Living with a Drug Addict

The Partnership is excited to welcome new blogger Bill Ford to our online community!  Bill is a former addict and father of children with drug addictions.  He blogs on DadOnFire, where he shares and exchanges experiences and resources in the world of addiction and recovery.

M. Scott Peck wrote in his book, The Road Less Traveled, that “Life is difficult.” If you have someone struggling with addiction in your family, I would add that difficult is an understatement.  It’s the hardest thing you will experience.  After years of hard work and raising kids: BANG!  You painfully realize your kid is a drug addict.  Difficult has just become impossible. And here’s the kick: By the time you discover your teen is using, he’s actually been using for a long time.  You took action, but it was too late for prevention. Like many others, I took the easy road — accepting my teen’s repeated contrition’s and just going on.  Denial, you might say. Then the heartache.  Much later, you discover you’re living with an addict.  This is when you know difficult is an understatement.

Father and mother talking to girl teenLiving with a person with a substance use problem is not workable — you have to grab this bull by the horns or be gored.  For some, it becomes kicking the addicted out of the house.  For others, it might be enabling and continued denial.  And for many, it’s spending your life’s savings, while watching your addict carted off to jail.. or worse. To understand the household dynamics of living with an addict, read Ron Grover’s The Seven Truths About My Addict. An addicted person does what he or she wants within the context of a potentially vicious chemical dependency.

Addiction is a disease. It changes brain chemistry.  People with addiction will go to any length to get what they need.  It is a disease that gets poor attention from the medical industry, leaving families abandoned.  We now know that treatment and recovery is a process and not an event, yet it still feels like one. Families are encouraged to invest a bunch to make that event a success.  People struggling with addiction can be stubborn and at times and they don’t see it that way. Private treatment centers know better, so a non-refundable deposit is required.  Frankly, a new treatment paradigm is needed. We can’t deal with this alone. Hillary Clinton was right when she said, “it takes a village to raise a child.” On my website, I posted a poetic gem written by a wonderful mother called Expectations.  She said, “You have to let go of the child you once knew in the future…” What a truth!

I found, for myself, that I needed to step into a totally new dimension of reality.  Being a parent of someone struggling is a social disease of its own merit, with its own 12-step protocol.  By the time you know this, you have already gone down a hard road — truly a road less traveled. You know the meaning of loss and you have to act in the context of having no time, merely chasing at the heels of the problem.

Eventually we act for better or worse, but try not to let this disease take you down.  Get help!  Talk!  Lobby!  My child lives with me only if ground rules are followed and for that reason, I often miss him. Holding the line also means letting go in a way you never have before. The serenity prayer embraces the essence of what I need to do. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

How to Break Through Barriers

It can be difficult to get past a flat–out denial of drug or alcohol use from your teen. Some kids can’t bear to take responsibility for their behavior and want to look good at all costs.

what to say text

92 Responses

Leave your Response
    User Picture

    sue keels

    March 16, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    What a great site I stumbled on. Bill, your comments on September 23, 2013 were so right on. Our 25 yr. old iv, heroin or meth using son is currently in jail because we turned him in after he kicked in our front door while we were away. It is another chance for him to detox, maybe have a moment of clarity that will start him on a path to recovery. Yes, yes, yes to your thoughts on mandated rehab instead of jail time!!! Jail time has done our son so much harm and taken him to a depth we hadn’t known before. Our hearts go out to each one of you walking this road. It is pure hell.

Leave a Comment

Please leave a comment below to contribute to the discussion. If you have a specific question, please contact a Parent Specialist, who will provide you with one-on-one help.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *