“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” This quote by Ann Landers is true for everyone. Parents of addicts can take heart knowing they are not alone in the struggle to let go of a loved one who is abusing substances; whether drugs, alcohol, sex, or the myriad of other things abused.
Parents of Addicts Coping with Substance Abuse
Coping with a loved one’s substance abuse can devastate, but for the parents of addicts it causes unimaginable pain. The lies and stealing hurt, but watching the child you raised fall into the seemingly endless trap of addiction seems hopeless. No matter how the parent tries to help, the child returns to substance abuse. What can be done?
Parents of Addicts Need to Accept Their Child has a Problem
The first step in recovery for parents of addicts and the addicted child is to accept the problem. Addiction is a disease and cannot be controlled like many parents wish to believe. Like cancer, addiction can be defeated, but it takes time and hard work. The addict will not stop using just because the parent wants him to stop.
Parents of Addicts Need to be Educated on Addiction
After accepting that addiction is a disease and you cannot make your child stop, educate yourself on addiction. Learn how addiction changes the brain. Understand how the substance being abused affects the body and mind of your child.
Once addiction is understood from a physiological standpoint, the disease can be treated as that- a disease. Once understood, conversation between parents of addicts and the addicts can change. Morality, choice, and rebellion can be left out as they only cause the addict to withdrawal from you instead of the addiction.
Parents of Addicts Need Help Too
As parents of addicts begin to understand addiction is a disease, they will need support learning how to deal with their children appropriately. Seek a support group for parents. Al-Anon and CoDA will support the parents and teach proper support for the addicted children. Another resource is The Addicts Mom, an on-line community for parents of addicts.
Parents of Addicts Can Learn to Let Go
Support groups will teach parents of addicts how to let go in a healthy way. This does not mean abandoning the addict or giving up hope. Letting go means accepting you cannot force another person to get sober. Instead, you can set healthy boundaries with the addict. Along with healthy boundaries, you must learn to take care of yourself. You cannot help the addict when he is ready unless you are healthy and strong.
Parents of Addicts Can Let Go
Letting go of the idea you can control the addict’s behavior is freeing. With this goes the self-rejection and resentment for not being able to do so previously. Many other things can be let go of as well. Life expectations, past experiences, and things you cannot control should be at the top of the list.