Introduction: There are many factors that can lead to chemical dependence; a young adult can succumb to a new environment facilitating drug addiction, hanging around “the wrong crowd,” reacting to an emotional or physical trauma, or any number of other reasons.
Many parents are faced with some excruciating choices: rehabilitation, incarceration, dislodging the addict from the family home, to name a few. In our experience, drug addiction help for parents can be summed up in seven truths relating to your addicted child. These truths may be hard to take, but they may also provide the insight needed to see the role you may play in the ongoing drama that is addiction.
PARENTS ARE ENABLERS
The desire to protect our sons and daughters from anything that may harm them is biologically built into all parents. As their protectors, we would do anything to remove pain, whether it’s emotional or physical. If it was in our power, we would solve the problem of addiction and take it away, even if it meant giving our own life. However, at some point, children make decisions that send them down one path or another. As a parent, you can only support them and provide them opportunities to make another decision. This is difficult because no one loves an addict like their parents do. That is why sponsors, recovering addicts, pastors, treatment counselors, police, probation, and corrections officers can do a better job than a parent in showing an addicted child the correct path.
YOU CANNOT FIX THIS
This Truth is almost an addendum to Truth #1. Addiction is a problem only your addicted child can fix. The hard fact is that no one is allowed in an addict’s mind except them. They are the only ones who can decide to do something about their addiction. The addiction will not end until the addict decides to end it. Parents who try to make that decision FOR their addicted children only end up frustrated and in more emotional turmoil.
MY ADDICT IS A LIAR
Addicts will say anything to hide their addiction and take any action to mask the problem. Do not rely on faith that they are not using because they told you they weren’t. Due to low self-esteem and approval seeking behavior, a lot of addicts do not even realize they are lying. They are just saying whatever they think you want to hear. When your addicted child tells you he/she is not using, tell them, “My eyes can hear much better than my ears.” Just as we seek evidence of their using, we must seek evidence of their NOT using.
LIFE WILL NOT BE THE SAME
When parents of addicts look at their child, they may only see what that kid used to be like before drugs or alcohol changed them into something less recognizable. Some parents mourn the loss of their special boy or girl and try anything to get them ‘back’. You can grieve this loss, but it will not help your child (or you) to move forward. An addict does not live in the past or the future. An addict lives in the here and now. If you want to help your addicted child, you must live in the same world they do. Our world recognizes chronological ages, not maturity levels. Parents of addicts must do that, too.