A Letter to the Mother Whose Child is Struggling with Addiction (from Someone in Recovery)
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but that doesn’t mean I cannot understand the pain you must be going through watching your child struggle with addiction. As someone who has gone through addiction firsthand, I can testify to the amount of pain that I put my parents through because of the wrong choices I made in life. I didn’t mean to hurt them, but that was something that just tended to happen when I was drinking too much.
I put my parents through some pretty difficult times, and if you have a loved one struggling with addiction, I am sure you can relate. As a mother, there is no more significant pain than to see your child suffer. When a loved one has an addiction, this can be one of the most challenging things that their family can endure—watching this happen. While there may be days when you feel like you have had enough and don’t know if you can it take any longer, I would hope that knowing there are people who make it to the other side can help you feel better.
As someone who has struggled with addiction firsthand and then worked at a treatment center, I have developed some insight into this issue. If I were able to write a letter to my mother when I was going through the thick of it, this is what I would have told her; I hope that this might help you.
Don’t give up hope.
While this is indeed easier said than done, perhaps one of the most important things a mother can do for her child struggling with addiction is not giving up hope. Now, this is not to say that you will feel great every day and that there won’t be days where you feel like things won’t change. But I recommend that you hold onto the hope that your child will get better for as long as you can. While it may seem like you will never have your child back, there is still hope that things will get better. So hang onto this hope and allow it to carry you through the difficult days.
Reach out for help.
Another essential thing to do when a loved one is struggling with addiction is to reach out for help. Call an addiction professional and figure out the best course of action to help your child get sober. Your child may not be willing to seek treatment yet, but don’t let that stop you from learning what to do. It is also beneficial to know the process of getting a loved one help so that when they are willing to change, you can get the process moving as quickly as possible. There are people out there who dedicate their entire careers to helping others overcome addiction. Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers because there are people out there who can give you plenty.
Help but don’t enable.
There is a big difference between helping someone get better and enabling them to stay the same. When it comes to addiction, enabling can be deadly. Too many people enable their loved ones because they think they are helping them. Never give your child money or make it easier for them to get drugs while they are in active addiction. On the other hand, if they are willing to get help and are ready to change, then by all means, please help them to do so.
Establish healthy boundaries.
When you have a loved one struggling with addiction, you must establish healthy boundaries with that person to protect yourself. Decide what types of behavior you will and will not allow in your life, and then stick to those decisions. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to put up with toxic behavior. If you are unsure where to start when it comes to establishing boundaries with a loved one, there are plenty of professional resources that can help you learn.
Do what you can but also let go.
There is only so much you can do as a parent when it comes to your children. One of the best things you can do for your sanity is to focus on the things you can control and try to let go of the rest. Please do what you can to help your child get better while understanding that he or she will ultimately be the one making his or her own decisions. The sooner you can learn and implement this into your own life, the better off you both will be.
If needed, do an intervention.
If you need to do an intervention, then my suggestion would be to go ahead and do one as soon as possible. There are plenty of professional resources available that will walk you through the process and help get your loved one into treatment. It may not be a fun experience, but if it can get your child into treatment, it will be well worth any discomfort it may cause. Speaking from personal experience, an intervention from my family pushed me to get the help I needed.
Find your support system.
You must find a support system for yourself while you are going through this time. Sure, you may not be the one dealing with addiction firsthand, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t hurting you. Addiction takes a significant toll on everyone connected to it, so there is nothing wrong with getting help for yourself while your loved one is struggling. You may not change your child’s behavior, but you can change how much it affects you.
Know that you are not the only one.
While you may feel completely alone right now, know that you are not the only one dealing with this issue. And know that just because you are dealing with a child’s addiction doesn’t mean you are a terrible person or a failure. We all do our best to raise our kids, but they will make their own decisions at the end of the day. Don’t let the negativity and judgment from others bring you down or make you feel worse about the situation.
Research and learn as much as you can.
One of the best things you can do is read up on addiction and recovery and learn as much as possible. The more you know and understand addiction, the easier it will be to understand what is going on. When you do this, you will be better able to help your child. Learning about addiction can make things feel a little more manageable, and it is one thing you can do to feel more proactive about the situation you are currently facing.
Understand that recovery is possible.
It may not feel like it now but know that recovery is possible. Hang onto the hope that your child can get better. I know things are tough right now, but there is a possibility that they will get better. As moms, we fight for our kids even when no one else will. Don’t give up fighting for yours. I know times are tough right now, but please hang in there, Mama.
Someone in recovery