9 Tips for Moms With a Son or Daughter in Addiction

Valerie Silveira

9 Tips for Moms With a Son or Daughter in Addiction

9 Reminders for Moms Navigating Their Addiction

Never in a million years did we imagine we would live with this label – mom of an addict. Parenting is tough enough, but watching a son or daughter on a freight train headed toward a brick wall at the hands of addiction, is devastating.

The labels don’t help. Your son or daughter is far more than an “addict.” They are living with a vicious Beast, and so are you.

These nine points will give you some perspective to help navigate the distressing journey you are on. Allow at least one of them to motivate you to stand up and begin to take control of the one person you can, you.

You are not alone.

  1. Some things don’t make sense. Not only is there no manual for regular parenting, if there were one, the parents of addicts’ version would take a dump truck to deliver. You will never have all of the answers in the best of parenting, so remember with addiction as a part of the equation, you will have even fewer. Your son or daughter winding up addicted might make absolutely no sense. It sure didn’t make sense when my daughter Jamie found her way into that world. Many things in this life will leave us scratching our heads and agonizing over why, so start filing them in the Some things don’t Make Sense File, rather than torturing yourself by trying to figure it out.
  1. It’s not your fault. You have been attempting to make some sense of this tragic situation and cannot (see #1), so you conclude that it must somehow be your fault. I used to go through the list of my decisions or words trying to pinpoint, which were responsible for my daughter’s addiction. One day, Jamie helped me to let myself off of the hook, when she said, “Mom, this isn’t your fault. It’s not about you.” It’s time to give yourself a break. Unless you held your son or daughter down and forced drugs into them, it is not your fault.
  1. You don’t have control. Even if you manage to start believing this is not your fault, you may still think it is your responsibility to fix it. There is no correlation between the amount of love you have for your son or daughter and your ability to rescue them. With each passing year, you lost more and more control. As grownups, we barely have control over our own lives, let alone over another adult, especially one controlled by the addiction beast. You can stand with them when they are choosing life, but you have next to zero ability to save your son or daughter. If you did, you would have done it long ago. 
  1. There is no easy way through this. You are likely looking for answers. It is important to seek wise counsel and to gain perspective from people who have walked a similar road. It is also okay to acknowledge that there is no easy way through this minefield, and nobody has all of the answers.
  1. You are responsible for your happiness. Of course, you would be happier if your son or daughter were free and healthy. But, the fact is that they are not responsible for your happiness – you are. During most of the years of Jamie’s addiction, I guilt-tripped her. If only she would get clean, then I could be happy again. The truth is that she was never responsible for my happiness, and my trying to make it so, only made her battle harder. Remove the responsibly for your happiness from your child’s shoulders, or anyone else for that matter.
  1. Self-destruction is not an option. Parents, especially moms, feel the pain their children experience. That is natural and normal. The ongoing grief you experience as the parent of an addict is far from normal. The years of codependency, enabling, and heartbreak send many of us into self-destruct mode, compounding the issue. The best thing you can do for everyone involved in this nightmare is to take care of #1 – that is you. If you fall apart, things are going to get a lot worse. Self-destruction should never be an option.
  1. Be mindful of your other relationships. We become hyper-focused on the child who is crashing. It makes sense, but unfortunately, it comes at the expense of our other relationships. When the dust settles, you might find some people gone for good. With others, it will be a long road back. Understandably, that we run to retrieve the lost child, but we have to fight to maintain balance with the other people who matter. 
  1. There is always hope. As long as your son or daughter is alive, there is hope. You never know when a moment of clarity will send them in a new direction. Miracles still happen. Keep praying. Believe in the possibility of opportunities and people crossing your child’s path that you cannot see, or may never realize. Never lose hope.
  1. You are stronger than you think. Consider the very first time you knew something was wrong in your daughter or son’s life. It probably seemed as if nothing could be worse. Jamie was arrested for shoplifting when she was fifteen, just a week after attending bible camp. My world came crashing down that day. It wouldn’t be long before I wished shoplifting was my biggest concern. With each passing day, you can build courage and stamina. No matter what the future holds, trust me – you are stronger than you think. You always have the choice to fall to the mat in fear or to stand up and fight. Choose to fight.

You are not alone!

You are not alone. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance abuse disorder in 2017.

There are millions of other parents walking the road that seems so lonely. Millions of other parents need you to be a shining example of courage and hope.

I am standing with you.

Hope

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