What About the Mental Health of Parents with Addicted Loved Ones?

My last blog (May 4th) dealt with the high co-morbidity of mental illness with substance abusers.  But what about the mental health of the sober parents?  Don’t they also suffer anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, while trying to “control” the behavior of a child who is clearly out-of-control?

Drug addiction affects the whole family; it alters the family dynamic.  It can deteriorate a person’s physical health, family finances, and psychological well-being.

Many parents suffer in silence for fear of being judged as “bad parents.”  They are unprepared for the consequences of having a child succumb to the disease of addiction: the trials of trying to “fix” the problem, the resentment and anger at their afflicted child and possibly their spouse, not to mention the guilt and self- blame.

So, what can a parent do for their own overwhelming feelings? Seek professional counselling.  You will learn to change the patterns that aren’t working and that produce angst.

Involving a non judgmental approach, with the right support from therapists and addiction professionals, families can strengthen their bonds from working together.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Newer models for family training include the CRAFT method ( community reinforcement approach and family training) is a behavior therapy approach in psychotherapy that will teach you positive communication and teach your child natural consequences of his actions that will lead him toward responsibility. CRAFT has you set goals and problem solve and includes drink/drug refusal training, relapse prevention.  It has a high success rate.

PAL, (Parents of Addicted Loved Ones) provides “hope and support through addiction education.”  According to author, licensed Substance Abuse counselor and life coach Michael Speakman, “the only people who can offer to help are the parents of the addicted love ones.”  This program created by Speakman is based on lessons he learned in treatment centers at which he counselled.

Family therapy takes determination and integrity. It may feel exhausting at times so it’s important to take care of yourself and take time to recover.  You will need private time to recharge your batteries.  Some suggestions:

  • Hobbies such as knitting.
  • Relaxing pampering treatments at a spa.
  • Exercise that’s gentle such as walking or swimming.
  • Social events with friends:  dining, playing cards.

If needs be, you may prefer having your own therapy sessions, at least in the beginning,  with a mental health professional.  The point of #breaking the silence is to learn new coping strategies, improve interaction within the family and break old patterns that weren’t working.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

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.