Updated: Sep 11, 2018
The One Thing Your Addicted Child Doesn’t Want You to Know
It can be heartbreaking to have a child in active addiction. You feel helpless, worried to your core, and very, very sad. You want them to change, but nothing you do seems to make any difference. You can’t understand why they can’t stop.
Addiction is a complex disease, and it’s not always easy to understand or relate to your addicted child. What you should know is addicts are master manipulators with a lot to hide. They have to be, because they want to continue using or drinking. They don’t know how to deal with life without drugs and alcohol.
There is one thing that no addict wants you to know. A truth they may not even acknowledge to themselves, but I’m going to let you in on it.
They Can’t Continue Their Addiction Without Help: No addict can continue their addiction without someone enabling them. Addiction does not happen in a vacuum. If your child is an addict, there is someone (perhaps multiple someones) who is financing their addiction, turning a blind eye to it, or bailing them out of trouble. If that person is you, the best thing you can do is to get help for yourself. Therapy, Al-anon, or codependency support groups are options if you want to find out how to help your child live rather than help your child die. Your child doesn’t want you to know this because once you stop enabling them, they will be forced to confront their problem.
How do you know whether you are helping or enabling? Quick check- helping an addict is doing something for them that they are unable to do themselves, enabling is doing something for them that they could and should be doing themselves. If they are an able-bodied adult, you should not be paying for rent, food, or otherwise giving them money. You shouldn’t be calling into work or school for them or making excuses for their bad behavior.
Many times, when the enablers in an addict’s life learn how to set clear, consistent boundaries, their addicted loved one will seek help. Many studies have shown that external motivating factors like family pressure, social pressure, meeting sentencing requirements, etc. may be as important as internal motivations (e.g., readiness to change) to reduce hazardous levels of alcohol and drug consumption. It gives lie to the old belief that an addict or alcoholic must want to change for themselves.
Many substance abusers become willing to change for themselves once they are in treatment.
The best thing you can often do to help your addicted child is to seek help yourself. If you or someone you know has an addicted child, call us now at