Parenting an Addict; Hardly a Dream

As prospective parents we look forward with great joy and anticipation as we start our journey to parenthood. Even before the actual arrival of our child we are already thinking how we can be the best parents possible, provide all the essentials needed for a loving caring nurturing environment. As parents we don’t mind sacrificing so that our children can have all they need plus. We are gratified to see our children grow and develop and achieve their highest potentials so that life for them will be better for them that it has been for us. I guess you could say parents our very co-dependent on their children. When they are happy we are happy and when they are sad we are sad. We feel their joy and feel their pain.

Then a day comes in your life when joys and dreams of good things for your child come to a screeching halt. The day we find out that our child is “doing drugs.” It may be pot, cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs or alcohol or a combination of drugs, but regardless fear, anxiety takes over our bodies and minds. We try to find out all the circumstances surrounding what we have just found out. The extent of the abuse, what drugs, with who and whom are they getting these drugs from. The next step is to determine what kind of help we can offer our child. And as I went through this process anger and resentment and frustration entered into my life. As time progresses and the child we brought into this world so that they could enjoy success and happiness falls into a hole of drug use, deception and a life that most could not relate to or understand. Of course we send them to treatment, the best money can buy. But relapse after relapse fear and dismay heightens because as parents we do no see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then as a father the worst emotion of all surfaces, helplessness. After all I am a father and is it not my responsibility to make all right in the world for my family? With helplessness comes the next and final emotion as a father, failure. The acknowledgement that I cannot fix this problem for my child. That in the final analyses only the individual affected by this insidious disease can start and continue their own recovery. This acknowledgment took me many years to come to terms with. After much soul searching I came to the conclusion that I am only a parent. I can do only the best I can do. I also spent much time looking to blame someone for my child’s despair.

The disease of addiction affects the entire family tree, parents grandparents, other relatives and friends. Finally I came to the realization that addiction is truly a family disease for many reasons. As time marches on for many so does the disease of addiction gaining momentum in the most negative ways. Spiraling behaviors as a result of drug addiction bring other issues into the equation. Legal issues, family trust issues, resentment and family members dealing with their own psychological and physical fatigue of trying to keep up with all the negative behaviors of the addicted love one as their addiction spirals deeper and deeper.

I remember reading a book on the issue of kids and drugs many years ago when I discovered my child was involved in drugs. The title of the book is “Not My Kid.” I would suggest it be recommended reading for any family that first finds out that their child is abusing drugs. As parents we almost always retain hope that such a precious life we brought into this world will finally break away from the grasp of such a terrible disease. That the frown on the face of our child will turn to a smile and that they will achieve all the good things in life we planned for them before they ever entered this world.

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