How Could This Have Happened?
How can the parent of an addict not be weighed down by guilt? Parents who find out their children are addicted face endless self-recrimination and shame. A parent’s overarching imperative is to keep a child safe. Parents of addicts face the stark reality that their children have traveled to a hideous universe and are ticking time bombs who might die at any moment. And there is not a whole lot a parent can do about it.
Guilt and shame isolate you from your friends and family. The world is afraid of addicts and the mayhem that surround them. You feel like a pariah. That is until you attend your first Al Anon meeting. There you will find understanding and support. The guilt you feel is shared and diffused by the knowledge that you’d done the best you could and your children’s addiction was much more complex than any parenting mistakes you made.
The Hardest Choice I Made
And you are not completely powerless. You do have one option you can exercise, if you will. It is the only alternative for parents of addicts and it is by no means a sure thing, but it often works. You can refuse to enable your addict and you can do everything in your power to steer them towards good, effective treatment. Some addicts seek out treatment on their own. But a very large number need to be pushed towards it by family members who refuse to play a role in their continued addiction. This is one of the hardest choices a parent will ever make. But my son needed my husband and I to draw a line and say, “Get help or you are absolutely and totally on your own.” We wrestled with that decision and eventually came to see it was his and our only hope of changing his trajectory. And that is one choice I will never feel guilty about.
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