A MOTHER'S THOUGHTS
Being a mother of addicts is a struggle that is so heart breaking it is almost unbearable. Not only does it affect every aspect of your life, but it can also affect your physical well-being. Unfortunately, I have experienced both as a mother of a daughter and son in recovery. I have not survived this journey alone but have done so with the help of God and many others both in recovery and outside of that community.
I believe once children reach adult age, they alone are responsible for the decisions they make. They have all the power to make these decisions intelligently and move in a healthy direction in their lives. Their addiction distorts this direction in all ways. They initially choose to take the drugs but this becomes altered in their brain and this choice is no longer theirs. But they still have no right to blame their parents for their situation. That being said, they will need support to find their way. I think as parents our interaction with our addicted child should be limited to support and promotion of that child seeking recovery. We must allow them to face the consequences of their current situation to enable them to see that a change is needed. Yes, this means learning to say NO even though that is difficult. It is often much easier to just say yes so as not to deal with the begging, blaming and beating parents will endure while their child is in active addiction.
I believe there is no clear line when it comes to enabling. Each child, each situation is different. I try to remember something I was told in one of my very first alanon meetings: if it is something they should be doing for themselves, don’t do it. For example: I stopped looking for jobs and submitting their application, responding to the items necessary for their legal issues, cooking their meals and doing all of their general life skills. I stopped making excuses for their actions. Recovery is in the hands of your child and seeking support will teach you that you must focus on yourself (mother of an addict) as that is the only person you can control.
You DID NOT Cause It!
You CAN NOT Control It!
You CAN NOT Cure It!
I said these three statements over and over and over again to myself in the early days of my journey as well as repeating it to both of my addicted children in an effort to keep my sanity.
I believe addiction IS a disease. This was a very hard truth for me to swallow. I often told my children, sarcastically, that they got it from the water in our small town and that’s why all of their friends have it. The American Medical Association (AMA) has recognized addiction as a disease since 1956. Many people who are not educated about addiction believe it is the addicts choice to do drugs. I believe this is true for the initial few times but once changes occur in their brain, they no longer have a choice. This is the disease.
Please know there is RECOVERY, both for the child and for the parent. I am happier and healthier today through the work my children have accomplished in their respective programs. Our relationships are better than ever before! Yes, I was certain they were unrepairable. But it is possible. I strongly recommend all parents educate themselves about addiction as much as they are able to. This knowledge will help you to support your child in their recovery. My children are both nearing 8 years of sobriety and I still attend alanon/naranon meetings, go to recovery meetings with my children and attend outings in the recovery community.
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ADDICTION IS A FAMILY DISEASE
Addiction impacts many aspects of the family including finances, physical health, and psychological health. Family dynamics are often changed. Families of addicts are affected in some way by the individual’s substance abuse. The family typically adapts to the dependent person by taking on roles that help reduce stress, deal with uncertainty, and allow the family to function within the craziness and fear created by the addict.
HOW DO I TELL IF MY LOVED ONE IS ADDICTED TO DRUGS OR ALCOHOL?
The signs vary depending on the person and the drug, but some possible common signs are:
- exhibits mood changes
- failure to fulfill responsibilities at school/work
- isolation or disinterest in activities
- impaired speech
- bloodshot eyes and/or pupils larger or smaller than usual
- lack of concern for physical appearance or personal hygiene
- changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- sudden weight loss/gain
- unusually clumsy, lacking coordination, poor balance
- strange odor on breath, body, or clothing
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY LOVED ONE NEEDS TREATMENT?
Families play a key role in assisting their loved one obtain treatment. Our representatives are available to guide and support family members in understanding the various services offered at Reprieve Recovery Center. Your loved one should participate in an assessment by one of our representatives. We will talk with your loved one about what drugs they are using and what problems they are experiencing as a result. We can determine if treatment is needed at this point and at what intensity. Loved One's Assessment
HOW DO I FIND A LEGITIMATE TREATMENT CENTER?
Search results for phrases like “rehabs near me,” along with the resulting ads, are often peppered with 800 numbers for lead generators, third-party call centers selling potential clients to rehabs. Some rehabs run hotlines that seem like unbiased referral services, but refer most clients to treatment centers they own. At Reprieve, we depend on word of mouth recommendations, relationships with other legitimate detox and treatment centers, and marketing within our community for referrals.
Traditional Al-Anon and Nar-Anon meetings are available internationally.
Websites and Facebook groups also offer support.
The Addict’s Mom is a group focusing on the mothers of addicts.
Learn to Cope is a peer-support network.
Parents of Addicted Loved-Ones is another group.