Last Updated on November 16, 2017 by Dr. Alberto Solà

When you discover that your son or daughter is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it’s natural to immediately begin blaming yourself – but don’t fall into that trap! It is not your fault, and self-blame and regret will keep you from effectively helping your child on his or her road to recovery.  Many complex internal and external factors play a part in the development of an addiction, and although you may feel that you made many parenting mistakes, you simply cannot blame yourself for something that is so complicated and many faceted.  Now that you understand your child is suffering, you must move beyond self-blame and regret and focus on getting the help he or she needs.

Fault & Self Blame

Your actions and parenting are not what caused your child to become an addict.  Many parents with children who are addicts relentlessly beat themselves up over their child’s addiction; they replay in their mind a constant list of things they should or should not have done in a hopeless attempt to determine the root cause of this tragedy.  They surely lose sleep over their mental list of mistakes, wondering if only they had been home more, or if only they had talked to their child about drugs or alcohol sooner, or more firmly, if things would be different.

However, it’s likely that none of these things would have made much of a difference.  The fact is, addiction is a disease, and it can happen to anyone.  Would you blame yourself and feel regret if your child was diagnosed with any other disease?  And sure, there are external factors that make some people more susceptible to addiction than others, but you must know that you felt you were doing the right things when you did them, and that you were making decisions based on information you had at the time.  There is no sense in wasting your energy obsessing over the ways you could have acted differently.  The past is the past; you must simply move forward from here.  It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past because now you can choose to begin helping your child with his or her problem from this point forward.

Factors That Cause Addiction

It’s very important to understand that teenage drug addiction is the result of a number of factors.  It’s impossible that your son or daughter’s addiction arose from a single cause.  Drug and alcohol dependency is the result of both genetic and environmental factors.  Certainly, a history of drug or alcohol abuse in a child’s family history can cause a teen to use and later abuse drugs and alcohol, but so can the fact that teenagers experience large amounts of peer pressure from friends and others their age.  When children enter their teen years, they automatically seek more independence and will likely participate in some risky and experimental behaviors no matter what a parent does to discourage or curtail it.  They begin to make new friends and develop new interests.  And, they will have greater access to drugs and alcohol as they get older through friends, parties, and a growing social circle.  They may begin using drugs or alcohol to hide social anxiety, alleviate depression, or to gain social status.  Very few of these things are within the realm of the control of a child’s parents.  Again, your child’s addiction is not your fault.

Even If You Were An Addict….

Even if you were also an addict, it is not your fault that your son or daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol.  Although it is believed that genetics plays a big part in addiction, there are still plenty of children of addicts who did not become addicted themselves.  Conversely, some children of addicts, of course, do also become addicts. But growing up with an addicted parent is simply one of many factors, as mentioned above, that can lead to an addicted child; there are countless influences that lead to drug use and addiction.  You did not cause your child to become addicted.  If you are still using, have a problem, and are worried about your child’s use of drug and alcohol, you should immediately enroll in a drug treatment program or join a support group to conquer your own issues, and thereby set an example for your child.  If you are a recovering addict and are experiencing addiction again through the love for your son or daughter, join AlAnon or other support groups, recall your own struggle and look upon it for strength, and put yourself in your child’s shoes. Once you conquer your feelings of self-blame and regret over your child’s addiction, your past experiences may be helpful to inspire empathetic conversations that can help you connect deeply with your child that may, in turn, encourage them to pursue treatment.

What You Should Do

Unfortunately, you cannot fix your child’s addiction. You can help them by sending them to rehab, getting them counseling, and encouraging them to attend support groups.  You can educate them on methods to recovery, and give them the resources they need to learn about their problem.  But ultimately, it is the decision of the addicted individual whether or not to get clean and sober.  You can give guidance, but the decision has to be theirs alone.

However, there are some things that are always the right thing to do and that may help to encourage your son or daughter to realize the scope of their problem, and may inspire him or her to be more open-minded about getting help.  Telling your child that you love him or her unconditionally is always the right thing to do.  You can and should tell them that you do not like condone their drug use, and you can and should tell them that you will not pay for their habit, loan them the car, or bail them out of jail if they get in trouble.  Once your child has been through treatment, you may need to set curfews, cut off relationships with certain friends, and limit time alone in their room.  You need to set boundaries; setting boundaries does not mean that you do not love your child – in fact, it implies the opposite – and he or she will hopefully soon realize that as well.  Even if they don’t understand that distinction immediately, in time, they will.

It is also important to let your son or daughter know, frequently, that they have your full support when it comes to recovering from their addiction.  Be sure to be patient and realize that recovery does not happen overnight.  Know that it is important to be there for your child no matter how difficult the recovery journey may become for him or her, or for you and the rest of their family.

Remember that there is always hope and you should never give up on your child.  Sorry to say, loving your child isn’t always enough.  There will be times where your child will cause pain to you, themselves, and everyone around them, but you will love them always no matter what.  It may take them a long time to realize that they can recover, but even in the darkest times, reassure them that you know and believe that they can do it.  It may seem like they cannot hear you or are not truly listening or believing you, but the more they hear it, the better.

Getting Your Child Help for Addiction

At Clear Sky Recovery, we understand how difficult it can be to cope with a child who suffers from addiction. Not only do many parents blame themselves for their child’s addiction, but they also are likely to experience a variety of other conflicting emotions a well, including anger, fear, disappointment, and frustration. These difficult feelings often contribute to any existing problems with anxiety and depression that a parent might have, sometimes making it difficult for them to get their child the help they need.  Parents need to ensure that they themselves are mentally and emotionally healthy before they can effectively help their children with their mental and emotional issues.  If you need help working through these feelings, we are happy to listen and can help point you in the right direction – just give us a call.

Helping your child gain control over his or her life may be a matter of life and death and it is imperative that you act quickly.  Once you move past your feelings of self-blame and guilt, you will be more easily able to get involved in your child’s recovery.  His or her future depends on your support an involvement.  We would love to speak with you about our facility in Cancun. Mexico, and the ways in which ibogaine treatment can help your son or daughter recover from addiction.  Our innovative methods using natural medicine from the iboga tabernanthe plant from Africa can interrupt addiction and stop it in its tracks, and help your child get his or her life back. Our intake specialists are standing by to discuss your child’s unique situation and the ways in which we can help him or her start on the recovery journey. Please note: we will not treat minors.