I am the Parent of a Drug Addict: does that Mean I Am a Failure?
Is your son or daughter a drug addict? It is easy to feel like a failure, but you must realise that it is not your fault! Follow these tips to help both you and your child get through this addiction together.
Being the parent of a drug addict is one of the hardest things anyone might have to face. Addiction is a destructive disease not only to the drug addict himself, but to all the people who love him. Seeing your child succumb to this devastating disorder can leave you feeling like a failure as a parent and asking yourself what you could have done differently to prevent or fix the problem.
However, having a drug addicted loved one does not mean that you have failed as a parent. Like other illnesses, drug addiction does not discriminate and can affect anyone. The following are ten reminders from a mother of a drug addict to other parents who are struggling.
Ten Things for Parents of a Drug Addict who Think “I am a Failure” to Remember
1. You did not cause your child to become a drug addict.
Your parenting is not what caused your child to become addicted to drugs. While no parents are perfect, and most will wish they had done some things differently, remind yourself that you are not to blame, and your child has a disease that is not your fault. Endlessly blaming yourself will only compound the hurt you are already experiencing.
2. You cannot fix your child’s addiction.
You did not cause your child’s addiction, nor can you end it or fix it. You can provide all the support in the world including sending your child to drug and alcohol rehab, but in the end it is up to your child to take control of their recovery.
3. Everyone’s rock-bottom is different.
When your child experiences devastating consequences such as being incarcerated or losing custody of their children, you might think this surely has to be their “rock bottom.” However your perception of rock bottom and what will actually be your child’s personal turning point are different.
4. Your child will not stop using “for you.”
Trying to guilt trip your child into recovery by saying things like “if you loved me you would stop doing this” will never work. You will only succeed in pushing them further away.
5. Addiction will cause your child to behave in ways you would rather not believe possible.
The child that you love, no matter how sweet or honest they once were, is capable of lying, stealing, and more when actively addicted to drugs or alcohol. This is not due to your failure as a parent to teach them right from wrong, this is due to the power of addiction — which changes the brain and makes a person do whatever it takes to feed the addiction.
6. Despite the best of intentions, bailing your child out of trouble is not protecting them, but enabling them.
Anytime you shield your child from the consequences of their behaviour, such as calling into work sick for them, lending them money when they plead that they are broke, or even bailing them out of prison, you are enabling the addiction to continue. Learning the difference between helping and enabling is one of the most difficult things for parents of a drug addict to do, because often times this means you have to step back and allow your child to experience the full suffering their addiction is causing them.
7. You need to take care of yourself first.
If you do not care for your own emotional, mental, and physical health you will not be able to help others, including your child. It is very important for parents of a drug addict to get help for themselves and to make time to care for their own needs.
8. Letting your child know you love them unconditionally is always right.
Just because you stop enabling does not mean you stop loving your child. Telling them that you love them is always OK, even if they are unable to believe it or are angry that you will no longer support them while they continue to use.
9. All the love in the world will sometimes not be enough.
All the love you have and show for your child will not stop them from hurting themselves and others through their addiction. Their alcohol and drug abuse may cause irreversible damage to their lives and relationships and sometimes the best you can do is continue to let them know you love them and that you will be there for them when they decide to get help.
10. Never give up hope.
Let your child know that you have hope for their recovery and will be there when they are ready to get the help they need. Multiple failures at recovery can be discouraging, but each attempt can bring your child closer to achieving sobriety long-term. No matter how long or destructive their drug addiction has been there is still hope for recovery and in their darkest times your child may find what they need to change.
What Parents of a Drug Addict can do to Help
Educating yourself about drug addiction is the first step to being able to help and support your child on their road to recovery. The more you learn about the effects of addiction on the addict and their loved ones, the better equipped you will be to offer the right kind of support. An important part of this education is learning the difference between helping and enabling. Because addiction is a disease that affects the whole family, family members will often take on roles of codependency that enable the addiction to continue.
By changing yourself you will help move your addicted child closer to recovery. Many addicts will not seek addiction treatment on their own and you may want to work with an addiction specialist to stage an intervention. Treatment does not have to be voluntary to be successful, and an intervention can be an effective way to get your child the help they need.
Attending an addiction treatment centre with a family programme could also increase your child’s chance of success.
SHAFA HOME, offers a specialised family therapy programme for clients whose families wish to be a part of treatment. This allows the whole family to learn what it takes to recover from addiction and make the changes necessary to help prevent relapse. Always hold on to hope that long-term addiction recovery is possible for your loved one and contact an addiction specialist for the help your family needs today.
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