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The one piece of advise you would give to a newbie parent of an addicted child

Old 10-05-2013, 10:24 AM
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The one piece of advise you would give to a newbie parent of an addicted child

When I reflect back on my journey over the last 3 years, after I discovered my son's addiction, there are many things I wish someone had sat me down and told me at the outset. I ended up making many mistakes as I flailed about in my desperation to exorcise this demon from my son's brain. (I recognize that I may not have listened at that time, as many things are only learnt by direct experience).

My goal is to compile a list for a newbie parent into the world of addiction of teenagers or young adults.

So here is my question, what is the one thing you have learnt in your journey through addiction which you wish you had learnt earlier on in your journey? Or what is the biggest mistake you made, which you wish you knew better?
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:32 AM
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To start of this list, here is what I would tell the newbie parent,

Your world has changed. Your world will never be the same again. The dreams you have had for your child have died. Take some time to grieve for those lost dreams. But don't dwell on them too long. Let go. They were not his/her dreams. New dreams will arise when recovery takes place. These will be his or her dreams.
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:33 AM
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Talk to them. Stay Calm. Don't shame or blame. Establish boundaries. And allow them to feel the full force of the consequences of their use (legal, school, etc.) without protecting them.
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:11 AM
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Find a meeting and go, find several and try them all until you find one that fits. Commit to finding help for yourself with the same energy you committed to finding help for your child. Because you are going to need that help one day soon or you're going to sink into the darkness with your child like this mama did.

It was recommended to me that I do this about 6 months into my son's addiction, about the time my codependency was becoming obvious. I didn't listen. I thought "he is the one with a problem, he is the one who needs meetings" and just dug my heels in.

The best gift I ever gave myself, the gift that literally saved MY life was finding that first meeting and walking through to doors. That was the beginning of my recovery and the life ring that I so desperately needed.

Hugs
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:17 AM
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Although I am not the parent of an addict, I am the sister of an addict, and have watched my parents struggle with it for 15 years.
I would say- know what you may be doing to enable them and stop doing it/ tough love.
And find support for yourself. My mom and dad have suffered needlessly for way too long before I took it upon myself to find this site for myself and my dad (I hope you've started coming on the boards and at least reading them, Dad)- and to find meetings and schedules locally that I can bring my mom to when she gets her mobile oxygen unit.
Hugs to you all
Heather
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:34 AM
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I was with your 25 year old sons and daughter in rehab. It was hard for me as I am old enough to be their mother. They were incredible, every one of them. There was a marked difference between the kids who had a cushy soft landing and the ones who understood that they owned the consequences.

It was heartbreaking to see parents come in for family week, we were all used to being in treatment. I watched one mother pledge to give her 25 year old daughter more room and not question her choices. The mother threw herself into learning everything she could. The day after she left her daughter took off with a 50 married guy. The girl was in my dorm, I watched her leave. She had 14 suitcases. She wasn't worried about the fallout. Her parents were unwitting accomplices to her behavior, and that broke my heart.

Let them crash, otherwise it feeds the disease.
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:00 PM
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I would say: For a troubled teen---Get help from the professionals as soon as trouble raises its head---For the kid---And the parents (at the same time). Don't wait until the house is half burned to call the fire department.

For the young adult---I have never seen an adult child recover while living in the parental house. They might recover while living in a shelter, under a bridge, or in a sober house---but, for sure, not in the parental house.


for the parent--never operate from guilt.

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Old 10-05-2013, 12:54 PM
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I have made every mistake possible trying to "save" JJ. In the last 3-4 years, I hid his indiscretions from my husband, and tried everything I could possibly do to control him. He stole from us three times and had to do jail time for two of those three. It took him hitting his most rock bottom and spending 4 months in jail not knowing if he was going to get probation again or face prison. He chose to stay in this program and he is now realizing how much life he has wasted on drugs. I had to let go and it was the hardest, most painful and terrifying thing I have ever done.
I advise those parents of young adults to NOT try and fix them but hold your boundaries. Believe it or not, once the drugs leave their system, they start to be human again. It takes time, patience (something I still struggle with!) and FAITH.
Also for me: I never stopped loving JJ and I visited him every weekend while he was in jail. I also visit him each week in rehab. These visits are helping me forge a new relationship with my adult son.
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:34 PM
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I would say to them:

You are caught in the middle of an 8.5 magnitude earthquake.
Nothing you did (or could have done!) had any part in bringing
this about.......but your decision stream past this point will
determine your survival probabilities.

Do not be one of the unfortunates who freeze in terror.
Do not be the one stuck in a loop thinking "this is'nt happening"

It IS happening.

Act. Now. With the knowledge that many, many people will be killed
by this event----make the survivors choice that YOU won't be one of
them......and go find a doorframe to brace yourself in.
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:49 PM
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Make a commitment to yourself to never do for your child what they are capable of doing for themselves. I used to think I wasn't doing any harm by "Helping" to make things easier for my son. I have come to believe that in doing so I subconsciously was telling him even I didn't think he was capable. Trust the urge to bail out, to make things easier. I wish I had given my son the opportunity to solve more of his own problems.
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Old 10-05-2013, 02:18 PM
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This will hurt so much that you should not expect you can face this alone and take sensible decissions that point in the right direction. You need help.
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Old 10-05-2013, 05:16 PM
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Loved this!

Thank you kind eyes!

