As a parent, you no longer only have your life to take care of, you have another life that depends on you—that’s a heavy burden to deal with. Many of the choices that you make will affect the way that your child grows up and the person that he or she becomes. While parents play a huge role in a child’s life, parents don’t have full control—children make plenty of life decisions on their own.
For example, adult children make the decision whether they will try drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, when this happens, there is the potential for an active addiction to occur. If this happens, it can weigh heavily on parents, with parents assuming that they did something wrong when raising their children and feeling completely helpless.
In America, there are more than 23 million people addicted to some form of substance and in need of treatment. Out of those 23 million, only roughly 10 percent seek and receive the help that they need. If you have an adult child that is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you likely feel helpless and hopeless. You may even feel as if you have no options available to you. However, here are six things that you should keep in mind.
While you may be living with someone that is battling addiction and dealing with the effects of addiction on a daily basis, do you actually understand the disease? Before you get into another argument or make one more tear-filled plea with your son or daughter, do some research so that you fully understand what your adult child is going through and what kinds of options that they have available to them. Addiction is one of the most complex diseases and it can make its way through the entire family, so it is important that you navigate it thoroughly.
Consider this: if your child was sick with another disease, you probably wouldn’t think twice before scouring the internet or calling someone to get as much information as you could about it, right? Despite any shame, guilt, or fear that you may have regarding addiction, you shouldn’t go about the process of getting help or advice any differently.
Regardless of what anyone thinks, no parent is 100 percent perfect. Everyone makes mistakes every now and then, and everyone can always do a better job in one way or another. But once your child becomes an adult, there is no way to go back and undo or redo anything from their adolescent days. Instead, you simply need to move forward and look for solutions to remedy the situation that you have in front of you right now.
With your child being an adult now, he or she has the ability to make his or her own decisions. At the same time, your child can’t blame you for their decisions now or in the future. If your child is choosing alcohol or drugs over detox and rehab, then that can’t be blamed on you. It is your child’s responsibility to make the decision to move forward with detox and rehab—not yours; all you can do is try to encourage them to make that decision. However, in the end, it is up to them.
As a parent, you are going to be distraught, concerned, overwhelmed, and possibly even angry about your child’s addiction. You have numerous emotions running through you, and you probably want to nag and whine into an emotionally charged conversation with your child. However, this is the last thing that you want to do.
Instead, you need to be practical. Keep in mind that your child probably has no idea how to seek help for his or her addiction—all your child is familiar with is how to use the drug or drink alcohol. Even if your child knows that he or she needs to make a change in his or her life, your child probably doesn’t know how to proceed.
So, before you go barreling in, have some real options ready to present to your child. Don’t have your emotional please, idle threats, etc. ready to go. Instead, prepare some treatment options, answers to potential questions your child may have, and more. Be ready for your child to object to all of it, and be ready to keep your emotions in check.
In the end, though, if your son or daughter refuses to get help, you won’t be able to blame yourself.
Always remember that your child and your child’s addiction are two completely separate things. Your son or daughter is not an addiction, and the addiction is not your daughter or son. It is possible to differentiate the two so that you can hate the disease of addiction and unconditionally love your child. Just keep in mind that unconditional love for your child does not consist of enabling them, as they still need to remain accountable for any addictive behavior.
One of the most difficult things for parents of children with addictions is to love themselves. Your life changes in an instant when you give birth to a son or daughter, and that never ends no matter what age your child is. However, when your child grows out of that adolescent age and becomes an adult, your roles and responsibilities lessen and evolve. Loving yourself essentially means that you are drawing your boundaries, accepting your limits, and keeping yourself healthy in what is a very unhealthy situation.
If you would like more information on helping your son or daughter battle his or her addiction, or if your child is ready to get the treatment he or she needs, contact us at Shadow Mountain Recovery.