Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Is Your Child Addicted? Here’s what you can do about it.
I wonder how many parents out there – feel like they’re living a nightmare. Their once peaceful homes are now battlegrounds. Addiction in the family, changes you – and not for the good. You might feel like you’re drowning, in worry. Your marriage may be on the rocks. You might be on the verge of bankruptcy. You’re still functioning, but just. People might not know you’re struggling, by looking at you. You suffer in silence, screaming on the inside, while smiling, outwardly. Your pain is private. Like menstrual cramps. Your agony is the relentless, all consuming and personal, kind.
I imagine those who have lost a loved one, know this pain, all too well.
You may even be one of the lucky ones. Perhaps your loved one is alive – sort of. Their heart still beats, but you’ve died a thousand deaths since they first picked up. It must have been agonizing to watch, over the years.
You may have thought it was just ‘normal’ teenage behaviour, at first. But when he/she didn’t come home at night, you realized there might be a problem. Don’t you wish you could go back to then? To the beginning, before your child turned into someone, you don’t even know.
It wasn’t very long ago you were changing diapers, and holding their hand.
You – were their whole world.
You were wonder woman and superman, and ‘the best Mom’ ever.
You were the – under the bed monster checker – their goodnight kiss – their giggle partner – handholding – tear-wiping – scraped knee, kissing – fixer, upper.
But there is nothing left of the child, they once were.
The addicted young person standing before you does not resemble your child, at all.
Perhaps you’ve wondered if it was anything you did, or didn’t, do. Were you the reason he/she put that first joint to their lips? Was his father? Maybe it was the teacher in grade three? Were they bullied? Weren’t they loved enough? Perhaps it was their friends fault, especially the one with the shifty eyes.
There are times you fight the urge to beat on your child and scream ‘wake up!’ You’d like to shake them. But you don’t. You know all you’d be doing is giving them another reason to use. Their addiction takes every word and circumstance and turns it around, to be used against you. It moves your child’s lips and has taken over their thoughts. It’s stolen their morals and values. It even moves their body – up and down, up and down, legs jerk, tapping out an impossible SOS – flailing, twitching, nodding and mumbling incoherent sentences, until you’re left hanging, barely, holding on.
Their addiction is greedy. It wants your sanity. You can feel it. Truth is, you’ve been teetering on the edge for some time now. Seeing the devastation their addiction has reaped makes your heart ache. Their addiction is infectious. You feel sick with it, too.
You stand at a fork in the road.
One path must surely lead to their death. You cannot keep covering up and making excuses, for them.
The other path is unknown. It requires you to look at the role you play. You will need to learn to set boundaries and to talk about your feelings. Otherwise, you’ll continue to enable out of guilt and fear.
You must take a vow. Addiction will not continue to call the shots, nor will it take you, with it. It has your child, for now. But you will fight back. You’re going to do and learn everything you can, to fight this thing.
I’ve been told faith is greater than fear.
Make faith, your new superman.
You will buy in and believe, because honestly, there are no better choices. You’ll invite people into your world who have gone through this, before you. They will lead you down this strange and new, scary road.
You’ll share your experiences and become sponge-like, lapping up every morsel of information, you can get your hands on. You’ll do whatever is asked of you – because when and if your child ever chooses recovery, you’d expect no less, from them.
You will promise, to no longer live, in the shadows, of addiction.
Looking back, you see addiction thrives in secrecy, darkness and pain. You take away its power, when you expose it to the light. Addiction is like a mushroom. It can only exist in sh*t. Take away all the crap and it has nothing to grow in. You learn you’ve been going about this all wrong. Instead of keeping it secret, maybe you should have shouted it to the world. But looking back is really only good, for one thing. We learn in hindsight what not to do, in the here and now. Sometimes you just need to take the lesson and move on. Not living in how it used to be, but how it is, right now.
You can’t love them well. God knows, you’ve tried. But you’ve learned, a lot.
From here on, you won’t manage your pain, by trying to control, their addiction. Instead, you’ll harvest the years of guilt, fear and sleepless nights, and embrace your emotions – the way you long to take your child into your arms.
You will not run, nor hide.
You will stand and deal.
You will pray for strength to cope, with what comes before you.
And you will do the one thing – addiction hates.
You will reach out, and ask for help.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1 888 614-2379.