterward. A completion pledge is two-fold: it helps focus her on recovery and also shows her how much you love her and support her recovery.

Remember: mothers and children share a special bond that is incredibly difficult to break. If she sees that you (and the rest of her children) are supporting her on her quest for sobriety, she is more likely to succeed. Familial recovery is fueled, first and foremost, by love and support, not by resentments and negativity.

Seeking The Help She Needs

Once your mother is ready for recovery, it’s time to find a rehabilitation center that works for her needs. For help with that step, please contact us at We have online resources, as well as personal counselors that can help identify a treatment center near you and even talk you through the difficult process of funding rehab.

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