How to maintain your power when your child is struggling with addiction

“Where did my life go?”
“Why do I feel so powerless?”
“What can I do to get back the relationships and life that I lost?”

It starts with the signs: Your child is using drugs or alcohol and could be addicted, and you know it. They no longer look or act like the child you raised, and they’re constantly facing crisis after crisis without navigating through them. You hide this from your friends and family because you feel responsible and like a failure as a parent.

No matter what, you’ll still love your child, but seeing them like this is painful. Will they ever get back to a decent life? Will they reach the potential you know they have inside of them? All you want is to see them healthy, happy, and doing well again. You are in pain watching them struggle.

Why do I feel powerless when it comes to my child’s addiction?

Even simple things make you feel stressed out. When the phone rings and it’s your child on the other end, or they knock on the door to visit -- you don’t know how these interactions will end, and it’s stressful for you and for them. Stress can manifest in the following ways:

  • Not sleeping well.
  • Feeling physically or mentally unwell.
  • Emotional and easily irritated.
  • Loss of appetite or overeating.
  • Low energy.
  • Fuzzy mind/muddled thinking.

All of this contributes to the feeling that you’re powerless. You’re a mother; your role has always been the one to keep the peace. It’s clear that your adult child is struggling with addiction but you don’t want to speak up. You’ve lost your voice -- when you do finally speak up, nobody listens to you, or you end up not saying everything you want to say.

When you feel powerless even after trying to get back to a place of control

You’re feeling this way because your child is struggling with addiction. You’ve likely tried these strategies:

Negotiating — You offer time or money as an incentive for your child to change or get help;
Arguing — Your frustration and stress often leads to arguments stemming from your pain;
Pleading — When all else fails, as a last resort you beg your child to seek help;
Crying — By yourself, you find that you’re crying more often because of your child’s addiction;
Yelling — You raise your voice when you feel like your words are being ignored, time after time;
Threatening — You threaten and issue an ultimatum that you hope your addicted child will take seriously.

First, part of the way this disease of addiction behaves is to blame everyone else but themselves. You need to know that you are not at fault for your child’s addiction.

Second, addiction is a disease of the brain, and negotiating never works. Your addicted child will say anything to get what they want from you without living up to their end of the bargain.

Third, someone with an addiction will continue to take from you as long as you’re willing to give the disease what it needs -- your time, your money, your life. This disease leaves no room for your wants or needs.

So what makes my approach different? And why does it work?

There’s a good chance that none of those strategies have worked; otherwise you wouldn’t still be seeking out a way to encourage your addicted child to choose recovery. It’s time to take a new approach -- the one that I learned -- and I want to help you learn how to do it, too. 

I call this approach Love Another Way, and it will fundamentally change the relationship you currently have with your addicted child. You’re no longer the person that gives into their demands because you’re simply too stressed or tired or frustrated. You become a person who takes control of their life and speaks up, voicing your own needs and ensuring your priorities are met.

Ready to regain your power? Try this simple experiment today.

It’s easy to assume that others in our lives know what we want, but that’s rarely ever true. Taking back your power means being able to let others know where your boundaries lie, and what needs you have. This is nearly impossible when you’re interacting with your addicted child.

Today, forget everything you’ve done up until now. Take a small step forward in finding your voice again: Download the Personal Power Experiment. You’ll find the results to be one of two things: You’ll either W:Win or you’ll L: Learn -- either way, the outcome will be a step forward in knowing how to speak up and regain your power.

Click here to get your Personal Power Experiment.

Choose a safe space to practice expressing what you need, what matters to you, and how you feel. The more comfortable you get with this process, the easier it will become when you’re ready to talk to your child about these often-uncomfortable concepts.

Keep working on finding your power again by watching this webinar.

Remember -- you’re not speaking to your child; you’re having a conversation with their addiction. Whether or not you’ve tried the Personal Power Experiment, this webinar workshop dives deeper into the challenges that surround these types of conversations. Let me know how it most helps you please.

I hope you find a pocket of joy in your day today.
Reach out anytime, because I care.


Certified Family Recovery Specialist (CFRS)

Leave a Comment:

izle says November 16, 2020

Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and also the rest of the website is really good.

    Barbara Decker says November 16, 2020

    Thank you so much for your kind words, izle:) Have a wonderful week.

sikis izle says November 13, 2020

Thanks again for the article post. Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic. Odette Erastus Giles

    Barbara Decker says November 13, 2020

    Thank you so much. I’m trying to put up a new post each month:) I also email on this topic and you can join my email list by clicking either of the buttons on the blog post itself.

Christi says October 26, 2020

My beautiful daughter is an alcoholic. She gets drunk every day. On top of that she is a Type 1 diabetic. The combination of the two is deadly. She knows this but seems to not care. She says she likes how she feels when she’s drunk. She drives around drunk. She is self harming but She is really masking a lot of pain. I think she thinks pain is what she deserves. She Can’t hold a job except to be a bartender. Worst job for her but it’s her comfort zone. She lives with me & pays rent & her bills. She’s so smart but I see her wasting away in front of my eyes. Everyone I’ve talked to says she has to hit rock bottom. I don’t believe that. I think it’s the worst advice. She could have a (& has had) seizures, go into a coma &/or die from diabetes complications. I don’t even try to talk to her anymore about drinking as it does no good. I know she has to make the decision to get help but I just don’t see her doing that. So I wait & do nothing. And that’s what’s frustrating & frightening. Do I just sit back & wait for her to hurt herself or someone else? I live my life without letting her interfere but emotionally I’m exhausted. Diabetes & alcohol is such a dangerous mix. My daughter is 29 & became diabetic when she was 19 nearly a year after a traumatic personal experience. She was hit twice with 2 life changing events. I do not like watching her destroy her life. But she just doesn’t seem to care. The alcohol controls her now. It’s heartbreaking to see the person she’s become. I miss my daughter. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

    Barbara Decker says October 27, 2020

    I am so sorry for what both you are your daughter have been going through. Have you signed up for either my workshop? Or opted in for my free guide, the 3 Things Your Adult Addicted Child Wants You To Know and Can’t Tell You?

