You are great parents

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You have a child who is abusing or addicted to drugs. You have reached the end of your rope and your wallet. Your own health is declining and your emotional health is waning.

Your life is in chaos

You’ve dropped everything to run to the rescue multiple times.

You want to fix this.

This one is for the parents who have tried to help, have done everything, only to realize that nothing you have done has helped change your child’s behavior.

You are used up and you have decided to let go.

This is the hardest place in the world to be

It’s utterly petrifying. You know that you might get that dreaded call but you realize you can’t fix this. The system doesn’t help much. It’s as broken as they are when they are using.

You come to realize they can die in your home, or out there. You have set your boundaries because you have to to save your sanity and other members of your family.

Addiction, especially combined with mental illness, is the most insidious disease combination on planet earth.

Because of the disease, your child is often angry and blames everyone but himself. Some of them yell expletives non-stop, harass you, steal from you, manipulate you and use you up.

Or they never call or get in touch so you have no idea where they are or if they are alive.

Again, this is not something they are doing on purpose, it’s part of this ugly disease. You feel guilty drawing a line in the sand with your child that is suffering from a disease. It’s not like you’d make them leave your house if they had cancer. It doesn’t feel natural and it’s counter to everything you think a parent should do.

One friend told me her son called her right before he rammed his car into someone’s house. Tells them right before he does it that he is tired of living with addiction and is going to kill himself.

He tells them they are part of why he’s not any better so they need to listen. Then all they hear is a car crash, screams of anguish and glass breaking. This particular young man did live through it and found recovery.

Sometimes this is a parent’s final memory.

Sometimes it’s marks the start of recovery.

Sometimes this is the first of many events for decades.

None of this is a result of your being a lousy parent

You may not have done everything perfect, but you did nothing to cause all of this. As a result of having a child with this disease, you are less judgmental of others. More empathetic and understanding.

My son was manipulative when using. We did lose him to suicide. But we had come to a place where we had to let go. While he never threatened suicide or admitted to depression, we tried to help him but he didn’t do anything to help himself.

From my 4 years at Families Anonymous, I kept these 4 mantras on my phone and referenced them often. It’s #4 that’s the kicker– the realization that you can’t do this for someone else, that their journey is not yours and that many times their only chance of survival is for you to change your own behavior.

As odd as it sounds, focusing more on your own health and emotional recovery from the chaos known as drug addiction and mental illness, can inspire your child to seek recovery.

Others might not understand that. But I do. And so do millions of other parents because they’ve been there.

Mantras – Four things

1. Enabling, rescuing or weaving a safety net blocks recovery

2. Addicts or drug abusers who are not allowed to be uncomfortable, have no incentive to change

3. Mistakes, acting out and relapses are opportunities to learn

4. Their journey is not your journey

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Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

6 thoughts on “You are great parents”

  1. Why is it easier to let go of a parent or sibling, but a child not so much…has taken my husband and I 12 years plus but we are finally on the same page and did that prolong the disease…perhaps. ..but only when you realize they have to ‘want’ it do you realize nothi g you say or do matters until THEY want it…and often like many of those who struggle with a chronic disease some do not make it…

    1. It is so counterintuitive to us as parents to let go to the extent we have to for a child with addiction. Because we know that it could inspire a path to recovery, or worse, they die from it.

  2. I’m a big fan of your’s & find this to be one of the most insightful articles I’ve read on addiction. The day our son Tyler took his life, we had given him an ultimatum; go back to rehab or leave our house. I prayed & told God we couldn’t continue to tolerate Tyler’s behavior; then I turned it over to Him. I can’t say I necessarily liked the way God chose to answer my prayer but he did answer!

  3. My situation was similar but different. My son was self medicating with alchohol – I have no idea to what extent. He suffered depression and lived in NYC and kept me at arm’s length. I could only try to help long distance and when he came home for visits. I had started to research online how to help someone with depression, when I too suffer from a form of it. He had a therapist up there and she said she thought he seemed to be doing well. We were expecting him home for Christmas in 3 days. I thought we were helping him to manage and giving him good advice and support. He was suffering his first break up from his first real love. I don’t think it was planned. We never saw him again.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss. It is so difficult to help someone with mental illness and addiction. My son is an alcoholic who has been in rehab three times. He has bipolar disease, severe anxiety, depression and ADD. Two years ago, his father, my loving husband of 43 years who also had bipolar disease died by suicide. My son who is 36 started drinking heavily and lost his girlfriend of 15 years because she could not bear his mood swings any longer. He has been in the hospital several times for attempted suicide. Because he lost his job, he was homeless and lived in a shelter for 90 days. When the time was up at the shelter, I paid for a room for him. He is now in detox again and I realize I cannot help him. He has seen a psychiatrist since he was 5 years old. I probably enabled him by sending him money many times when he called saying he was destitute. He is outside Chicago and I am in Pennsylvania. My daughter who is a social worker begs me to let him go, that he has to find his way. I don’t know where to turn. Complicating everything is the fact that he received a DUI and needs to satisfy the penalties of that in Illinois.

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