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...st4138428:tyou
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Old 10-06-2013, 08:09 AM
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Just to build on kindeye's advise.
Talk to them. Stay Calm. Don't shame or blame. Establish boundaries. And allow them to feel the full force of the consequences of their use (legal, school, etc.) without protecting them.
I would add - avoid anger. If you lose your temper - you have lost the conversation. Its really a disease (a disease of choice a kind of brain disease). I don't think punishing the addict is the answer not is enabling them. Let them experience their own negative consequences. The whole idea is for them to seek treatment and recovery on their own - whatever that may be AA, NA, out-patient, in-patient, rehab etc.
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by pravchaw View Post
Just to build on kindeye's advise. I would add - avoid anger. If you lose your temper - you have lost the conversation. Its really a disease (a disease of choice a kind of brain disease). I don't think punishing the addict is the answer not is enabling them. Let them experience their own negative consequences. The whole idea is for them to seek treatment and recovery on their own - whatever that may be AA, NA, out-patient, in-patient, rehab etc.
I agree with you on your points about anger and not enabling. When my brother was a young teen, just starting out as an addict, our parents were separated. Dad was angry, mom enabled. The addict in my brother played them against one another and the addict was the winner.
Also even if they are made to go to rehab/treatment, if they do not want it themselves, it just won't work. The old adage "you can't help someone who won't help themselves" is so true with addiction. If love and good intentions and hope were enough to cure my brother of his addiction, my mom would have cured him a long time ago.
Cutting the ties has been the best thing my parents have done in his almost 20 year struggle. After his release from prison, he was not allowed to live with them. They did not put any money on his books in lockup this time, they did not give him money for phone calls. And when he got out, and we found out he was using again about a month later, they got an order or protection from the police. He is using- he can not come in their home. For nothing. With that protection order, they can call the police on him if he won't leave the house, or harasses them with phone calls all day. Sadly, fear of incarceration is a strong motivator for my brother. Stopping any & all enabling was and still is difficult for my parents. They love their son, they hate to see him suffering and hurting. But they now realize that without a desire for sobriety and without doing active work on his own to get and stay clean- any help/assistance they give him is not helping him get better, just helping him get high.
I think I should add- my addict brother is 34, and has been an addict more than half of his life. His addiction has escalated to this almost hopeless point over many many years. The only things that our parents could have done differently that would/could have made a difference was to stop enabling him much sooner, and finding help/ meetings for themselves sooner. The mental toll this has taken on our parents has taken years off of their lives, and they are also deserving of happiness in their own lives.
Be well
Heather
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:48 AM
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Great post, Sookie Some real gems here.
"you can't help someone who won't help themselves" is so true with addiction. If love and good intentions and hope were enough to cure my brother of his addiction, my mom would have cured him a long time ago.
Cutting the ties has been the best thing my parents have done in his almost 20 year struggle
The only things that our parents could have done differently that would/could have made a difference was to stop enabling him much sooner, and finding help/ meetings for themselves sooner
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:53 AM
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As a new mom of 2 AD's, in recovery, and a 14 yr old son experimenting with pot, I have learned to be calm, anger on my part just makes their AV smile, and you don't want that. Also I educated myself on their DOC, PAWS, meetings, therapy. I mostly learned not to blame myself,judge my children, set rules, be positive and mostly, this may sound selfish, but to take care of ME, mentally and physically. Eat, drink (fluids) and get some exercise. I learned that they will lie and steal and deceive me. My girls as I knew them, are gone, never to come back...new girls, stronger, sober girls have emerged. Addiction is a disease, like diabetes, always there, but under control. Give them respect, to summarize;
1. Take care of ME, if I'm ill, who will help the addict
2. Educate myself, what are my/their options
3. They MUST desire and put in the effort to become sober
4. Avoid blaming or guilt tripping the addict, it serves no purpose for anyone
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:12 AM
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My girls as I knew them, are gone, never to come back...new girls, stronger, sober girls have emerged. Addiction is a disease, like diabetes, always there, but under control.

Well said and very true. I am a breast cancer survivor, had a double mastectomy and 6 rounds of chemo, as well as about 6 other surgeries. The disease of cancer, and the treatments, have changed me forever. Some of my family & friends can not accept this fact, the change, and can't understand why I'm not just "back to normal" or back to the "old me". That person is forever gone and I , as well as everyone in my life, have had to adjust & essentially get to know the "new me". It's been over 3 years and the "getting to know the new me" process is still ongoing. Addiction is a disease like cancer is, and on overcoming a disease it CAN and WILL change a person. Even though I am in remission, declared "No Evidence of Disease" by my doctors, I still struggle, as do the loved ones in my life. Very similar to an addict in recovery - their loved ones, family & friends will also have to adjust to the "new person" and realize although they ARE different, the "new" person also has many positive traits and gifts.
Sorry to get a bit off topic, I just wanted to share my personal experience of how a potentially deadly disease, such as cancer AND such as addiction, changes a person.
-heather
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:55 AM
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Great builds, Twofish & Sookie. I fully agree that addiction is a disease but unlike cancer it is "self inflicted" - so there is a choice involved. It is "brain disease where over time free will (choice) is compromised". A addict then becomes a slave to the substance or activity (ie porn, gambling, sex or work).

Our family therapist says that the addiction of our loved one is a great learning opportunity for us to become a better person. Learning happen in a place of pain - both for us and for our loved ones. Its like the pain of (re)birth
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