    Either thing will get you on my email list if you are not already. I email about this topic and run programs to help moms through this. I can help. Please reach out.

    My website is and my email is

June says October 18, 2020

Hope springs Eternal, is my pray, I love my son, however don’t know how to show tough love, my only child and I have MS, stress really bad on a person with MS

    Barbara Decker says October 18, 2020

    Hi June – thanks for your note. I’m so sorry that you are dealing with both addiction and MS. My approach is not tough love – it is Love Another Way – a way which allows us to support our children in a way that is healthy for us and shifts things so they are more likely to choose recovery. Have you watched the workshop? Barbara

Shelly says October 18, 2020

I don’t blame myself , I do overeat , it’s my escape ,

    Barbara Decker says October 18, 2020

    Hi Shelly – I hear you. I eat ice cream most days even when I get up in the AM, hop on the scale, and say “no ice cream today”. The day goes on. I eat ice cream:)

Debbie says October 15, 2020

My son is still in addiction he had full control of
My life as my husband and I were not on the same
Page I set boundaries but he wouldn’t listen. I had no control of myself or my home. So I had to leave my son has anger issues as well so when he got made he would destroy our home now he is in a homeless shelter . And I don’t know how to show him that I do love him

    Barbara Decker says October 15, 2020

    Wow, Debbie. That sounds very difficult. Have you watched my workshop? If not, please take a listen and see how my approach to this resonates with you. You’ll know during the workshop if I’m the “right person” to help you get to a better place. I can tell you that I’ve worked with a lot of moms in similar situations and there is a way through this. I’ve had several moms who have had to leave the family home for their own well-being, and others who say they want to just disappear and become someone new.

    Donna Parsons says October 18, 2020

    mine was in a homeless shelter but he left, not sure if voluntarily or made to leave like another one he was in

    are you saying you left your husband?

      Barbara Decker says October 18, 2020

      I am divorced. The divorce has nothing to do with my son’s addiction.

Nancy says October 10, 2020

What a difference this program has made in my life! In the past, I was frustrated, angry and depressed due to our son’s addiction to drugs. Barbara has opened my eyes to the fact that my past efforts to “fix” him could actually drive him deeper into addiction . I needed to “love him another way” and by setting priorities in my life and creating boundaries I would not only experience a better quality of life for my husband and I but also increase the possibility that our son might eventually accept help with his recovery. There are no guarantees for his path but for us, it’s like a breath of fresh air and feeling more in control. I wish I had found this program much earlier but am thankful for the encouragement I have received. Barbara and all of the other AMAZING parents in our group taught me how to approach this difficult and sometimes embarrassing subject. I hope one day any parents dealing with this will have access to this program!

    Barbara Decker says October 10, 2020

    Thank you so much Nancy. I love the comment about “breath of fresh air” and the amazing shifts I see you making from when you joined those short weeks ago to now:) Well done!

Evelyn Jones says October 9, 2020

Barbara’s approach has made it possible for me to live without guilt – even though my son is still deep into addiction. It’s helped me accept that I can’t control the addiction but I can take control over my own life.

    Barbara Decker says October 9, 2020

    Thank you Evelyn. I’m sorry that your son is still “in it” AND know that you have been a warrior woman in taking control over your own life, and that you know in your head and your heart that this is the best thing you can do for your son. So brave. So determined. I’m so impressed.

Sarah A says October 9, 2020

This wonderful program has really helped me to regain my power. To realize that I am not at fault. Addiction is truly a disease that takes control, but we must not let it take control of OUR life as well. I have learned to set boundaries and how to support my daughter while in her recovery. Barbara’s wealth of knowledge and the support of all the other parents in the group has been tremendous.

    Barbara Decker says October 9, 2020

    Thank you so much Sarah! You are a great student and have reaped the benefits of that in a much improved relationship with your daughter. You’ve been open minded enough to tackle this when your daughter was still young and I applaud you for that. You have given her a great gift!

Barbara Decker says October 7, 2020

Nancy- thank you so much! You are doing amazing work and hearing about how much better your last conversation with your son went gave me shivers on my spine. Thanks so much for sharing this feedback!

Pat N. says October 7, 2020

This life saving program helped me understand why what I had done in the past did not work. I was not dealing with my loving daughter, I was dealing with her manipulative, life sucking addiction. Barbara taught me skills that are working to support my daughter in recovery and help me to take care of myself. I have been in the program for five months and Barbara and her community of moms have been there for me every day.

    Barbara Decker says October 7, 2020

    Thank you so much Pat! Your approach to learning something new is awe-inspiring. Such a wonderful open mine. Such a solution-oriented warrior you are:)

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