Adjusting to Recovery: When Your Addicted Child Begins to Get Well

What happens when what you have hoped and prayed for finally takes place? After months or years of living in fear for the very life of your child, she decides either on her own or ordered by the courts, to get treatment. Or she begins to attend meetings regularly to pursue recovery and living a healthy life in whatever form that works for her?

Where does that leave you? The mom or the dad who has laid awake at night wondering how on earth you can help your child.  Wondering if she is alive? Wondering if she is using drugs right at that very moment, is she safe, warm enough, hungry, is anyone hurting her or taking advantage of her?  Now what is your role as the parent?

I will tell you that I, as a mother, still worry. Is she going to enough meetings? Is she really even at her meetings?  Is she being honest? Is she really working her program? Each time she left the house I was in so much fear I was literally sick.

I thought that when she got treatment our problems would be solved.  Little did I know that we were just beginning the most intense journey of our lives.  Treatment and recovery is where the rubber met the road for our family.  It’s where the real work began for all of us – the whole family.  There are no quick fixes.

It was during those times when my daughter Hallah was in treatment that I realized how enmeshed I had become and that to save my own sanity I had to begin making my own healthy choices. I had to set my child free from being the key to my happiness. Whether she was sober or not, I needed to continue on and be a happy, functioning part of my world.

The most striking lesson I learned along the way was that my fear was crippling her. I was inadvertently sending a message that I thought she was incapable of doing anything other than what she had been doing. I was afraid to see her fail, but I was even more afraid to see her stay in the life she was living. When I finally recognized this dynamic and chose to let her pursue recovery in whatever way she wanted, I was giving her the dignity to be true to herself.  The timetable for her journey was between her, her sponsor and her Higher Power.

As shocking as it was to me, I was not an intrinsic part of her recovery.  If anything my hovering, my constant questioning, my fear were hindering her recovery. My love, support and my quiet presence were important to her spirit. This was a whole new concept to me. Just because I had a thought or an opinion didn’t mean I needed to share it with her.  I began saying things like, “I am sure you will figure this out.” and “Hmmm, why don’t you think on that for awhile.” and “What do you know to be true?”

I began to nurture my own faith that something bigger than my maternal love was going to hold her together.  It was up to her to respond to recovery…or not.  No one else could do it for her. I had to step back and let her go. Let her walk her own journey.  I let her stumble and fall and even relapse at times because this was her walk to walk. I began to view the rough spots in her journey as opportunities for growth and learning.  I know that each time she worked her way through an obstacle she would feel stronger and more sure of her abilities.

I will admit that I could not have made these changes without the help, support and wisdom that I found at my local Alanon meetings. I am indebted to my sponsor who allowed me to call her anytime, especially when my fears were overtaking my rational mind.  My sponsor would listen for as long as it took and then she would direct me back to who ultimately is in charge – my Higher Power.   My sponsor helped me get my focus back all while allowing me the dignity to be wherever I was at. I learned a lot from her example.

In my opinion, a support network of people with whom you can be open and honest is crucial to every family’s drug addiction recovery.  We can’t make it alone.