Having a family member or loved one struggling with drugs or alcohol is an incredibly tough place to be. For parents, it can be one of the most emotionally difficult experiences. Having a child who is using drugs or alcohol can be terrifying, but it can also cause a lot of internal conflict and self-doubt. Loved ones frequently find themselves looking for answers to questions they never knew to ask, and wondering how they can help make a difference. The parents of addicts have to face a lot of unique and intimate obstacles, but there are some very important things to remember when facing this painful situation.
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Here are 5 things we want the parents of addicts to know.
You are not alone
When struggling with something as personal and as frightening as having an addicted child, people can feel separate from others. Many parents feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed when their child is struggling with substance use disorder. This embarrassment or shame can lead to feelings of isolation.
The truth is there are countless families all across the nation going through the same thing. You are not alone. There are support groups specifically for the families and loved ones of addicts, and large networks of people seeking to provide information and support to parents of addicts who don’t know what to do or how to help.
In the face of the opioid epidemic in America, thousands of families have stepped up to advocate for better resources to educate the public about the dangers of addiction, and for better treatment opportunities. Nationwide organizations created by the parents of addicts fight to raise awareness, while treatment providers put an emphasis on the family being active in the recovery process.
It is not your fault
Of course parents take responsibility for their children, because it is their duty when they are born to protect them, raise them and help them grow to their potential. So it is no surprise that parents of addicts so often blame themselves for what their child is going through.
Many ask- what if I had been better? Should I have been more (or less) strict? Should I have been more (or less) affectionate? Parents of addicts can beat themselves up very easily with wondering what if, but the truth is it is not your fault.
Yes, many experts say there is a genetic predisposition, but everyone has one. It isn’t your genes, it’s a combination of unique DNA and unique circumstances. Yes, the environment matters, but again there is no one-size-fits-all formula to substance use disorder. People of all walks of life, in every neighborhood and from every kind of home suffer from addiction. Therefore, there is no exact parenting technique that can guarantee a child will never become addicted.
Most parents of addicts are the greatest version of a parent they possibly can be, but addiction does not discriminate. Helping more parents and family members to see this is another way we can overcome the stigma of addiction.
You can help overcome stigma
A lot of that shame and isolation we talked about above stems from the stigma of addiction. Some people still think substance use disorder is a moral failing or character flaw. They believe becoming addicted is a choice people made, not an illness people suffer from. This stigma makes people afraid to be open with others about their child’s addiction, which cuts them off from peer support.
It is important for the parents of addicts to help destroy the old stigmas that give people a false idea of what addiction really is. Parents have the power to share their experience, strength and stories of hope from a unique perspective. Addiction is one of the most misunderstood diseases in modern times, but the more parents of addicts share their stories, more awareness and understanding can help create innovations in treatment.
By being open about the difficulties your child has faced instead of hiding from it, not only can you be a warning to other families, but you can also empower them to understand that they too are not alone. Parents have a unique potential to stand up for their children and for each other to overcome stigma.
You have to take care of yourself
As a parent, it is absolutely understandable that your instincts tell you to put your own health and well-being after that of your child. But the reality is that if you are physically and emotionally exhausted, stressed out and unhealthy then there is no way you can provide the kind of help and support your child needs. You cannot be useful to anyone, especially your child, if you have not taken care of yourself.
If the parents of addicts can prioritize their own well-being, then they have the energy and resources to be more present and helpful to their addicted child. Allowing yourself to be as well as possible is not neglecting your loved one, it is preparing you for the opportunity to make a difference in their life.
This includes setting boundaries with your children, and being honest with them about what you are going through under these circumstances. It is not always easy, but it does matter.
We want to help!
At Palm Healthcare we want to make a difference in the lives of individuals and families who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and addiction. We believe in holistic healing as a stepping stone to real, lasting recovery. Palm Healthcare Company believes in the importance of uniting the parents, children, siblings and loved ones in the cause of progressive action toward amazing solutions that can not only save lives, but change them forever. For several years our facilities have worked to transform the lives of addicts and those closest to them.
Our Family Program is uniquely designed with healing for you and your loved one in mind. The Family Program focuses on improving communication, compassion, understanding and the overall support and of the entire family. We encourage all parents of addicts to research the Palm Healthcare Company Family Program and reach out to us with any questions.