If you’ve ever parented an addict, you know that addiction affects more than just the addict. Parenting an addict is one of the most difficult situations surrounding this disease, because parents feel so unable to help their child. Watching your child lose control is an unbearable thing, and you’ll need to be strong in order to help your child recover.
Facing the Problem
When addiction first rears its ugly head, many parents spend a fair amount of time denying their child has a problem. It’s difficult to face the fact that the child you’ve raised is destroying his or her life through addiction. But ignoring the problem, or hoping it will go away on its own won’t help the situation, and it won’t help your child get better. Instead, you need to confront your child about his or her problem, find out what you can do to help, and educate yourself on addiction and treatment options.
As a parent, it’s always been your job to fix your child’s problems and help him or her be happy. This method of parenting won’t work where addiction is concerned. Addiction is a problem that can’t be fixed by anyone but the addict. Trying to fix the problem yourself, or trying to force your child to change his or her behavior won’t work. The addiction has taken root and changed your child in ways he or she must overcome. Trying to force a change will only push him or her further away. Trying to fix the problem by giving your child money or resources will only prevent him or her from facing his or her mistakes and seeking treatment.
The only thing parents can do is wait for their child to be ready to make a change on his or her own, and be ready to offer their full support when the time comes. Speak candidly with your child about addiction and your desire to see him or her overcome this disease. Offer your knowledge and support regarding treatment options. Remind him or her that you have faith in his or her ability to conquer this disease, and that you’ll be there to help.
Living Your Life
There are many pitfalls for parents who are helping their child deal with addiction. You may become angry and blame your child for the addiction. You may be tempted to take all the responsibility of the addiction, which will lead to a codependent relationship that only fuels the addiction. You may sink into a deep depression. None of these paths will lead your child to recovery, and they’ll only destroy your life along the way.
The best thing you can do to help your child overcome the addiction is have patience, show unconditional love, and wait for him or her to be ready to make a change. In the meantime, you need to take care of yourself and stay strong for your child. Find things in life to engage in that make you feel happy and hopeful. Take care of your body, your mind, and your spirit so your child will have someone steady to turn to when he or she hits rock bottom. Maintain the other relationships in your life and avoid neglecting those you love because you’re concerned about your child’s addiction. Failing to remain hopeful and strong will only allow addiction to destroy your life and your child’s.
Addiction can be a terrible trial, but allowing it to take over your own life will make it impossible for you to help anyone else. Extend a helping hand to your child, and then make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. That’s the best, and really the only way to negate the effects of addiction on your family.