It is absolutely paralyzing to learn that your child has substance abuse issues. Where do you turn for help? How do you know what steps to take? What is addiction, anyway? There are endless questions and no consolidation source of answers or support. In addition, the stigma of having an addicted child causes many parents to retract and withdraw rather than seek help. In truth, many families struggle with substance abuse issues, and the support, wisdom and guidance they need are not easily found.Parent Pathway was created for parents, by parents, to provide a place to find peace of mind at a time when their world feels like it is falling apart.
There are times when I have to use all of my restraint to avoid jumping in and ‘making it all better’ for my daughter. It’s easy as a Mom to want to rescue your child, even when they’ve grown up into adulthood. Yet I know that letting them have their feelings and working through a difficult situation is what they need to grow into healthy, responsible adults. It seems I need to keep learning this lesson and while I’ve gotten better at it, I still have this desire to ‘fix, solve, make better’ and spare my kids from suffering. And it is even more difficult when there are good intentions or just bad luck that led them to the dilemma of the day.
Earlier when my daughter was active in addiction, it was much clearer as to what not to do, although still hard at times. It was obvious then not to give her money that would be used for unhealthy choices. Now it’s challenging because so many good things are happening. Yet I know that I need to stay the course of being there to support but not enable. I need to realize my role and not infringe on hers. I need to see the progress but not begin to creep back in with old habits that could bring about a change in the wrong direction. Having this awareness is what keeps me focused and mindful. My natural tendencies when not ‘thinking’ things through is to jump in with my ‘supermom cape’ and save the day, no matter how big or how small. I will continue to be focused on healthy habits that lead to healthy relationships with my loved ones.
Discovering that your child is dependent upon drugs or alcohol is like discovering that your child has cancer. It’s mind-numbing, yet demands action and answers. What are pain pills?Addicted to pot – is that even possible? Heroin – you’re kidding, right?? What are the treatment options? What the heck is addiction or alcoholism, anyway? So many questions, so few easy answers.
And somewhere along the way, you will find that you need to grieve: for your child’s lost innocence, for the torment and fear you experience, for your collective lost dreams. Grieving, essential to your recovery, can take many forms:
- Work through your grief with a counselor who will help you understand y our losses and deal with them in a healthy and constructive way.
- Grief can feel suffocating. A good exercise to release grief is to take a very deep breath, hold it tightly and then release it slowly. You will feel your body calm down.
- It is also therapeutic to cry in the shower or yell in the car or smash pillows with a tennis racquet – anything physical to vent your sorrow, your anger, your disappointment.
- You might also want to write a letter to whatever is running your life – addiction, fear, remorse – and tell it that you are taking back your life. You can also write down your sorrows and regrets and burn them in a fireplace or “burning bowl.” The important thing is to symbolically purge your “if only’s” so that you can free yourself to live more in the moment.
- There are also some great books that will help support recovery. Check out The Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. James and Russell Friedman or The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson. One day at a time, or even one moment at a time, you will learn to put your pain in its proper place. It will lose its power over you, and you will discover that you can survive your child’s addiction or alcoholism.