One of the most challenging things a parent could go through is watching their child battle addiction. What was once an innocent child is now an addict fighting a tough disease. No matter the age of your child, a parent can feel alone and not know where to turn. What can you, as a parent, do to help while keeping the household running and your own life in balance?
Seek Outside Help
Just like an addict is more successful combating the disease with the aid of professionals, parents and loved ones can significantly benefit from participating in support groups and family therapy sessions. Programs like Al-Anon provide a safe, nonjudgmental space for families to learn, discuss and overcome addiction within their family. A survey focused on families battling addiction found the following benefits of attending support and therapy groups:
• Improved quality of life
• Stress levels reduced
• Fewer problems with the addict
• Psychological health improvement
Educate Yourself on the Science of Addiction
Education about addiction can help families escape and avoid the ugly blame game. Rather than believing the addict’s actions stem from weakness, willfulness or stubbornness, the science of addiction explains how changes in brain chemistry and electrical impulse influence actions. Family members must view addiction as a disease before they’re able to let go of the other emotions they’ve been harboring and forgive that family member.
Create Family Time
It’s important to set time aside to do things as a family—outside of family therapy and support groups. Go to the movies, head out of town for a weekend getaway or do something as simple as planning a family dinner. If your child lives outside of your home, set time aside each week to catch up either in person or over the phone. With the modern world as chaotic as it is, it’s easy to get lost in all the noise. Setting time aside regularly where you can reflect, converse and spend time with loved ones will improve relationships and everyone’s mood. Even designating one meal a week as “family time” can help.
Live Your Life
It can be easy to let the addiction of others take over your life. It’s difficult to take personal time when a family member is struggling. You must take care of yourself before you can take care of your family. Make time for hobbies, i.e., cooking, crafting, gardening. Your happiness can have a direct impact on everyone’s mood.
When an addict enters rehab, and the family participates in either family therapy or a support group, everyone’s feeling of hope can be overwhelming. It’s a sense of relief that the addiction is finally being addressed. However, addiction is a disease and must be treated as such. Diseases are not cured overnight and require time and patience. Keep you and your family’s expectations in check to avoid disappointments, fights and relapse.
When trying to help someone who is addicted—especially a loved one—experiencing internal struggle is common. It’s important to stand your ground and remain firm on boundaries that have been set. Understanding the difference between helping vs. enabling is critical.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, let The Walker Center help. Drug and addiction treatment is the answer. The Walker Center is the place.