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