As a mom, I never really understood that I could never understand the pain of the addict, of my son. I was so immersed in my own pain and the trauma of our family that I couldn’t see the other side, what my son must have been feeling.
A mother wrote to me: Things are better at the moment, but we have ups and downs. I am working on the “loving with detachment” issue. I spend hours each day trying to look at where I went wrong as a parent or what I should have done differently.
This excerpt is taken from a chapter of my memoir, The Los Angeles Diaries, which is dedicated to the memory of my sister and brother…My beautiful sister, in the beginning alcohol and drugs bring you relief. They give you courage and confidence and then slowly, over a period of years, they strip it all away and you spend your final years struggling to fill the emptiness that it’s left inside you…
The inspiration for “Overwhelmed” came to me in my second week of treatment. I was asked to create an autobiographical painting of my life at the time. I had two weeks sober, I hated life, I didn’t want to be sober, I didn’t want to be loaded.
What if, in addition to having a substance abuse problem, your son or daughter also has a mental illness such as bipolar disorder? Your child’s behavior is erratic, temper explosive, judgment impaired. It’s hard to know which roller coaster you’re riding. Is it drugs or manic depression?
When a teen becomes an addict, that person you once knew and planned a future for has effectively checked out. What you experience is an addict who will play you better than you can play them. After a period of time, your teen’s brain becomes progressively “hard-wired” to his or her drug of choice, to use a colloquial term.
One day I just became so weary and felt alone. I decided to go to an Al-Anon meeting at the suggestion of my counselor. I didn’t like the first meeting, but did go back later and something clicked. I now attend meetings when my schedule allows — usually once a week, along with counseling. These sources of support helped me let go of my expectations of my son and realize he has a disease. You wouldn’t ask someone with cancer to just stop having it.
Spending money on treatment has led to important health and public safety cost reductions in Washington. Reductions such as medical costs, state hospital expenses, likelihood of being arrested and likelihood of felony convictions.
Treated patients have been shown to reduce ER visits by 39%, hospital stays by 35% and total medical costs by 26%.
The Partnership is excited to introduce our first photo-blogger: artist and painter, Annie Preece. After spending more than half of her life battling addiction, she made the decision to ask for help and went to treatment. Since being in recovery her art has flourished.
I have been thinking a lot about the people whose lives are still completely consumed by the bad choices of their drug addicted loved ones. I’ve learned from my own experience that waiting for the drug addict to miraculously begin making good choices is hopeless. Until I became proactive and slowly began to change myself, things were always the same — full of drama.
As parents of an addict, living in the world of ought to be gives us permission to do things that hurt our addict and perpetuate their addiction. Living in the world of what is forces me to see the situation as it is and not the way I wish it to be.
Love is complicated enough without adding a addiction to the equation. If you’re struggling with a loved one who has a drug or alcohol problem, you’ve probably been told that you need to practice “tough love.” What does that mean? For me, it means letting go and trusting the process. I hope you can trust me when I tell you that “tough love” is the best gift you can give to an addict.