Help For Families: What to Do When the Head of the Household Is Addicted

Family arguing in front of their kid

Julie is only six years old, but she has already been exposed to the damaging effects of drug addiction. Most of the time she lives in a small mobile home with her mother and two younger brothers, though they are sometimes joined by her father. All too often, Julie is woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of her parents arguing. On these occasions, Julie’s mother comes to get her, telling her to dress quickly and bring her brothers out to the car. She drives them over to and drops them off at a friend’s house—where they sometimes stay for several days or even a week at a time. They’ve moved three times in the past two years—from a large, comfortable house in a nice neighborhood to a smaller house in an unfamiliar neighborhood and finally to the small mobile home. Where once she had her own room Julie now shares a room with her brothers—their beds are nothing more than a mattress shoved into a corner.


Julie remembers a happier time—her family eating dinner together when her father arrived home from work, spending time together on the weekends, taking trips to the beach and vacations into the mountains, but all that has changed. Her mother struggles to prepare dinner with whatever she can find in the kitchen, and when Julie does see her father he looks tired, sick and much older. Jill knows that something is wrong, but she doesn’t know that her father, the primary provider for her family, is addicted to drugs.

Family Addiction

While addiction doesn’t mix well with anyone, addiction and parents can be particularly distressing to deal with, especially when the addicted parent is the primary income provider. Fortunately, there are things that family members can do when the head of the household is addicted:

  • Learn about addiction. While it can be more than just a little bit devastating to discover that a loved one is addicted to drugs, it is even more devastating when this individual is responsible for supporting the family. The concern and worry you have for your loved one’s health and welfare is compounded by the stress of trying to support the household without their help. When you understand addiction you can better help your loved one address and overcome it, instead of lashing out in fear and anger.
  • Don’t enable your loved one to continue their addiction. Drug addicts will routinely make up excuses for why they cannot uphold their responsibilities. If you accept these excuses, you are essentially enabling your loved one to continue their addiction. Instead, you need to insist that they continue to be a contributing member of the household. If they are no longer bringing in the same amount of income, gently but firmly demand that they rectify this. Insist that they continue to participate in the family activities, and don’t allow them to shirk their responsibilities.
  • Find and get your loved one into an addiction treatment program. If your loved one and the primary income provider of your household needs specialized, executive addiction treatment, ensure that they get it rapidly. This will ensure they get the help they need to not only face and resolve their addiction problems but also gain the various skills they need to prevent a future relapse.
  • Take care of your own health and well-being. In order to support your loved one throughout their recovery, you will need to be in good health yourself. Make sure you are getting enough food, rest and exercise, and connect with a support group as needed to ensure that you are well taken care of.

Drug addiction in the primary income provider doesn’t have to tear a family apart. With the right support and treatment, an addicted family member can make a full and lasting recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and need help, contact Narconon today.


Jessica Bradham

Jessica is a Registered Drug and Alcohol Technician with a desire to help others find real solutions to the ever-growing problems associated with addiction.