My Son’s Drug Addiction: What I Learned About Myself

When I learned my son was addicted to drugs, my focus was on him and his addiction. Like many parents, I felt that his addiction was every bit of my problem as it was his. I tirelessly tried to fix his addiction but after a few years of repeated behaviors and strong reactions, no one got better.

I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.

It wasn’t until I realized that my son’s sobriety was out of my control that I began to feel better. I had much to learn about myself and how I had little to no authority over this disease.

“What have I learned?” I think this is the most important question a parent of a teen with an addiction can ask him or herself. This self-reflective question emphasizes you, the parent, and not the child with the drug problem.

In the midst of crisis and drama, it is difficult to figure out what to do to support a loved one with an addiction. A parent cannot deal successfully with the chaos this disease brings if he or she is feeling fear and anger within.

True education occurs when we can sit quietly and reflect upon the events and look critically at our own role as a loving and supportive parent. Without quiet contemplation and analysis of your own actions, a parent can fall into the same traps and reactions. After a long period of doing the same thing over and over again, you may begin questioning, “Who is the crazy one in this picture?”

Working through the layers of actions and experiences to figure out what one has learned, may or may not be a solitary exercise. Counselors, therapists, and fellow loved ones of addicts, can be brought in to help with this deliberation.

However, in the end, the decisions lie with you and how you choose to internalize the learning. Following that, you begin to realize the truism of the saying, “Nothing changes, if nothing changes.”

“What have I learned?” is a recurring theme throughout parenting a loved one with an addiction.

What have I learned through the years? A better question would be “What have I learned, unlearned and re-learned?”

This disease is not one that lends itself to a standardized treatment regimen that guarantees recovery. In fact, recovery is actually a misnomer in that there is a new normal.

To all other parents out there, there will be more learning and hardships as you go along. This is a fluid disease that changes symptoms and behaviors as it progresses. We must become more flexible in our learning and treatment if we ever hope to live a healthy lifestyle and must have a meaningful relationship with our loved one with an addiction.

Parents — What have you learned about yourself? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below.

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99 Responses

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    December 4, 2017 at 5:53 AM

    My continual forgiveness of the behaviours associated with the disease actually caused the disease to progress. Finally put my foot down and actually spewed out the truth regarding how his addiction is affecting my life. I’m the last man standing in his circle of life. Its either get help or I’m continuing on without him in it. Completely cut off of all communication. I need and deserve a peaceful life with people in my life who respect my needs or at least a few of them. I’ve also learned that the expression of feelings is necessary. just to acknowledge the addicts feelings. Don’t have to agree with them just acknowledge them. As an enabler I was in denial of how much my enabling was allowing his disease to continue. I can see now how the addict is in denial of how much the drugs are affecting them. Far most important.. I will never be the one who decides if he seeks treatment or not.. .. and it’s not my responsibility to begin with. As a parent once I figure out hat the underlying driving force behind my own enabling behaviour is when I can stop enabling and fix my own issue or issues. Its healthy to be focused on our own lives.. and making “Do you ever think about the future Linus? ” ” Oh yes, all the time…” What do you think you’d like to be when you grow up?” “Outrageously happy!

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    July 8, 2017 at 11:46 AM

    Ever thought the parents might be the issues and not the other way around? It is funny how parents try so hard to fix their kids not realizing that they might be the reason for their child’s inability to handle their own emotions. No child is “crazy”. They are innocent beings and to put all blame on them for their issues just avoids any kind of healing and accountability. And don’t think medication is the ultimate fixer upper. Children are programmed based on their environments and how their parents treat them. And if there is something in that parent that has never been personally addressed, it always ends up being projected onto the child and it forms that child. So quit blaming the kids for the issues and maybe start taking accountability for your own issues. This is coming from someone who spent their whole life thinking they were nuts and self medicated only to realize my family was the reason behind my anxiety and anger. I don’t hate them for it, but they still refuse to say they were emotionally abusive and I can’t allow that to stop me from getting better. Others most likely give in and continue to be drug addicts. By putting my family’s feelings and judgement above my own (because you want to be loved and seek approval, it is what children do) I never gained self worth and became abusive myself. And it doesn’t matter if a parent is a full blown alcoholic or not (you could be codependent or a narcissist–both are extremely common traits that can be present without alcohol or drugs), people are people and they either avoid their problems or deal with them. Unfortunately, children are caught right in the middle of it all and most times people choose to use their kids to fill a void in themselves. So no, if you give up on your kid don’t forget how or why they may have even ended up like that. A sister or another relative is one thing, but a child is a parents responsibility and to say you can’t help them any longer is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. Evaluate your own problems and maybe you will see why your kid became a drug addict.

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    November 8, 2016 at 7:23 PM

    robinson. buckler@…… restored my relationship, my boyfriend came back to me, i took him back and I am now settled with my him ..

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    January 2, 2016 at 12:38 PM

    My daughter was in the Army and came home from war, the victim of a severe injury, sexual abuse and rape, and PTSD. The VA started her on a path of destruction with every Med in the pharmacy including pain mess. She was then in a horrible motorcycle accident and lost her leg. She spent two years on dulaudid, whcih then turned into a heroin addiction and legal trouble. Her dad and I fought beside her every day. Detox, after detox, rehab after rehab. Mental health etc…. She came to me one day begging for this all to be done and over so we took her and had her chemically detoxed and had a Naltrexone implant done. She is now sober for two years… There are no guarantees… But I don’t fear the phone ringing anymore… There are dangers with Naltreone and it is not a miracle drug, but she said it killed the cravings for her and that gave her the ability to actually be able to utilize all the other skills she had learned in rehab over the years… To each family member who reads’s a personal war that you fight… The answer is different for each of us as to how much we can take…personally I just knew that if I walked away and she died, I could never live with myself…but we suffered a lot for the decision… We lived in hell and pain… No matter the choice you make… If you feel you have done all you can.. Then be at peace..

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    December 28, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    I’ve been dating a guy for 7 yrs, i finally old my home and moved in with him. Our dream was to move out of state and live happily ever after. Once moving in I saw that his 19 y/o sons not only sit home and drinks 1/2 bottle of vodka by himself but he smokes pot anywhere from 3-6 times a week, just what I catch. Who knows what he does when we are at work. He quit college, quit his job, he could be depressed or it could be drugs. I tried talking to my b/f about it and the answers are ” we were young once” or ” if I tell him to top he won’t” All of this has been building in me and I finally exploded. The 3 of us, his son was in my face screaming at me, telling me I’m not his f-in mother and what he does isn’t my f-in business.” The fight got pretty verbally intense. My b/f did nothing like to tell his son to top. He did not defend me a all. Now I’m looking for a new job and home in the dream state we were going to go to. We don’t speak, I wish I could could move. In the mean time I’m waiting to hear his son is dead or in jail. Heroin is so bad in our area and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s doing that. I saw his son give a fried a pill, so I don;t know if it was a one time thing or taking my b/f and selling them. He doesn’t keep track of his meds, I just can’t believe how bad things has gotten because I brought up the obvious,

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