There is no ‘Right’ Answer – Every family must do what is in their heart

hands in shape of heartOften 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.

Reflecting on the Progress of Personal Growth

Many times it seems that I look at the situation at hand and want more progress or have high expectations. Today I was discussing this journey that I have been on with some friends. I was relaying the trials and tribulations that occurred over the past 4 years. Later I began to think about how bad it had become when my daughter was in the depths of her addiction. I thought about how many times I almost lost her from various harmful situations she had been in. I thought about how she became someone I didn’t recognize and I was so desperate to have my daughter back. It made me realize that even though there is still growth and responsibilities to take on, so much progress has taken place. I had to pause and take stock of all the blessings that have occurred through this journey.
There are many blessings but the one that is the most prevalent for me is the fact that traveling this journey with my daughter has led me to experience tremendous growth myself. When I was desperate to help my daughter I was led to discover that the best thing I could personally do for her was to get help myself. I realized that the most loving thing I could do was to become knowledgeable about addiction and what I could do to stop enabling her. Learning that I did not and could not control everything taught me how to let go and be free of the stress that consumed me. This has been one of the blessings and today I took the time to reflect on this and be grateful for these discoveries.

This explains everything – making sense of the disease of addiction

Mental Illness and AddictionResearching or reading articles of research on addiction educates me more about why our loved ones continue to do what appears to us a self-defeating, immoral and illegal activity. To think they are choosing or willfully lying is a judgment quickly taken, but the truth is much more complex and physiological.

With stats such as “only 10% of addicts seek help on their own” , that is, even recognize they have a problem, explains a lot. In one such article written for CNN, Dr. Seppala, chief medical officer of Hazelden, states “Our largest public health problem goes unrecognized by those with the disease.”  In my opinion, the same holds true for the family members. We don’t seek help readily; we don’t see that we may be part of the problem. Take, for example, a good co-depended parent model: self-authorized to sacrifice their own well-being, at all costs, with a fear based obsession not unlike the addict searching for the next fix. Using ineffective control measures, we have firsthand experience being among the 90%!

I easily equate the addict profile as it applies to me, a concerned parent fraught with hopeless attempts to assist. It explains the anguish, heartache and self-defeating measures those of us in this family disease do.  It explains everything.  Why we continue to ”mother” our 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and older-year olds…as if they are still in toddlers! We ineffectively combat a disease of lies; and the alternative is at first, unfathomable, incomprehensible and counterintuitive.

The other measures that may ultimately “help” result from our own decision to seek help or maybe we were coerced.  However we get there, we are given tools to overcome our own connectedness to the addict and in so doing, contribute to changing that dismal 10%percent that seek recovery. When you know better, you do better.

 

When do you cut the cord? Helping our kids become responsible adults

Often as parents we try to find the right balance of supporting our kids as they grow into adulthood and letting go of entanglement in their daily responsibilities. This is no different with our kids who have struggled with addiction regardless of whether they are in recovery or not. When I talk with other parents many of them see supporting their kids in their early adulthood as part of their responsibility as a parent. They may set boundaries and conditions and even consequences, but they are willing to extend the support.

What I have learned is that there is a delicate balance between healthy support and teaching our kids, somewhat inadvertently, that they are not capable. By supporting too much it takes away the ability for our children to learn and grow and become responsible. How do you find this balance? How does a challenging time with our economy play into it? I saw a statistic recently that over 30% of young adults (18-25) were unemployed. This is not an easy situation for a parent trying to do the right thing. On the one hand you do not want to enable, we have all seen what enabling can lead to with a loved one struggling with addiction. What seems to be an act of love becomes a ticket to continue in the plunge of drug and alcohol addiction that leads to devastating consequences.  It is best to be very mindful and talk openly with our kids about how you want to support them but not enable them. Help them be a part of the solution and agreement that you forge and make sure they know that the goal is to help them to become a responsible, self-sufficient adult.