The universal response of a parent who loses a child is “an attempt to put words to an inward experience which is ultimately beyond labels” (Kabat-Zinn, 264).
Addiction is often referred to as a ‘family disease,’ so seeing a child to succumb to addiction is not only indescribable but accompanied by a desperate drive to ‘rescue’ our child from a disease over which we have no control.
When a parent learns that their son or daughter is suffering from addiction, they have an overwhelming fear of losing that child. Most parents do not have the skill-set to reckon with the disease, so they try to manipulate, bargain with, and shelter their children from the consequences of their behavior. The result of this behavior is demoralizing, as children seem to spin out of control with no moral compass.
Willingness to Understand Addiction
The most dreaded possible outcome of addiction, death, is a parent’s driving force to justify whatever action they take on behalf of their child. But unless or until parents are willing to understand the progression of the disease, rather than react to it, they become victims along with their children.
Seeing a child suffer from addiction takes a toll on a parent’s self image. They may feel ashamed to talk about the problem with friends and feel paralyzed by helplessness. Fortunately, if parents are willing to learn how to best help their child–and to allow themselves to be helped in turn–change is possible.
Losing a Child to Addiction is Painful, but Losing Ourselves is a Choice
We can derail the course of addiction in our life and limit its consequences if we are willing to open up our minds and hearts. Our conscious choice to ‘let go’ of trying to control people, places and things (focusing, instead on our own journey and healing) has the potential to ripple throughout the entire family.
For many parents, a new chapter to the story can be found in Al-Anon meeting rooms within the community and throughout the world. It takes a little effort to find a meeting, the courage to show up, and a willingness to tap into an inner wisdom that knows “if we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.”
If your loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. Contact us anytime at (877) 977-3268.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever You Go, There You Are. Hyperion.