When most of us think of parenting we think of instruction, direction, financial aid and protection from a variety of consequences.
It shouldn’t surprise any of us, then, to find out that parenting an active addict is definitely “contrary to the norm.”
Addiction is not a condition brought on by a lack of ethics, morals and character. Rather, the degeneration of these fine qualities is what happens once addiction, including physical dependence and withdrawal, sets in.
As parents, we all want to “fix” bad situations and help consequences be avoided for our offspring, but in the case of addiction, this is exactly the wrong thing to do.
As the need for a substance becomes physical and painful more and more decisions are made by the addict that contradict the ethics and character they displayed before dependence. The center of their life becomes pursuit and use of their chosen substance.
What can we, as friends and parents, do?
If your gut is telling you there is something wrong, believe it. Don’t stay quiet, speak up.
Make it clear that you love the person in front of you, but you won’t support lying, stealing or other negative behavior. The addict will not be happy with you: They will manipulate and tug at your heartstrings to get what they want, be it food, shelter or money.
Guilt is the most common tool used by a desperate addict, so be prepared for it.
Offer firm and caring support. This would sound like, “I won’t give you cash, but I will go with you if you are willing to seek help,” and “You cannot stay in our home tonight, but I will drive you to professionals who can help you.”
Don’t try to do the above alone. The parental bond is purposely strong, and you may give in.
Seek professional assistance, and listed to the professionals. They deal with this sort of behavior on a regular basis and they will help you be strong and set limits when the addict’s manipulation is at it’s worst.
Be willing to be scared if it means getting your loved one off the streets and to a place where they can safely recover.
Act now. The substances now being mixed with street drugs are exceptionally deadly. Waiting could mean death or permanent injury to your loved one.
Parenting an addict is a skill none of us have ever wanted to learn. But for the safety of your loved one, and your sanity and peace of mind, it is a skill that is indispensable.
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