(This is a post by Lou @ brokenheartedmom.blogspot.com. Please visit her site to learn more about her family's (especially her son Andrew's) battle with addiction.)
My family, by outward appearances, is typical. We are middle class, two working biological parents, two grown children.
But our adult son is an opiate addict. We call it heroin addict, because after 10 years of hell, there is no longer any reason to make it sound more palpable. It's awful. It's a roller coaster of rehabs, hope, relapse, jail, parole, sobriety, detox, homelessness, 30 day chips, heartbreak and redemption.
If you see alcoholism or drug addiction as a moral failing, as someone else's problem, I won't change your mind. But probably you are reading this because you recognize it as a real parenting challenge. I don't spend time anymore trying to figure out what went wrong, or blaming the schools or drug policies or myself. Guilt, blame, and resentment won't put the addict or your family on a healing path.
I hate to give advice. I can only share what helped us. A wounded family needs to develop the faith and intuition to make the wrenching decisions about what is best for them and the addict . How to do that?
The simplistic answer, other than showing love and understanding (hard as hell some days), is that one person in the family has to change. This family disease cannot be cured; alcoholism and substance abuse are a life sentence. Unless at least one person in the family takes on the challenge of changing the family dynamics, years will be wasted and non abusing family members ignored.
Before you know it, life revolves around the addict. Chaos, bad surprises, despair, frustration, and physical illness become your normal. The joy, the rhythm of a free life is subjugated to applying all financial and emotional resources to fixing the substance abuser.
Our family began healing when I quit hiding, and began the long process of accepting reality. Through the program of Al-Anon (our addict is also an alcoholic), I first learned the"three C's"
I didn't cause it
I can't control it
I can't cure it
It took some time before I really believed that, but it was the cornerstone of new found hope.
If your family is hurting, please reach out for the hand of AlAnon.