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American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

How to Help an Addict or Alcoholic Grandparent

Drug addiction and alcoholism have no particular age preference. Addiction can affect anyone from teens to senior citizens. When the sufferer is a grandparent, the effects on the rest of the family can be devastating. Family members are often left with the question of how to help an addicted grandparent. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, alcohol abuse and alcoholism have a yearly cost of between $40 and $60 billion dollars due to loss of production, medical care, criminal activity and social programs.
“Addiction can affect anyone from teens to senior citizens.”
Help is available for both alcoholic grandparents as well as those who have become drug addicts. It is just a matter of getting the grandparent into a program that is geared toward handling the specific addiction.

Alcoholism and Addiction Treatment

Determining that the grandparent has a problem with drugs and alcohol can go far in determining how to help that person. The symptoms and signs of drug addiction in a grandparent differ according to the drug that he or she is using. You can identify an addicted grandparent by his or her drug-seeking activities. If the grandparent is seeking out the drug by doctor shopping or through activities that are inherently dangerous, it is a sign that the drug use has passed on to the addictive phase and that the grandparent needs help.

Determining that a grandparent is an alcoholic by looking for symptoms is much easier. Symptoms to look for include:

  • Drinking throughout the day
  • Drinking at specific times each day
  • Irritability when not drinking
  • Keeping a constant supply of alcohol available
  • Hiding alcohol

Getting the grandparent in your life to admit to having an addiction to drugs or alcohol is the first step in how to help them. There is a variety of ways to garner this realization. Sometimes simply having a frank discussion with the grandparent about the addictive behavior and the effects the addiction is having on the rest of the family is all that is necessary. Other times, a full intervention is required with the help of a drug counselor. Once the grandparent admits to having a problem, the real work can begin towards dealing with a drug-addicted grandparent or one suffering from alcoholism.

Treatment Programs for Grandparents

medically assisted detoxThe wide variety of programs available for treating addicts and alcoholics gives you a choice in finding one that deals with the particular addiction in question, as well as finding a location in which the grandparent is comfortable. While treatment programs differ in their individual approaches slightly, most successful programs follow the same basic procedures.

When determining how to help an addicted grandparent, medically assisted detox is a necessary process to prevent the onset of drug withdrawal. Upon checking into the program, the addicted or alcoholic grandparent is sent through detox to remove the substance from his or her system. Withdrawal is the normal reaction of an addict’s body to the sudden removal of the drug from the addict’s system. If the grandparent were to stop taking the drug, cease drinking completely or greatly lower drug doses without the aid of a detox program, withdrawal would soon begin. While withdrawal is rarely life-threatening, it is usually uncomfortable. A detox program controls the removal of the addictive substance from the patient’s system without the onset of severe withdrawal symptoms.

After the detox process, the grandparent is then placed into a rehab facility for extensive therapy. Rehab should always follow the detox process, with the quality of the facility paying a large part in your decisions concerning how to help an addicted grandparent. The therapy received is provided on both a one-on-one basis and in a group setting. There’s also a full medical exam given to the patient upon entering the program to determine if the grandparent suffers from any medical issues that were covered up by the symptoms related to the drug or alcohol use. In regard to any hidden conditions discovered, the rehab facility can make arrangements to treat those conditions as well as the addiction concurrently.
“Withdrawal is the normal reaction of an addict’s body to the sudden removal of the drug from the addict’s system.”
The one-one-one therapy used on patients in a rehab facility is behavioral and psychological in nature, helping family members in their efforts in determining how to help an addicted grandparent. Its intent is to find the reasons that the grandparent is taking the drugs or heavily drinking and to develop tools the patient can use to prevent further addictive behavior. Behavioral therapy replaces the destructive addictive activity with healthier behaviors when the triggers of drug and alcohol use occur. Group therapy serves as a support mechanism for the drug user. During these group sessions, the grandparent is asked to share his or her experiences with drug addiction while listening to the experiences of others. This helps remove the sense of isolation that the patient feels, showing the patient that there are others with the same experiences and problems with drug and alcohol use. For more information on how to help an addicted grandparent, call .


  • Half of all traffic deaths are the result of alcohol abuse.
  • One out of 13 adults abuse alcohol.
  • Most addiction treatment is for alcoholism at 41 percent, with 20 percent of drug-related treatment being for opiates like heroin.
  • About 1.8 percent of treatment admissions to substance abuse programs are those 60 years old and up.

Recovery Support Programs

After leaving the rehab facility, the grandparent still has work to do to remain clean and sober. With the help of support groups like AA or Al-Anon, the grandparent can continue to work on the toolset developed in rehab that provides resistance to the drug or alcohol abuse. Further information on how to help an addicted grandparent is only a phone call away at .

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