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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    May 16, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Amy, one thing we can all at least give each other is support. Nobody can fix this problem, and there are no right or wrong answers, but if nothing else, it’s nice to know you are not alone. I was told on New Year’s that if my son followed down the same path he was following with his herion use, he would be dead in six months. I half believed it at the time, now, I fully believe it. He is a mess. He is no longer living at home thankfully but is doing worse than ever. He can’t work because he is so addicted and sick when he tries to stop. He is probably going to be evicted from the horrible room he is now paying rent to live to a homeless shelter.. again. He tells us he wants to quit so we jump and take him to detox centers and the er, but he won’t get himself into a long term program. I believe this is because he really doesn’t want to stop using.. just wants to know there is stuff he can take if he’s not using so he won’t go into detox. It’s a nightmare. This is a kid who graduated with high honors in college and inspired to go to medical school. Now he is on food stamps and can’t hold a minimum wage paying job. My best advice to you is to show him you are not accepting this person your son has become, it’s your way of detaching from the situation and may show him that he can’t lean on you to support his habit because in a way, that’s what we as parent’s are doing. Hang in there, I can’t say it gets better, but I can say that it’s makes you stronger.

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    May 12, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    The last time I posted was March 10th… Today May 12th, my son is 92 days sober. Best Mothers Day present ever when he called me yesterday afternoon. He is still at his rehabilitation center and told me how much he loves it there. I take everyday one day at a time. If you read back on my several post its been a roller coaster. Still have my moments of anger, I still don’t trust him and I still doubt myself and him. However, I do thank GOD everyday that he is still there and working on his addiction. Maybe one day he can be a regular functioning adult.
    I continue to write on here to give others HOPE. Helping an addict is not by giving them a place to sleep or food on the table. Best decision I made was being strong and not go back on my word. Tough love helped him understand he needed HELP! As much as I cried and it hurt me to know that my son was sleeping in all different places if he wasn’t with his enabling grandmother…. It hurt me to know that on Christmas he didn’t have a family to wake up with, on his Birthday he didn’t have anyone to celebrate with only his addict friends and drugs. It took for him to notice that he was alone and had no one… for him to accept my last plea to him. He started really young (and still is young)… his life went in a spiral very fast. He has realized that it wasn’t anyone’s fault that he would always blame. It was him who made the choices. Now he’s the one that has to fix himself.
    Again, one day at a time… An addict is an addict forever. I just enjoy these Happy Moments right now and Pray that our family has a lot more coming.

    A Mother of a Teen Addict

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    May 12, 2014 at 3:25 PM

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    May 4, 2014 at 4:39 AM

    I don’t feel so alone after reading all these familiar stories. I have been
    dealing with my sons drug addiction for about 6 years, started with pot
    then pills, he had ACL replacement surgery (tore it from dirt bike riding)
    doctors gave him pills and its escalated into heroin. I was so sick the night
    I found the needles. Put him in rehab three different times, realized it’s
    just a detox center. I am feeling so depressed that i will eventually lose
    him to this demon. went on vacation last week and got a call from my
    daughter that he overdosed, thank God his friends found him in his car,
    he was purple. He said all he could think about in the ambulance was me.
    so I figured this could be rock bottom, wrong again, when i returned he was back out with his so called friends. This is the hardest thing, I really need some support.

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    April 23, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    I am @ my wits end, my son went from alcohol, to opiates, to xanax, got him on suboxone to stop opiates but then he started taking the xanax. he went to out partient counsling but he just manipulated the doctor. he needs inpatient rehab, his job interviened, he went for less than a week, came out and back to outpatient rehab again, he’s worse than ever & is messing up again. I am so afraid of that call from Police saying he is heart is broken, I feel helpless.

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