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A mother leaning her head on her son’s shoulder.

Your child got sober. Now you want to know how to help an addicted child void relapse. Find relapse prevention tips for parents with addicted children.

Your life came to a screeching halt when you discovered your child was addicted to drugs or alcohol. It doesn’t matter that your child is an adult. As a parent, enduring your child’s addiction (no matter how old they are) is one of the most painful and difficult challenges in life.

You and your entire family fought tooth and nail right alongside your son or daughter, and everyone prevailed. Your child got clean.

Sobriety is life-altering. It can give your child a new lease on life and help the entire family glean a new prospective. This chapter, however, is not without its stressors and moments of worry.

As a parent, you’re hard-wired to worry about your child’s health, safety, actions and whereabouts. Especially after witnessing your child’s battle with addiction, you’re now faced with a new set of concerns that revolve around the potential for relapse.

We understand exactly where you’re at. Thoughts of your child using again can be a new source of anxiety. Fortunately, there are effective ways you can help prevent your child from relapsing.

4 Relapse Prevention Tips for Parents with Addicted Children

To truly help your child thrive as a recovering addict, you must create a culture of leadership in your house. The underlying premise is simple: create or reinforce a strong system of beliefs and values, and establish enduring respect and trust. To build this culture, follow these tips:

1. Be the Example
From day one, your child has looked to you to lead the way and be the example. As your child navigates sobriety and deals with temptation and addiction triggers, they will still be following in your footsteps.

Try your hardest to match your words with your actions in every area of your life.

  • Show them that having a steady, honest job can support a happy, prosperous life.
  • Show them how eating clean and exercising can make the body feel and look amazing.
  • Show them how having a healthy and positive social support network can help enrich life.
  • Show them what it means to set and work toward goals. Even if you don’t reach them, show your child how life allows for new goals to be set and new paths to be forged.
  • Show them what it means to be honest and the importance of the action.
  • Show them how to take care of possessions, like your house, yard, car, furniture, etc. Materialism is not the objective; being proud of your home and all that you’ve worked for to build a life and family is.

The list could continue, but the point is, while your child is influenced by many things in life, your actions, words and attitudes have the strongest effect on them. Remember, you are helping them become a strong, independent, contributing member of society.

When it comes to drugs and alcohol, don’t use illegal substances yourself, and don’t drink in front of your child or have alcohol in the house.

2. Institute Clear Boundaries and Consequences
For a child who is, in many ways, relearning a lot about limits, boundaries and associated consequences if restrictions are ignored, you must explicitly tell your child what you expect from them.

When setting boundaries, be sure they are specific and measurable. Straightforward examples include:

  • I must know where you are and who you are with at all times. (Remember, the majority of people use alcohol or illicit drugs as a result of peer influences.)
  • When you go out, you are not allowed to drink alcohol. I’ve already talked to your friends to make sure they keep an eye on you.
  • Call me when you get home (if your child lives on their own).
  • You must be home by 11:00 p.m. (if your child is still living with you).

It may seem weird setting boundaries with your adult child, but it pays off in the long run. When boundaries are strict, there is little to no wiggle room for your child to make excuses as to why a rule was broken. Additionally, clear expectations promote well-defined consequences.

3. Open Lines of Communication
Communication is vital to any parent-child relationship, and it can be the deciding factor when your child is working through a hard day and is faced with addiction triggers. Do they relapse? Or do they turn to you with their concerns and talk everything through?

An open and non-judgmental line of communication starts with you. When you initiate hard conversations with your child, deliver absolute honesty, actively listen when your child speaks and offer helpful, constructive thoughts and feedback, they will know that they can confide in you with everything.

Research continues to show that people who have strong relationships with their parents and feel that they can go to their parents for help are far less likely to use drugs or abuse alcohol.

4. Know the Warning Signs of Addiction
Trudging through your child’s addiction probably forced you to learn a lot about what certain substances can do to the mind and body and how addiction can start in the first place. Every person’s addiction journey is unique to only them, and you may have a good idea of what to look out for as you support your child in sobriety.

One of the biggest warning signs is a change in mood, emotionality or mental state. Physical signs may not present themselves right away.

You know your child better than anyone. When something seems off, don’t hesitate to act on it and get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Perhaps they just had a bad day, but it’s better to be safe than have your child slip into a full-blown relapse.

Life-Changing Addiction Recovery and Relapse Prevention at Covenant Hills

At Covenant Hills, we’re addiction recovery experts, but most of us are also parents. We understand your feelings and acknowledge the journey you’ve traveled. If your child is currently battling addiction, or has relapsed, let us help them return to the person they were made to be.

Through our faith-based addiction rehab program, we work one-on-one with your child and help them
center their mind, revive their body and awaken their soul. We help them put an end to their addiction and learn how to successfully avoid a relapse.

Learn about our gender-specific, faith-based addiction treatment programs, or contact us for a free and confidential assessment.


Lee, Joseph, M.D. Recovering My Kid: Parenting Young Adults in Treatment and Beyond. Accessed August 1, 2018.