Top 5 Mistakes Parents Make in the Addiction Recovery Process
When facing addiction within the family, parents sometimes make grave mistakes – despite their best intentions. It can be very difficult to make the right moves and decisions that will help the addict but not enable their addictions. Here is a list of the top 5 mistakes that parents make in dealing with an addicted son/daughter.
1. Enabling them to remain addicted.
Over the past 10 years, my message to parents of the addicted has been the same; “Never make it easy for your son/daughter to remain addicted.” This means different things for different families. I have counseled parents at their “wits end” with an addicted son or daughter, only to find out that they are still paying for their car, cell phone, credit card, housing and spending money. If there is not a practical reason to change your course of living then why would you change? We as people have a natural and direct response to pain that has been instilled in us since birth. When we feel pain, we naturally respond by looking at the place that hurts and we begin to seek healing. However if we never feel the pains in our life, then there is not a reason to seek healing. If we truly want the person to be healed from their addiction, we must step aside and allow them to feel the pain that addiction causes.
2. Allowing the addict to choose their course for recovery.
Many times I have witnessed parents who will discover that their son or daughter has been struggling with addiction and they make the mistake of allowing the addict to choose his or her own method for recovery – instead of trusting the advice from a professional. This is a problem because the addicted person usually will pick the most un-intrusive program available. While outpatient programs are effective and serve an important purpose, they are not always the best place to start the road to recovery. We at Vertava Health of Tennessee offer a comprehensive approach to recovery that walks people into lasting recovery at a pace that has proven successful for years. We start with an assessment of the person followed by treatment of the addiction and then a transitional living program where the addict can ease back into their life.
Addiction can be compared to breaking both legs. If you break both legs, the first thing the doctor will do is reset the bones and then place them in a cast. The cast serves the purpose of restricting movement so that the healing process can begin. The same thing needs to happen in the first stages of recovery, we need to have a time of restriction and solitude in order to start the healing process.
After the bones have had a chance to heal and the doctor removes the cast, you would not want to run a marathon the same day. You would want to ease back into full movement and use of your legs. This is also true with addiction recovery. After treatment, we need a season of transition where we ease back into the pressures and stresses of life. Because let’s face it, we have used drugs or alcohol to assist us with stress and help us cope with the pressures of life and if we hope to live in freedom from addiction, we need to ease back into life with accountability and support from a program.
3. Listening to the noise!
Another mistake made by parents is listening to “the noise”. The noise is all of the kicking, screaming, denial and blaming that addicts do when confronted with the reality of their addiction. We must understand that the disease of addiction does not want to be defeated, and if the addiction senses that it is about to be uprooted and disposed of, it will begin fighting back! It is always hard for parents to block out this “noise” because they truly love their son or daughter. However, this is why it is paramount that parents seek the advice of a trained professional to help them distinguish between the “noise” and the true cries for help.
4. Punishing the addiction.
With some parents, they become so frustrated and angry that they begin to punish their loved one struggle with addiction for their actions instead of helping them find treatment for their addictions. I know that its difficult, however we must see addiction as a (treatable) disease and not just a behavioral problem. You see when we see addiction as a disease, it changes the way we respond to the symptoms. If someone in our family had diabetes and began to get dizzy due to a low blood sugar, we wouldn’t get angry or punish them. We would simply see to it that they receive the help they so desperately needed. As a Christian recovery center, Spring to Life sees addiction as a disease that affects the mind, body and soul of a person and when treated they can be set free once and for all!
5. Not acting on familiar behaviors.
Another big mistake made by parents is failing to act when they sense or recognize the symptoms of the addiction in their son/daughter. At Spring to Life, we believe that God has given every parent intuition that will help them to discern when something is just “not right” within their family. Anytime we (as parents) sense or feel that something is not right in our family, we should take immediate action by seeking the advice from professionals. This move can be difficult because of the “noise” that addicts make when confronted. Anytime you sense the familiar behaviors, parents should treat this like a “check engine” light in your car and seek help fast!