If you’re the parent, friend, or guardian of someone struggling with mental illness or addiction, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that around 10% of people will have a substance abuse issue at some point in their lives. Another 52.9 million people in the United States are diagnosed with a mental illness. All of these people have parents, family, and loved ones that care about their well-being.
If you’re wondering, “How can I help my son with his mental health,” and are looking for answers for their mental health disorder or addiction, below are some key points to keep in mind. While there might be a stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorder, there are many ways you can help break down barriers that prevent your son from seeking help, such as flexible treatment options like sober living.
Does Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder Affect Adult Children?
Mental illness and addiction can affect anyone at any age. In fact, for many, mental illness begins during early adulthood or after a traumatic incident. Mental illness can be difficult to spot, especially for those that are hesitant to admit their son has a disorder.
Some common mental health issues that can impact your son in adulthood include:
Depression: This condition is characterized by low moods, loss of interest in activities once found enjoyable, and in the most severe cases, issues with suicidal ideation and thoughts of suicide. In the most severe cases, the best thing to do for your son is to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or emergency services.
Anxiety: Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting around one in five men. For these men, symptoms can include panic attacks, general and pervasive feelings of worry, and an inability to get rid of worry, among others.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorders: PTSD is a condition caused by a previous traumatic incident. This condition is well-known for affecting veterans with traumatic experiences in battle or war. Around 500,000 U.S. veterans that have served in wars in the previous 13 years are diagnosed with PTSD.
Substance Use Disorder: Men are more likely than women to suffer from mental illness and substance use disorders, which include binge drinking, opioid use disorders, and addiction to other substances.
Mental Health Stigma in Males
Mental illness is common in male adults and children but is still surrounded by negative stigma. Although 6 million males suffer every year from depression, males are less likely than females to seek help to recover from their mental health disorders.
In addition, men also struggle with substance use disorders at a rate two to three times more than women.
Sadly, males are also more likely to die by suicide than females, and depression and suicide are listed as the leading causes of death in men. While many men suffer from mental illnesses, it takes courage for them to ask for advice and get help.
One thing you can do to help your son get through their pain is to recognize the signs that they are struggling with mental health issues or addiction.
Some of the signs you might notice if your adult child is struggling with a mental health disorder or addiction include:
Loss of interest in things that once brought joy
Increased anxiety or panic attacks
Difficulty with relationships with family members, friends, and even children
Increased dependence on substances to function throughout the day
Power struggles and increasing fights about substance abuse
Inability to stop using substances like drugs or alcohol, even after repeated attempts
Withdrawal symptoms when they stop using substances, such as nausea, vomiting, seizures, agitation, and irritability among others
Feelings of loneliness and increasing isolation
Psychosis such as hallucinations, delusions, seeing or hearing things that aren’t there, or paranoia (this could be associated with psychoactive substances or serious disorders like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia)
Overcoming Barriers to Treatment
If you notice these signs listed above, it’s important to offer resources and support for your children. Below are some of the barriers to treatment that might prevent your son from seeking therapy or substance abuse counseling.
Some of the many barriers to treatment include the view of society on males which can lead to “toxic masculinity”. Males are expected to simply “suck it up,” when in fact, phrases like “be a man” or “boys will be boys” can severely damage your loved one’s confidence.
These phrases and attitudes can make it difficult for your son to address their mental health issue for fear of being seen as weak. As such, it’s important to refrain from using these phrases and understand that a mental health condition affects the physiology of a loved one. Using these phrases can also be considered abusive.
Lack of Knowledge Surrounding Mental Health Disorders and Addiction
Sadly, 50% of Americans don’t believe that addiction and substance abuse issues are a disease, and instead, believe that people engage in drug use by choice.
This damaging point of view can make it difficult for your adult child to seek help for their substance or alcohol use.
It’s important to know that addiction to substances like drugs and alcohol is considered a chronic disease. It leads to physical changes in the brain and brain chemistry that can be difficult to recover from in the short term.
