Time to claim victory over addiction? Not so fast…

It is such an interesting time when certain recovery milestones begin to occur.  In the early days of my daughter’s recovery, I would put on such a celebration at the 30 day chip, the 60 day chip, the 90 day chip, the.…Well, you get the picture.  I would put such fanfare on these early recoveries because I wanted all the hope that came with it – you would have thought I was the one getting the chip.  It is easy to look back on this and, while I think it’s great to celebrate the milestones of recovery, we also need to keep it in perspective.  Nevertheless, as the years accumulate in her recovery I’m not sure I would be any less proud if she’d just gotten her college diploma!  It’s been a long journey, and it did not come easily.

Is it time to claim victory over addiction?  I hardly think so, but it is time to celebrate and sit back and relish the healing and recovery.  She has become responsible: performing well in her job, paying her bills, making good choices.  These are all wonderful things to celebrate.  Yet I know how illusive addiction can be – it’s like cancer, it’s in remission, healing has taken place and a clean bill of health is declared.  Yet, it can reoccur when unmanaged, turning life upside down in a moment.  I do not dwell on this possibility, for today I will rejoice in my daughter’s recovery and the healing that has taken place in our family.

Tools from the trenches: David Sheff’s book on parenting an addict

Author David Sheff documented his son’s addiction and his family’s torturous quest for recovery in his first book on the topic, Beautiful  Boy.  That book had struck a painful nerve in me, especially the twisted co-dependency that complicated an already complicated picture.  Imagine:  you’ve just had a stroke, and the one thought coursing through your mind is “How is my child?  How is my child?  How is my child?”  That warped sense of priorities seems all too familiar to parents of addicts who often assume second position behind the incessant demands of their child’s substance chemical dependency.

David Sheff hits another home rum with, Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy.  This honest, accurate and empathetic book validated my experience.  Here’s a sample of what he writes:   ‘The view that drug use is a moral choice is pervasive, pernicious, and wrong. So are the corresponding beliefs about the addicted — that they’re weak, selfish, and dissolute; if they weren’t, when their excessive drug taking and drinking began to harm them, they’d stop. The reality is far different.”  You can read a longer excerpt of the book here.

They say that, in recovery, all that needs to change is EVERYTHING.  That goes for knowledge and attitudes, too:  yours, mine, our children’s, the public’s.  Clean offers a powerful tool to change the attitudes that impact course of our loved ones’ addiction and recovery.