Having now been on this crazy ride called addiction for about 8 years, I have come up with this list of Truths about parenting an addict. Feel free to add your own! Here goes:
10 Truths About Being The Parent Of An Addict
- It’s NOT your fault. This is probably the most important truth for you to learn. Right now you’re thinking, “He’s MY child – it was MY responsibility to teach him right from wrong. Where did I fail???” Please, for the love of all things, know this: YOU did not fail. YOUR CHILD has had a lapse in judgment, which has nothing whatsoever to do with you, or how you raised him, or how much you love him. Which brings us to the next truth:
- You cannot love this disease away. Oh, how I wish this one wasn’t on the list, for if I could love him enough to make him stop this madness, I would. But I cannot. Only he can learn to love himself enough to make himself jump off the roller coaster.
- You cannot buy his way out of this disease. Again, how I wish this one wasn’t on the list. If I could I would have thrown (name your dollar amount here) at this heinous disease right from the start, and he would have been cured. IMPORTANT: this includes bailing him out of jail/paying for lawyers/paying for rehab over and over again. Don’t do it! Which brings us to our next truth:
- Jail is NOT a bad place. Neither is prison. They have 3 square meals, a bed to sleep in, and they are clean – probably for the first time in a long time. And you have your sanity back for a little while. Enjoy it while you can.
- You will never stop wondering. This one really upsets me, because I REALLY REALLY want to someday be able to get completely past this, and no longer worry or wonder. But the reality is, I will probably spend the rest of my/his life just waiting for that other shoe to drop. It sucks.
- He will do things that you can’t even believe he would ever do. Like, steal all your stuff, or use in your house right under your nose, or lie to you over and over again. Just remember: this is the disease of addiction doing these things, not your child.
- He doesn’t understand this disease any more than you do. When asked, “Why did you do that?” the only response I have ever gotten has been, “I don’t know.” When I told him, “I don’t understand” his response has always been, “Neither do I.”
- They don’t want to be an addict, as much as, or more than, you don’t want them to be an addict. They didn’t ask for this disease, and believe it or not, they don’t want to have the disease of addiction. I know this one is hard to fathom, especially in the throes of another relapse, but they truly do not want to be addicts. They don’t want to get arrested, they don’t want to go to jail, they don’t want to go to rehab. Who would??? This is NO WAY excuses their behavior or gives you any excuse to enable them. Just know that they don’t want to be in this position either.
- Prayer works. Whether you are religious or not, a believer or not, prayer works. Even if it’s just finding 10 quiet minutes first thing in the morning to shut it all off and de-stress, do it. And remember, you truly are blessed in other ways. Say “thank you” to your Higher Power for this.
- You are loved. By family, by friends, and even by your addict. Don’t ever forget this.