Alanon Helped Me Deal with My Addicted Child

I have a daughter. She is the second of our four children and she is beautiful. I can remember back 21 years ago to the day of her arrival onto this earth, into our family, and it is one of my most precious memories. Her birth was fun, filled with joy and we were surrounded by people who love us. As the doctor guided her out into this world and held her slick shiny body up for me to see, I felt such happiness, such pure unadulterated joy that I had been given a girl child.

At 12 years old that same beautiful girl child took her first drink of alcohol. Little did she know that she had opened a door to years of drama and turmoil, years of ruined relationships, loneliness, and feelings of defeat. Years of being in pain. By the time she was 14 that beautiful girl child of mine had become a black-out drinking drug user.

We rationalized that she was experimenting. Lots of kids go through wild phases, but deep inside I think we knew that this was more than that. We were afraid and ashamed and in denial…not a good combination. We worked so hard at controlling and managing what had so obviously already spun out of our grasp. We didn’t want anyone to know the depths of our fear. We hoped and prayed it would pass. But it didn’t.

We sought counseling and thankfully we were directed to Alanon Family Groups. Alanon is a 12 step program for the families and friends of alcoholics and/or addicts. Little did I know I was about to be given a road map that would lead me back to sanity. Because I had most certainly resorted to crazy behavior all in the name of saving my daughter.

I went to my first meeting when my girl was 16 years old and I cried through the whole meeting. I thought they might ask me to go outside, I was mortified, but I couldn’t stop. The dam had broken open. In that meeting I was hearing my story from so many other kindred souls. Instead those present looked at me with kindness and told me that they understood. They told me to keep coming back. To try at least six meetings before making the decision if Alanon was right for me or not.

I  am a good rule follower so I did what they told me…I kept coming back. I listened and I began to read their material and I set my fear aside and admitted that my daughter has a problem. That her life, that our lives, had become unmanageable due to addiction and I was powerless to fix it.

In those early meetings I heard about the “3 C’s”. I didn’t “cause” my daughter‘s addiction, I can’t “control” it, and I can’t “cure” it….but I can “contribute” to it by enabling and cushioning the natural consequences of my daughter‘s actions. I was encouraged to “let go.” I had a death grip on the idea that I could make this better. Nothing I had done thus far had worked, but I kept thinking if I can just find the key, if I read the right books, if I use the right tone of voice, if I put all of the pieces of her life together just so….this will stop. It will go away and I will have my child back.

The next lesson I learned was to break this journey down into manageable increments of time. I can let go and put my daughter into my Higher Power’s hands “just for today.” Just for today, for this hour, this minute, I can trust that He has her and He can manage without my constant “help.” It gave me a respite from the heavy load of worry and obsession that I was carrying. No matter how brief in the early stages, it showed me what it felt like to relinquish control little by little.

I learned that my peace and serenity could not be dependent upon whether my daughter was using or not. I learned that I can only change myself. My daughter, along with her Higher Power is the only one who can change her life of addiction.

Alanon provided me with others who “got it.” They didn’t judge me or tell me what to do. They listened and they shared ideas, but they understood that it is a program of self discovery. No one can live out my recovery but myself. In time I got a sponsor who has ended up becoming a special friend. Someone I can call anytime of the day or night who will listen and bring me back to earth when crisis hits. She reminds me of what I need to know if I begin to flounder.

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. If and when she does is her business. I can’t make that happen for her. As much as I wish things were different, as much as I love her and want her to have a wonderful life full of freedom and happiness and contentment… I have learned that only she can make it happen. Just as only I can make it happen for myself too. I have had to let go of my expectations and accept life as it is. In that acceptance I have found some measure of peace, hope, and serenity.

To find an Alanon meeting near you please visit Alanon and click on the “how do I find a meeting” link. It is a safe place to be when your heart is breaking due to someone you love’s addiction.