Parents always make their children’s well-being their number one concern. As children get older, they often experiment with drugs and alcohol. However, no parent ever dreams that that experimentation will turn into drug and/or alcohol addictions. Unfortunately, it can, and it often does.
Many parents are right there beside their children along for the rollercoaster ride—whether it is talking, yelling, crying, praying, begging, and/or pleading. Parents try to save their children from themselves, but the thing is that the child needs to want to be saved before you, as a parent, can do anything for them. Unfortunately, this is the harsh truth for the parents of an addict.
The best thing that you can do, as a parent, is to trust your gut instincts early on. If you suspect that your child has a problem, trust that feeling that you have. Rather than paying attention to what your child is saying, pay attention to your child’s actions.
While it is true that trust is particularly important between a parent and their child, you don’t want your love for your child to keep you from ignoring what is right in front of you. If there is an evident problem and your child still lives under your roof (and/or is still a minor), make sure to address the problem immediately. Your child needs a parent, not a best friend, and you need to provide a set of ground rules with certain expectations as well as consequences.
Now, if your child is grown and not living at home, then you may take a different approach, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t address your concerns. You may want to be “friends” with your adult child, it is far more important that you make the addictive behavior of your child aware to them before others notice it.
Whether you are here because you have been on the rollercoaster ride with your child for some time or the ride is just beginning, you are in need of some answers. While we don’t have the answers, we do have some information that can prove to be beneficial to you in your situation.
- Your parenting tactics and actions did not cause your child to become an alcohol or drug addict. Sure, there may be some things that you would choose to differently if you had the chance. However, at the time, you thought that the decisions that you made were the right ones. So, don’t waste your time and energy going over what could have been and second-guessing yourself; it isn’t worth it.
- You cannot fix your child’s drug or alcohol addiction—no matter how much you wish you could. In the end, it is up to your child to find a sober life. You can offer your child help, by providing them with self-help books, going with them to support groups, spending money on rehab, and more. However, none of that is going to be helpful until they have hit their true rock bottom and are personally—physically and emotionally—ready to go down the path to recovery.
- You have your version of your child’s rock bottom, and they have their version of their rock bottom. Your rock bottom may be them dropping out of school and/or having to go to the hospital because of an overdose. However, their rock bottom may be far more severe—and it may be something that you don’t even want to fathom.
- It won’t work telling your child “if they loved you” they would clean up and get sober. They do love you, but they are addicted to alcohol or drugs, so they can’t see past that.
- And while your child does indeed love you, they are indeed capable of lying to you and stealing from you in order to get the drugs and alcohol that they need to continue their addiction, so don’t assume otherwise.
- You aren’t protecting your child by bailing them out every time they get in trouble related to their addiction. Instead, it is simply enabling their addiction with no consequences. It is important that your child faces consequences related to their addictive behavior, especially early on. This is true whether it is a bad credit score, an eviction, or the loss of a job, as it can be a good lesson for them and potentially help them see that they truly do have a problem. Let them learn that they have a mess that needs to be cleaned up—by them.
- Along the same lines, you also don’t need to bail your child out of jail if they are arrested related to their addiction. While your gut may be telling you to bail them out because they are in jail, more than likely, your child is going to survive being incarcerated—even if they are in jail for a while. We spoke of your child’s rock bottom earlier, and spending days, weeks, or months in jail may just be the slap in the face (aka rock bottom) that they need to wake up and realize that they have a problem that they need to deal with.
- One thing that is never wrong is letting your child know that you love them. Another thing that is never wrong is letting them know that you don’t like or support their addictive behavior. Addicts are cunning and manipulative, regardless of whether you want to believe this as their parent. Let your child know that they cannot take your money, use your car, or jeopardize your well-being. At some point, there may come a time that you need to let them know they are no longer welcome in your home. Always, always protect yourself, your health, your assets, and your finances—no matter how hard it may be.
- Believe it or not, it may not always be enough to unconditionally love your child. There will be instances when your child will harm or hurt themselves—and your love just simply can’t keep it from happening. Your child may love relationships, friendships, etc. They could potentially lose everything as a result of their drug or alcohol use. No matter how bad it gets, you will still love them, though they may find this hard to believe and will likely push you away. However, make sure they know you love them and that you have faith that they can recover from this.
- Know that there is always hope. Even in your child’s absolute darkest hour, it is possible for them to find what they have needed all along. So, never, ever give up on them.
If you have a child that is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, don’t give up on them. If your child is willing, come talk to us at Shadow Mountain Recovery to discuss what options are available to get your child on the road to sobriety, one step at a time.