Parents of Addicts Archives -
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Dear Mom, My Addiction Was Never Your Fault

Dear Mom, My Addiction Was Never Your Fault

I’ve decided to touch on something that means more to me than there are words to describe it.

That is, my mom.

To me, the word mom is synonymous with every great quality I’ve ever known or could hope to have. My mother is fiercely loyal, devoted and courageous. She is also the most compassionate, considerate and loving person I know. She sacrificed all to give me a chance at having a full and amazing life, and she continues to do so. My mother gives her life to nurturing the ones she loves spiritually, mentoring me emotionally, and ensuring that I know, even when I did not believe in myself, that someone does.

Recently I was faced with a conversation about mothers and I was suddenly startled at a realization; in my addiction I put my mother through so much more than I ever gave credit, and she was still my hero. There is something to be said about the way a mom will care acutely and unconditionally, and my mom is a champion of the heart. I think it gives me even more reason to talk about this.

Sharing the Burden

Of course a mother is intrinsically protective. The lioness guards her cubs with ferocity; passionately committed to safeguarding her child. Of course we all become handfuls sooner rather than later, but thankfully mom is always there, trying to keep us alive and in check. My mom poured her heart into trying to teach me to be a man of integrity. So naturally, when I fell, her heart sank with me.

I will never forget having to tell my mom I was going back to drug rehab for the second time in a year. It was not the first time we had cried together, but it was different. The pain and fear in her face, the look of resignation and acceptance. That was all hard enough, but her words made it so much harder. She said:

“What didn’t I do right? Why have I failed my only son?”

She wasn’t asking me, she was praying out loud. It broke me. Even now, almost 4 years sober, reading those words makes my chest heavy. Those words really emphasize the idea that many parents of addicts will try and take responsibility for their children’s addictions.

Many parents have a habit of trying to carry the weight of their children’s burdens for them. They see their kids as reflections of themselves and their own actions. Just as they delight in the child’s every success, not matter how trivial it may seem, they also embrace the pain of their child’s mistakes. Thus, they frequently try to shoulder some of the accountability. They ask things like,

What if I had showed them more affection?

Was I too affectionate?

What if I was too tough?

Was I not tough enough?

How could I have done better?

When a child gets in trouble, or even sometimes when they become very sick, some parents want to assume responsibility for it all. They take on guilt and blame that doesn’t necessarily belong to them. I was both sick and in a world of trouble and my mom didn’t want me to do it alone.

My mom always believed in sharing the burden with anything I struggled through. She was trying to take as much of it as she could because she could see how hopeless I really was. My mom did not yell at me or ridicule me; she just wanted to protect me… even from myself. After years of hiding the truth and taking advantage of the kindness of her and my family, she never stopped trying to keep me safe.

Placing the Blame

Some might say (and I’m sure a few of my aunts and uncles do) that my mother would defend me to a fault. At first she wanted to believe it was the people I hung out with and the things they convinced me to do. Then, her focus turned on her. I could read it on her face; running through the last 24 years trying to figure out what had gone wrong and how she could have stopped it… asking herself if she might still be able to say something that fixed it.

Sure, there is some rationale to the concept that childhood trauma and emotional baggage can contribute to stress and depression, which can help inspire or influence substance abuse. But these factors are not guarantees or requirements. Neither are they the whole picture.

To put it simply… blaming a parent for a child’s addiction is like blaming a stop sign for speeding ticket.

In co-dependent relationships parents and children tend to get so used to sharing the burden that the blame naturally comes with it. Part of being a parent of someone recovering from addiction means you will eventually need to become comfortable with setting boundaries. For the co-dependent parent/child this can be an incredibly difficult thing to do, but in the long run it can alleviate unjustified guilt.

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And as much as my mom wanted to protect me, love me and save me… it wasn’t her responsibility to fix me either.

Never Your Fault

This is important for ALL parents who end up in this position to understand- your child’s addiction is NEVER your fault.

People do not become addicts because their home life was tough. We don’t become addicts because we think we are unappreciated, unloved or just misunderstood. There is a lot more to how people become addicted than their relationships with their parents, and it’s not just the drugs. Addiction is not something we decide to have; it is something that happens with the right combination of genetics, environment and repeated behaviors.

A parent may provide their child with the greatest of all privileges, opportunities and support, but that doesn’t guarantee they won’t become addicted to substances. Kids can also grow up in a broken home with addicted parents and never use drugs in their lives. You could teach your kids very empowering and stable values, but it doesn’t mean that they have a 0% chance of ever trying something that might change them.

The science of addiction credits a genetic predisposition that combines with a specific environment and a specific set of behaviors. It is a perfect storm that is unpredictable in many ways, because the specific ingredients of the addiction formula are exclusively unique to each individual. It isn’t anyone’s fault, and it definitely isn’t a parents.

Dear Mom

To my mom…

Your love is the thing that kept me alive long enough to get here, so you should never question whether or not it was good enough. The problem wasn’t where I grew up, or the friends I had, and it definitely wasn’t how you raised me.

I was looking for a piece of myself I hadn’t had time to grow into. It was the piece I didn’t know how to look for in a healthy way, but you could not show me because no one can teach us but ourselves. Maybe the experience of looking itself is actually how we find it. Drugs and alcohol were a distraction from not having the answer to a much deeper question.

Mom, every loving and kind part of me came from you. You are one of the most powerful and influential women in my life. Still, the truth is my addiction was never up to you. I don’t say this to undermine your impact as a mother; it is to remind you that we are individuals, and that you have always done the best you could through every adversity. One day I pray I can be half the parent you are. I love you, and I only know what love truly means because of you.

To all mothers of addicts…

You are some of the most courageous and powerful women on the planet. It comes with the territory of bringing life into the world I guess. I can’t tell you how many other momma’s boys and mini-moms I’ve met in the recovery community. Even if your child is still struggling, always remember your strength and compassion. Always remember it is not your fault. You are amazing, and we are better because of you. Don’t give up.

Having a family member who has suffered can be harder on you than you know. Too many people don’t know how to get the help they need for their loved ones, and too many of our loved ones suffer for too long because they are afraid of the affects that the ones they care about most will face. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

5 Things We Want the Parents of Addicts to Know

5 Things We Want the Parents of Addicts to Know

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

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.

To learn more about how to handle the difficult emotions and situations parents and family members face with an addicted loved one, download our FREE e-book

“What is the Difference Between Helping and Hurting”

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Here are 5 things we want the parents of addicts to know.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Addiction doesn’t just affect the person who is drinking or drugging, it affects all those that are close to that person. Emotionally, physically, financially, the toll can be significant. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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