Often we are faced with decisions that we need to make on whether we will help our loved one in addiction. When we first start dealing with the wreckage of a loved one’s addiction we are often uninformed and ill equipped about what to do, I know I was. It seemed whatever I did just made things worse and I became more resentful. For example many addicts go from rehab to a sober living house. Although many times there is an agreement that if they relapse they need to figure out where they will go and not give them an option to come home. Yet when the dreaded relapse occurs, we are faced with this heart wrenching decision – do we leave them out in the cold or take them in?
I’m not for one decision or the other – both have consequences which can be very unpleasant or it could have a good outcome. In my experience we did what we felt in our heart when faced with difficult decisions. And sometimes the outcome was not good for my daughter and actually enabled her to keep going down a dark road. The bottom line is that there is no ‘right’ answer. Many people will have opinions on what to do – very strong opinions. But in the end it’s your child and you have to make the decision that is best for you and your situation. We need to look at each decision and think about whether it will help or whether it will hinder the health and well-being of the people involved. With each decision and outcome we learn, we adjust, and keep moving forward. Each family has to work together and make the next ‘right’ decision for their circumstance.
In what I call the ‘war zone of addiction’ when your child is actively abusing regularly and wreaking havoc on their life, your life and the entire household, it is anyones guess to know how bad it has to get before you take control. For many people the thought of giving your child an ultimatum of ‘stop abusing drugs and alcohol or you need to leave our home’ is unfathomable. Yet there does seem to be a point that many people get to where they can no longer bear to live with the betrayal, violence and watching their loved one self-destruct before their eyes.
My moment came when I realized that my daughter was slowly dying – she was using drugs and alcohol at such a level that she was putting herself in harm’s way over and over again. And although I tried many different ways to get her to stop, it was futile. She actually had a nice base at home from which to sleep in between her drug abusing. We did take her car away, stopped giving her any money, tried to draw boundaries which were repeatedly broken. All of these are minor irritants to the creative addict – they always find ways to get more alcohol, more drugs.
The day did come when I could no longer be a bystander in the three ring circus that had become our life. I took action, not action that I am recommending because everyone is different and only you and your family can decide what is right for you, but action that my husband and I were ready to take. The miracle of it was that even though things got worse before they got better during the coming months, we began to get our life back and our daughter began to own hers. I asked her one day, ‘why did you keep doing all this crazy behaviors?’ and she said, ‘because there were no real consequences until you gave me the ultimatum of rehab or leave’. It was important for us to hear this and learn that even when it’s a difficult situation and the consequences are severe, you have to take control no matter what or the insanity will just keep repeating itself over and over.