Helping Your Young Adult Child Form a Sense of Independence in Recovery

For parents to witness their young adult child struggle to live independently is a frustrating experience. Typically, the transition to responsible adulthood happens when young people reach a certain age. They are motivated to begin college, start a new page in life, search for a job, and support themselves. The rites of passage into adulthood can be encouraging and exciting.

However, today, more and more young adults are losing this kind of motivation. Some seem to be "stuck" in both emotional and financial immaturity. When young adults who lack the motivation to live independently develop habits of using drugs and alcohol, the matter can worsen for parents. In such cases, they are now faced with the double challenge of supporting their young adult child's recovery from substance addiction and encouraging their independence.

Identifying Enabling Factors and Codependency at Home

The first step parents should take is re-examining their relationship with their young adult child. Family history, parenting styles, and the parent-child relationship can all be associated with a young adult child's lack of independence and motivation. For example, over-protective parents tend to raise children who lack autonomy. Furthermore, domineering parents tend to produce emotionally troubled children more vulnerable to substance use disorder (SUD). Childhood trauma is another factor contributing to mental health issues in young people.

Other subtle parts in the family dynamic, such as a sense of entitlement, social isolation, and unhealthy boundaries, are also conducive to a young adult's diminished cognitive and emotional stability, which then contributes to the double challenge. Drugs and alcohol may aggravate the problem of dependence, which creates a vicious cycle. In short, parents need to realize the connection between their role in this codependency and the young adult child's current health crisis. Denialism is the first thing a parent should do away with.

How to Support Your Adult Child During Their Recovery

Parents have an instinct to micro-manage their children. However, once confronted by this dual challenge, things can feel increasingly out of control. Parents need to unlearn certain patterns and reset healthy boundaries in the family relationship. It is important to note that every healthy relationship needs healthy boundaries, which serve as the defense lines against cumulative crises.

Recovery from addiction can be full of ups and downs. Your adult child needs to navigate this process on their own. It is going to be even more difficult than usual, but that is the only way out of the dual crises. However, this does not mean that you no longer support your adult child. On the contrary, this is the kind of "tough love" that your child has needed for a long time. Maybe it takes a real crisis for both of you to realize and let go of this codependency.

What you can do to support your young adult child is empower them in making decisions. With healthy boundaries, you can encourage them without cheerleading. Meanwhile, both the parent and the young adult child need ongoing education about addiction and recovery. While quitting drugs and alcohol can be freeing, young people in recovery can still feel out of control. Support from parents, family, and friends helps keep the young person grounded. It is important to remember that young people in recovery need a fresh start.

Helping Your Child Rebuild an Independent Self-image

Young adults who lack independence and develop addictive habits often struggle with low self-esteem and a negative self-image. Researchers have found that substance use and other behavioral problems are related to a person's confidence in themself. As parents, you are at the best place to support your child by affirming their worth. To do this, you need to repair the relationship and keep lines of communication open. 

Verbalize your love and support. Avoid using judgmental tones and words. Always try to find common ground to deepen the connection. Remember, as a parent, your goal is not to criticize your child's behavior but to help them recognize for themselves that it is time to make some significant changes in life.

Since addiction affects the entire family, and unhealthy family systems do not heal themselves automatically, it is important to rely on ongoing professional support during your child's treatment and recovery journey. External experts can help diagnose problems, and therapists and counselors have effective tools to coach your child toward rebuilding a healthy self-image. Parents can also benefit from these services. A professional interventionist can connect you with programs such as family behavioral therapy. 

If you have a young adult child who lacks independence and also struggles with substance addiction, that is a wake-up call for you to examine many things about your life. When feeling overwhelmed, you can work with an interventionist. At South Florida Intervention, our experienced interventionists and parent coaches are dedicated to helping clients rebuild a healthy and purposeful life. We understand the challenging dynamics between young adults who are both dependent and addicted to drugs and alcohol and their parents. This is why we strive to support you and your loved ones on the journey toward recovery. Our recovery coaches can also help parents understand more about sobriety and what it takes to sustain recovery. You can benefit from a range of services, including recovery coaching, parent coaching, sober escort, and detailed case management. We can also connect you with trusted health professionals who have plenty of experience in maintaining long-term sobriety. Call us today at (202) 390-2273.