As a parent, you never really stop worrying about your child. In your eyes they will always be your baby. As a parent of a child who is struggling with addiction, your worries are only amplified. You never know where they are, what they could be doing, and who they are doing it with. And worse yet, you are helplessly watching them struggle with their addiction. What can you do and how can you help?
It can be difficult to know the best way to help the people we love when they are struggling with addiction. So, we turned to some of our alumni* to ask how their loved ones were most supportive during their addiction recovery and they had some great advice we thought we’d share.
1. Read About Addiction and Recovery
What do you do when you don’t know how to do something? You probably Google it, right? You enter a few search terms and find some good information about the topic you are interested in. Or you can kick it old school and read some books (here are a couple of our favorite books about addiction and recovery). Either way, knowledge is power. Get your hands on some books and articles that will help you understand what steps to take.
“Doing their own research and education on their own helped me a lot. Reading books and understanding the disease concept as a whole.”
– Kayleb, TDH Alumni, 1.5 years clean
2. Get Yourself to an Al-Anon Meeting
Al-Anon is a great resource for family members of addicts. You will meet tons of other parents and family members who have been struggling with the same things you have.
The first time you go to an Al-Anon meeting, you might feel overwhelmed, anxious, or even scared. The good thing about the first time, though, is that there is only one. After that it does get easier.
“Al-Anon is a great source of support and information. Learn to detach with love!!!”
– Sarah, TDH Alumni, 2 years sober
3. Stop Enabling Their Drug or Alcohol Addiction
The line between being a “good parent” versus enabling is often blurred when it comes to addiction. How can you help your loved one without further enabling them? There is actually a lot you can do and when you go to Al-Anon or participate in family therapy you will learn about all of them. However, some of the most effective ways to quit enabling is to stop giving them money to support their addiction and don’t make excuses about your loved one’s behavior. It might also help to explain to your loved one why you are no longer going to do these things.
“Sometimes being supportive looks harsh but this disease is harsh! Talking to counselors about how to set healthy boundaries is a must.”
– Dillon, TDH Alumni, 1 year clean
4. Support Your Loved One’s Addiction Recovery
Over time, the dynamics of a family can change drastically to accommodate the addict, and this dysfunction must be addressed before the family can heal. help everyone involved learn how to maintain healthy relationships and how to heal each member. Family therapy mends the family and teaches loved ones how to be the source of encouragement that someone recovering from an addiction needs. It also helps family members to realize they are dealing with a condition that they didn’t cause and they can’t cure. If your loved one’s treatment center offers a family program, take advantage.
“My parents really found it useful going to the facility and speaking with the counselors and staff. They were able to get a better understanding of the disease of addiction. Which in turn helped them better understand where I was coming from and how they could best help me. Also the seminars the facility would do for family on Sundays helped.”
– Chelsea, TDH Alumni, 3.5 years sober
5. Sometimes Honesty is the Best Policy
Be cool, calm, and collected when you approach the subject of their addiction and be honest. Let them know that you love them but you can no longer support or enable their drug or alcohol problem. Of course saying this and actually following through are two very different things so try your best to stick to it.
This policy of honesty is essential through every single stage of recovery. Keep it up throughout the process and you will only see positive results.
“My daughter came and told me the truth about how she really felt. I love my daughter and every thing she told me was the truth. I’m working on being a father today. She’s turning 34 years old tomorrow.”
– Denny, TDH Alumni, 1 year sober