Addiction is particularly stressful for parents, so know that you are not alone. There is a saying spoken on flights that cautions you to put your oxygen mask on first, before you help someone else. Emotions can be overwhelming, so take time to help yourself feel better first.
To help you handle your emotions, start with a foundation of self-care. Be sure you are eating well, exercising, getting as much sleep as possible and doing your best to keep your worry in perspective. When you are feeling physically and emotionally strong, you will have a better chance of helping your son change.
While many parents do feel sadness as well as other stressful emotions, it is best not to allow them to overtake you and spill over into conversations with your child. Some things that can help are anticipating your feelings ahead of time and labeling how you’re feeling, so you are clear-headed before speaking with your child. If you feel overwhelmed with worry and sadness, take a short break and do things to help yourself feel better. Worrying often leads to negative self-talk about things that most likely will not happen in the future, so it is not helpful.
Some things that do help reduce worry are meditation, or simply sitting quietly for a few minutes each day. Writing down your feelings, even for just a few days, has also been shown to help a person feel better. Putting your energy towards educating yourself about addiction and how you can help your son will lead you to having him make positive changes in his life.
Watching a child struggle with substance use is one of life’s biggest challenges. Trust that you can help your son. Remember that you don’t have to face this alone.
Want to connect with another parent who's been there?
Pat is one of our volunteer Parent Coaches. Like all of our coaches, she knows first-hand the challenges of helping a child with addiction. In addition to their own experiences, all parent coaches receive extensive and on-going training.