The Fix, a rich web site dedicated to “addiction and recovery, straight up,” once featured an article called “Going Home without Going Crazy.” The article offered tips to help those in recovery manage post-addiction trips home, which can be laden with eggshells and bombshells for parents and kids alike. Looking back on the “do’s and don’ts” of parenting an addict reminds me that addiction is a family disease that impacts the system of the family. The ripple effect touches everyone. And that ripple spreads in all directions.
So here were the tips offered to addicts/alcoholics in The Fix. And here’s how they play out for parents.
- “Be a grown up: If you want to be seen as a grown up, start acting as one.” The flip side of this for parents is if you want your kids to act like grownups, and then treat them like grownups, with adult responsibilities and expectations.
- “Talk to your sponsor.” Parents, this applies to you, too. Talk to your sponsor about the way you may choose to act (NOT react) under certain circumstances.
- “Hit a meeting.” Ditto for parents. Get the support you need while taking a breather from the family dynamics. Vent in a constructive fashion. Listen and learn.
- “Go online.” You are already here. Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of OZ, there is no place like home.
- “Distract yourself.” The Fix says it best: “Distract yourself so you don’t wallow in the negative feelings that being back amongst family can stir up.” Exercise, cook fanatically, read, watch a movie, or lend a hand to a friend or neighbor.
- “Reflect.” Be mindful and in the moment, rather than dwelling on yesterday or investing in future fears or fantasies.
- “Keep up your routine.” Don’t abandon familiar routines just because your beloved addict or alcoholic has returned for a visit. Remember that a key element in our recovery is taking care of ourselves.
- “Get off your ass,” AKA, be of service to others. Helping others helps you.