We are constantly told not to isolate. I’m here to tell you its okay to be alone, for a while. This pain is what I call our ‘deepest soul’s anguish’. We must be allowed to grieve in private. It’s when the isolation becomes out of balance that we run into dangerous territory.
A big issue for me has been the guilt I feel as I move on without my daughter. How do you have fun or enjoy anything when someone you love is lost in their disease? Figuratively speaking, I keep the porch light on. I let her know we love her, we are here if and when she wants to seek help. We will do what we can but the reality is that she has to make her journey in her own time and I have to make mine in my own time. I choose now.
And it sure isn’t easy for parents and caregivers who are full of concern about a child’s drug or alcohol problem or addiction. As Annette points out, these feelings are numerous and intense: fear, anger, guilt, panic, sadness, confusion, disbelief and more.
When my daughter was spinning out of control from her addiction, there were difficult decisions to be made. One of the most frustrating things was seeking treatment options for her. I spent a lot of time, effort, and money on programs that did not work — before finding a successful solution.
When you find out that your teen has been using drugs and alcohol, it’s time to accept the new reality and act sooner rather than later. Intervening to help get your child back on track is not an easy solution. Your kid may kick and scream and protest and shut down, but chances are it will help, as it did in my case. If you aren’t getting through to your child, enlist the help of an interventionist or counselor.
It has been four years now of actively working a program of recovery in Alanon. My daughter has been in treatment twice during that time. She has a foundation of recovery that she can turn to if she ever decides she wants to commit herself to living a clean and sober life. She knows what to do and where to go to find the tools that she will need. However, she has to be the one to choose to pick them up each day.
As a teenager, I vowed to never drink the way my dad did. Little did I know that I had a genetic predisposition to become an alcoholic and an addict just like he was — and it wasn’t too long before I found myself fighting my own battle with a drug addiction.
When I felt the walls of denial I had been building up to protect me begin to crumble, I felt the sting of reality. Yes, coming out of denial was painful, but it felt good, too. I was finally walking toward the truth, which was the only path to recovery. My willingness to take action was the first step in getting my children the help they needed.
There are many treatment centers out there – some may work, some may not. Do your own research, visit treatment centers and find the one that will help your family and loved one with his/her specific needs. Look for an atmosphere that offers the physical and emotional needs of the patient as well as the spiritual building blocks that will help him or her through a life of recovery.
People with addictions no longer have to feel helpless and hopeless. There is hope, new hope that stems from a new scientific understanding of the nature of addiction plus novel medicines that finally allow us to control cravings and fix the physical damage to the brain caused by addiction.
This week I’d like to explain how our family received the message that my stepdaughter Katherine was ready to receive treatment — and the process we went through to find a treatment center that worked for all of us.
Though it is important not to rush into labeling a difficult teenager, not to rush into medication as the answer, parents are wise to become informed about symptoms and seek counsel with highly qualified professionals who can keep an eye on what’s going on, especially if there is some family history of depression or manic behavior.
My stepdaughter Katherine was living on the streets with her “meth family.” We were in a panic, wondering where she was, where she was sleeping, if she was eating, if she was alive — or if we were about to receive the dreaded call every parent fears.
When you suspect your child is in trouble, one of the most difficult challenges is figuring out how to approach him or her. Beyond dealing with their particular substance abuse, the big question is how to get them engaged and encouraged to accept treatment.
He last used thirty minutes ago. Morphine. He prefers not to mention his pharmaceutical source. He’s been using since maybe he was thirteen: LSD, marijuana. Lots of LSD. Heroin? Off and on since he was in his late twenties. He’s dual diagnosis. Bipolar disorder. Onset probably about thirteen.