- You can’t “fix” the substance abuser. He is responsible for his own addiction. It is his issue to solve.
- Don’t count on 28-day rehabs to “cure” your child. At best, they will detox your child, give a little therapy, and suggest therapists for when he exits the rehab. The longer your child is in recovery programs, there is a greater chance for sobriety. Relapse is common!
- While the parent doesn’t want to be called an “enabler” or “co-dependent” by anyone, don’t withdraw love from the one with the substance abuse disorder! Low self-esteem has lead him into drugs and while he is working on recovery, he doesn’t need to feel as if his parents don’t care.
- Don’t be addicted to your child’s addiction. You will feel like a failure every time he relapses, think you’re not doing enough to make him “straighten up and fly right.” There is a saying that “if an active addict likes you, you’re probably overcompensating.”
- Get thee to a support group. You may think you’re helping your addicted child, but you may be “spinning your wheels.” Find out from others how they handled addiction. You will discover new perspectives. Support groups are particularly good for parents who feel embarrassed about their families’ addiction. What gets talked about never leaves the room!
- Find time for activities, hobbies, exercise that you enjoy. Your self-preservation is important. Try to balance yourself with relaxation yet try to stay physically fit as well.
- The addict should be made accountable for his own actions. For example, you shouldn’t have to wake your son for an appointment or work. And if he is late for those appointments, don’t offer excuses for him or drive fast to get him there! Don’t let him blame others for his behavior!
- When your child is in active addiction, secure your wallet and belongings, including your prescriptions. Don’t give him cash; it may go toward drugs. Even gas or food cards could be sold for cash.
- When you catch your child sober, build on it! Praise your child, acknowledge how hard he is working on recovery. Say how proud you are of him. “Honey works better than vinegar!”
- Don’t force-feed 12-step programs. Your child may be more apt to succeed if he chooses volunteering, learns a trade, does yoga. These may be his “higher” powers.” Whatever HE chooses should give him a greater sense of purpose, provide structure, and not bring him into contact with “friends” he used to hang out with or drug dealers.
Wesley Cullen Davidson
Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting. Currently, she is targeting her writing about recovery to parents whose children have substance abuse disorders.