My Son’s Addiction: What Is vs. What Ought To Be

Most of us live in two worlds: the world of what is and the world of ought to be. This is not an issue that only parents of addicts face — this is a reality of most everyone. For many, residing in two worlds at the same time causes great frustration and anger. There are some that fail to even recognize that there is a difference, they spend their lives trying to mold their existing reality into a life of what ought to be.

The problem as a parent of an addict is living in the world of ought to be disrupts your perspective to what is happening with your son or daughter that is an addict. The world of ought to be continually puts us in a place where it is impossible to help our addict. It causes frustration and anger with the addict, the world and ourselves. Ought to be causes us to lose our grasp on the reality of our situation. We are the parents of an addict; this is the reality we cannot avoid. All of the what ifs, and should haves mean nothing when you are trying to help a child who is addicted.

An addict lives their life in the world of what is minute to minute. The pain of addiction, the worry of getting their next fix, a life without purpose, this is the world of reality for an addict – the world of what is.

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. Ought to be allows us to enable our addict. Ought to be allows us to excuse our addict’s behavior. Ought to be distorts our thinking and our reality. Inside my child is a good kid they just have this addiction problem, so we ought to be treating them as a good kid and everything will work its way through. If we do that then they ought to see the problem and they will stop. I have fallen into that trap so many times.

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. When I am living in the world of what is I am an effective helper for my addict. Recognizing the truths of what is helps me to stop enabling and forces me to deal not just with my son as I want him to be, but to recognize what truly is the reality of my addicted child’s life. Without that perspective, I cannot relate to my addict’s pain and I cannot help myself.