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.
This is an encore post from My3Sunz
She reached out in desperation – “my son’s been arrested and may go to prison!” When I met up with her I recognized the anguish and sleepless, ringed-worried-eyes, once worn myself. This is the look of a parent whose love for their drug addict child and powerlessness leaves them broken.
First there was the guilt – she missed the phone call from him. She had decided to go to the class she signed up for and, then there was regret – she should have stayed home! Martydom mixed with obsessive spurts of energy focused on detective work; late night internet research for arrest records and prisons. Soon she self-consumed into fearful isolation – projecting the worst outcomes. Driven to fuel the fears, news articles: “Life in solitary, Inmates Hunger Strike; Violent, predatory offenders” to name a few. Undeniably a drug addict turned to criminal activity to support his disease, but NOT this and NOT THERE! He is her child, her son – my son, your child, and our hearts break open – we want to rescue. I know this well, I have the T-shirt.
How could I help? What could I do? My co-dependent nature is to rescue and smooth over the fear and sadness because I feel unease in these situations…I wanted to say “it will all be OK!” But that’s not the truth, it might not be OK, so instead, I listened. How does one go from helplessness to powerlessness, the latter being a state of surrender & acceptance, fueled by trust versus fear? Was she ready? Would I be of help or further complicate matters? For me, it took hard work in my 12-Step Program of Al-Anon.
I shared my own experience of being frightened for my sons’ fate. Like when I read about the prison riot which made front page news. I immediately went to that scary place visualizing my son’s vulnerability in what I conjured up. A mother’s worst nightmare – my imagination ran wild! How I then turned it over to my God Box, realizing no amount of worry or fret was going to influence the outcome of this! I later learned he missed the riot because he “skipped” breakfast – all validating why I have to let go and let God! This was a change in the way I reacted to fears about the future and I was given positive feedback – projecting would no longer serve me, reaching out would.
Many times I think about what has been instrumental to my daughter’s recovery. When have I seen the most growth? There are many dynamics that contribute. Early in her struggle to overcome her addiction it was a moment by moment, day by day battle to piece together sobriety. But now that she has many months and now years she is not in crisis mode – she is ‘doing life’ as they say. She is working and taking responsibility for herself. My expectations during the early days of recovery were basic; stay clean, move forward. But as time went on, I knew that part of recovery entails getting a job and learning life skills and responsibilities.
Getting a job definitely propelled her forward in a positive direction. She had to get up and show up. She had to work hard and follow directions. I watched her go from an attitude of ‘it’s all about me and what others do for me’ to ‘I worked hard for that paycheck!’ She began to understand the value of money and how much it cost to live on her own. It was a real sign of growth when we were shopping one day and I was about to buy something at the grocery store and she said, ‘that’s way too expensive! You can get that somewhere else for a lot less.’ This was never a consideration when she didn’t have to buy things on her own. Now she was able to understand the cost and making tradeoffs. I watched her self-esteem rise over time. It is one of the most fundamental jobs we have as parents, to help our children grow into responsible adults. When they take a detour into addiction, it becomes an even more difficult task, but there is hope for recovery.
QUESTION: My son is 19 and in a methadone treatment program for 7 months now and doing group several times a week. I am glad he is off drugs and participating in group but do not like my son’s behaviors on the methadone at all. I have to drive and pick him up every morning to and from the bus; this is in addition to driving him to work (because he doesn’t drive). He smokes cigarettes. I also have another child who is 7 and has epilepsy.
I am having a really difficult time with his addiction because I am a fitness trainer and my whole example is one of health and holistic approaches to well-being. Since I deal with another type of addiction (food) and other negative lifestyle choices, I know that the person must want to change or be at that point where they have no alternative but to take control of their health. I don’t see that here. I see just a temporary fix that is starting to erode my peace of mind and the peace of my family. I have a very busy schedule with work and do not have time for parent groups and therapy, nor do I really want to be in them.
I am finding myself more and more angry and don’t want to be supporting what I don’t believe is a positive solution and could ultimately be dangerous to his health. I’m really not sure what to do next and have told him this morning I don’t want to support him being on methadone any longer for the reasons that I’m giving you. Any advice would be appreciated.
ANSWER FROM EXPERT JON DAILY. You have to do what you don’t want to hear. On a daily basis, you deal with people who struggle to trust your advice. You can see their new body that will emerge if they follow your plan. You know you will get positive outcomes, but they don’t see it. They also will struggle without your support, as “their way” is what created their fitness and wellness issues in the first place.
You have to heal yourself by going to the parent groups and parent-specific Al-Anon meetings. It is a blind spot that is annoying you, but that discomfort is where you need to” lean.” You have clients who you are asking to “lean into” their discomfort and do what they have to do for outcomes Not doing so is “bargaining” with the treatment plan, a form of personal denial.
I certainly don’t like it when doctors stick needles in me to take my blood or ask me to get MRIs, but this is what I do to stay healthy. With that said, I hope this discussion on opiate addiction will help you understand opiate addiction and the treatment approaches.
Understanding the roots of your relationship with your son can help you break the chain of co-dependency. This in-depth article about co-dependency and addiction, which will be published by the SVC-CAMFT, CAADAC and Counseling Magazine , may also be helpful to you.