Watching a loved one suffer from addiction can be excruciating no matter what the relationship, but it can be especially difficult and unbearable if the addict is your child. Whether your child is a teenager, a young adult, or an older adult, if alcohol or drugs has appeared to have taken over the little boy or girl you once raised, your heart is surely broken, and you likely spend the majority of your hours and days trying to figure out where you went wrong and how to fix this problem.
Being the parent of a child who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is tragic, but there are several truths you must know to help you to move forward. Read on to learn some basic facts about addiction and how to deal with the situation in a rational and productive manner that will hopefully at some point lead to treatment and later on, recovery for your son or daughter.
Truths for Parents of Addicts
- It’s not your fault. Your actions did not cause your child to become a drug user or addict so put that idea away right now. Sure, it’s important for parents to talk to their children about drugs and alcohol and also to set a good example, but even if you did not do either of these things, it’s still not your fault. Addiction is a disease and it happens to some of the best people in the world. If you keep blaming yourself for decisions and choices made by your son or daughter, you will never be able to move forward from here. Surely there are things you would have done differently, but the past is the past, and there is nothing you can do about it. However, there are things you can do in the present and future.
- You can support your child, but you can’t fix this. Many if not most or all parents want to fix things when they see their child suffering, but some things are just out of your hands. You can offer advice and support but you cannot fix this on your own. It will be your son or daughter’s choice to get clean and sober when they feel ready; you cannot make this decision for them.
- Your child is fully capable of lying to you and stealing from you. Your son or daughter loves you, and you obviously love him or her. However, when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they will often lie, cheat, or steal to get what they want. Don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean your child loves you any less. It is a simply a feature and aspect of the addiction.
- It will probably get worse before it gets better. If you think things are bad now, be prepared for them to get worse. Addiction tends to continue to move forward on a downward slope until the addict does something about it. There is little you can do about this other than brace yourself and prepare for it.
- Although it’s easier said than done, don’t be an enabler. As a parent you surely want to help your son or daughter any way that you can. He or she may come to you for money, or bail, or to borrow the car, or for a ride, or for a place to stay when all else has failed. Be helpful, of course, but also be wary. It is very easy for helping to turn into enabling. Don’t make use and abuse easy for your child. Although it is tempting and it feels like helping, you are simply making things worse.
- Rock bottom may be different for your child than it is for you. Everyone who knows about addiction knows about the concept of rock bottom. For you, you may feel that your child’s addiction has brought them to their rock bottom when they lose their job and get evicted from their apartment. For them, it may be far lower than that. Even when your son or daughter is living under a bridge, he or she may still not feel that rock bottom has been reached. You can’t force someone to go into treatment. They have to hit their own rock bottom, and then they may be willing to get help.
- Express unconditional love. Loving your child is never wrong. Although turning your son or daughter away when he or she is in need may be heart wrenching and may feel like abandonment, you are doing it because of love and because of your desire not to be an enabler. Even in the most difficult moments, remind your child that you love him or her – and do it often. Your child may lash out at you and may not believe you openly, but deep down he or she knows. Eventually he or she will hopefully see the light and will turn to you for the help you both know is needed. The person you love is still in there; keep on loving him or her.
- Love may not be enough. Even when you love someone with all of your heart, it may not be enough. Accepting this may be one of the most difficult things you ever have to endure when it comes to your relationship with your drug or alcohol addicted child.
- Others may not understand. People very close to you, such as your friends and family, may not understand what it is like to have a child suffering from addiction. Forgive them, for they know not what they say and do. Some things they may say to you might be harsh. Others who you did not think would understand may be some of the most supportive. Take it as it comes, and attend support groups to help you get through.
- Take care of yourself. You will need lots of self-care and probably mental health or counseling services yourself if your son or daughter is actively addicted to drugs or alcohol. Don’t neglect yourself just because you are worried about your child. If you are not in your best condition, it will be impossible to adequately help your son or daughter when the time comes for it.
- Keep the faith. People do recover. It may seem dark and impossible in the present, but many people do break free of their drug and alcohol addictions and go on to live happy and productive lives entirely free of these substances. Don’t lose hope.
- Life will never be the same. Whether your child remains actively addicted for the time being or if he or she seeks treatment and finds success, your lives are changed forever. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the latter case, but just know that things will always be different from this point forward. Keep supporting your child and keep taking steps forward one day at a time. You can find success together. Hang in there, offer support, and hope for the best – every day.
There is almost nothing more difficult in the world than watching your child suffer – especially from addiction. You can help him or her by offering love and support, but recovery is up to your child. Take care of yourself in the meantime so you can offer the best version of you for support.
At Clear Sky Recovery, we would love to help your child to break free from his or her addiction and to walk with them on the first steps to a new and healthy life. At our facility in Cancun, Mexico, our ibogaine treatment will help your child to get to the root of the addiction, discover more about himself or herself, and will aid them in finding the strength and answers they need to become drug free. Please call us today for more information. We are standing by to answer your questions.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.