In addition, evidence also shows that mental health disorders are caused by:
Biological factors in the makeup of the human body and brain
Environmental factors such as access to healthcare and poverty
Psychological factors such as past trauma
These factors also suggest that men do not suffer from mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, simply because they can’t “Get over it.” It takes years of treatment from local mental health clinics, support groups, and even medications to help your loved one recover from mental disorders.
Lack of Family Members that Encourage Treatment
If other family members, spouses, parents, siblings, or even children aren’t supportive of your son seeking recovery options, this can prevent your son from getting help.
The entire family must be on board with the recovery process. When the whole family is supportive of your son seeking help, it makes it easier for your son to seek help and know that they have the backing of their loved ones.
Family therapy can also be beneficial, with family approaches being one of the most successful methods of treatment in the recovery process for young adults addicted to drugs and alcohol.
How to Be a Healthy Part of Your Child’s Life and Recovery
If you want to encourage your son to get help and get treatment, it’s best to do so in a healthy, non-confrontational way. To do so, follow these tips below.
Codependency affects couples and parents alike. When a parent is codependent, they might feel like they don’t have their own lives and emotions. Parents make their children’s addiction or mental health issues a priority.
They might enable their adult children to continue their substance use unknowingly by providing shelter, and funds, or even dismissing an illness altogether.
Set boundaries with your adult child if you want to help them overcome their addiction or mental health issues. To do so:
Do not be available to provide funds for substances.
Choose to offer emotional support to your loved one during treatment, but don’t be a bystander to their drug addiction.
Refuse to withstand physical, verbal, or emotional abuse if your family member suffers from outbursts or anger.
Set time limits for your loved one to come home.
Refuse to interact with your child if they continue to use substances for safety reasons.
Encourage medication use, and make it known they need to continue treatment to play an active role in the family.
While these may be difficult to implement, they can prevent you from becoming codependent and furthering your child’s behaviors.
Discussing Financing Options
If your adult child is under the age of 26, you might be able to get them treatment using your health insurance plan. However, if your adult family member doesn’t have access to your insurance plan, additional resources can help them get treatment for mental illness and addiction.
Discuss with your son the importance of getting help. Remind them that you’re on the same team and provide financing options such as:
Using state or federally-funded health insurance to pay for treatment.
Using scholarships to outpatient programs like sober living homes.
Make arrangements with work so your loved one can continue to get help while working. This can be made possible with the help of sober living programs.
One of the most important things to give your son is emotional support. The more support you give your child, the more likely they will engage in treatment. Studies have shown the more support you give your son, the more likely they are to continue substance abuse treatment. The same can be said of continued treatment for mental illness.
Offering Sober Living Flexible Treatment Options
Many adult sons will want flexible treatment options before considering getting help. One of the best flexible treatment options you can offer your son is sober living. Sober living homes provide outpatient treatment that can help your son engage in recovery while also maintaining their regular duties at work, at home, or with family. This can include individual therapy, group therapy, or counseling for adult children.
In addition to outpatient treatment, high-quality sober living homes also offer educational programs. An educational program can help your son gain valuable skills to improve their quality of life and ability to function in the world without drugs and alcohol. They can also help if their mental illness has affected their finances and education. Not only this, but these programs provide a stable community and accountability, which can help set a successful foundation in recovery for your son or loved one. One said program that has provided all of these services and more for over 35 years in New Life House.
Our educational programs and New Life House provide:
Money management classes
Life skills classes
Support group meetings are also available at sober living homes. While your son is transitioning out of inpatient treatment, they can engage in outpatient treatment, support group meetings with their peers, and partake in educational and family programs to improve their long-term sobriety outcomes.
Contact New Life House Recovery For Substance Abuse and Mental Health Help Today
Sober living homes are the most flexible treatment arrangement for adult sons who are parents, and if your son wants to start on the right path but still needs to take care of other priorities such as children, education, and work. They can also help your teenage or adolescent son or young adults that want a more stable living environment while still engaging in recovery.
You don’t have to overcome recovery from mental illness and addiction alone. If you need additional resources and treatment options for your son, call New Life House Sober Living today so we can get your son started on the right path toward sobriety and better health.