Parents of Addicts Share Truths That have Helped Them Cope

Parents of Addicts Share Truths That have Helped Them Cope

Being the parent of an addict can be one of the hardest situations a person will ever have to endure.  As a parent you want to shield and protect your child from all harm, but as kids grow, they have to make their own decisions – right or wrong.  Many times parents want to swoop in and “fix” the situation, and that’s not always the best or healthiest thing for their child.

In an episode of Relapse, which aired April 19 on the A&E channel, sober living coach, Seth Jaffe, tries convince Brandon, a black tar heroin addict, to complete rehab.  After meeting with the family, he discovers that Brandon’s mom was supplying him with $1700 a month, which covered his rent, utilities and cell phone usage.  Brandon used his cell phone to deal heroin because his $1200 a month habit required that he deal in order to support his usage.
Seth immediately revealed to Brandon’s mom that she was a classic, co-dependent mother and a complete enabler of Brandon’s heroin addiction.  He put it this way – she was paying $1700 a month to kill her son.  What Seth was trying to get her to see is the fact that most addicts cannot continue to be addicts without resources from friends and family.  Seth told Brandon’s mom that the only way he would get better was to hit rock bottom and finally realize for himself that he wanted to get better.

Addicts don’t have to face those kinds of decisions when resources are being provided for them to continue in their destructive ways.  Sometimes it takes an addict getting fired from a job, losing a relationship with someone they love, being incarcerated, or finding themselves homeless and destitute in order to wake up.  The unconditional love of a parent hates seeing their children locked up in jail or homeless on the streets, but by always rescuing their children they are not doing them any favors.

In an article published on November 10, 2010 at AddictionBlog.org, a single mother tells of the lessons she’s learned from living through her son’s hellish drug and alcohol addiction.  Lessons, she wishes she had learned earlier on.  They are as follows:

  1. Don’t blame yourself for your child’s choices, and don’t waste energy thinking about what you would have done differently.  You did the best you could, and we all make mistakes.
  2. You can’t fix everything – including your child’s addiction.  He has to hit rock bottom and decide for himself that he wants to get clean.
  3. Hitting rock bottom might mean two completely different things for you and your child.  Be patient.
  4. Just because your child does not get clean for you does not mean that he doesn’t love you.  Realize that he is controlled and ruled by his addiction.
  5. Your sweet little child is capable of lying and stealing from you.  Again, remember that this is the effect of the addiction.
  6. Rescuing your child from bad situations is actually a means of enabling.  He must face the consequences of his poor choices.
  7. Don’t bail him out of jail either.
  8. Always tell your child that you love him unconditionally but that you cannot support his behavior.  Take all means necessary to protect your health, home and financial resources.
  9. Love is not always enough.  Love cannot always stop the devastation caused by addiction, but it is nevertheless important to let your child know that you believe he can recover.
  10. Never give up.


In another article published on Intervene.Drugfree.org in November 2009, a father to an addict son echoes these sentiments.  He says these were hard lessons to learn, and said that initially, he and his wife fought the idea that it was better to let his son face consequences for his actions than to bail him out.  Now, he says he loves his son but makes no excuses for him.  He goes on to say that accepting these truths have helped he and his wife move on and heal as well as be better helpers in fighting his son’s addiction.

Parents concerned that their children might be using drugs should trust their instincts.  They should watch for changes in physical appearance as well as poor performance at work or school.  They should also be aware of any missing money or signs of possible theft.  And, most importantly, they need to be involved in their children’s lives and be aware of what they are doing and who their friends are.  If you are the parent of an addict, you may gain strength in knowing that other parents are suffering, too.  You are not alone.

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