Negotiating Recovery

Father and mother talking to girl teenWe’ve all done it. Seldom, if ever does it work. We make deals; We are willing to sell our soul, dignity and future to an addict in an effort to stop the madness.

My efforts to negotiate recovery involved buying things, providing gifts, paying for medical treatment, rehab and rents. All this effort is a fruitless attempt to bargain away the addiction from my son. This all happens while we enable our addicts and deny the reality.

Then we begin to get smarter about enabling and stop wasting our treasures. But all that does is lead us to a new phase of negotiating. We begin negotiating with our self. We whisper inside that if I see this and that, then I can do this and that.

How do you negotiate with an addict that has no sense of justice or fair play? How can you negotiate with an addict that suffers from a disease that results in behaviors a sane person would deem insane? An addict will not and cannot negotiate away their addiction. As long as you indulge in negotiating with addiction, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

So what’s the answer? You must live in a world of a reality that involves seeing the picture as it is — not how you want it to be. Stepping back and taking in the holistic nature of this disease and how it not only affects the addict but all those that they touch is the first step. From that place, I was able to see that negotiating was hopeless. Then it came down to figuring out where I actually stood in relationship to the disease and my relationship with the addicted.

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    November 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Dear Holly,
    I just saw your posts today. My 21 year old daughter is an opiate/heroin addict and I have dealt with many of the issues and feelings that you are going through. The one thing that has helped me tremendously is going to NAR-Anon meetings. Where I live, the group meets 3 times a week in different locations, and I always attend at least one a week. At first it was wierd and it felt kinda of surreal…. adn i wasn’t sure if I was going to come back. But I did go back again and again. I hope that you find a group like this in your location. I just googled Nar-Anon and searched their website for locations in my area.
    ALL the people who attend have experiences every thing you are experiencing and can understand like no other.
    Prayers to all of us who are experiencing this pain.

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    Jerry Otero

    September 25, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Dear Holly,

    Here’s a checklist designed to help you to take care of yourself as you grapple with what to do.

    Recognizing that your child needs help with a substance abuse problem can be an emotional rollercoaster. It’s overwhelming and you may feel that the process of finding and getting your child into treatment has taken over your life.

    Although you are probably not thinking about yourself right now, one of the smartest things you can do for your child in trouble and your family is to take care of yourself so that you remain strong, healthy and clear headed.

    Here are some suggestions for ways to take care of yourself during this difficult time. After considering each step, you may find it rewarding to check off the box as you accomplish it.

    Acknowledge what you are going through as a parent
    You may be angry, scared, disappointed, ashamed and unsure what to do. All of these feelings are normal. Take a deep breath and recognize that this is a difficult time for you and your family — it is okay to be feeling a wide-range of emotions.

    Seek professional counseling for yourself
    While your child is battling an alcohol or other drug problem, you’re also struggling with serious issues. “The pain, blame, shame, helplessness, and worry that parents feel are huge,” Dr. Gayle Dakof, Ph.D. explains. “You need to feel that you are not alone, and I believe parents and caregivers need professional help to help them address feelings of blame and shame.”

    Find a Support Group
    Not all support groups are well-run or a good fit for you personally. You may have to shop around until you find a therapist or support group that is the best fit for you and your family.

    Reach Out To Others — In Your Local Community
    Think about family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and others in your community who have experiences raising a child with an alcohol or other drug problem.

    Make a list of people to reach out to who you think could lend an ear and offer support.

    Make an effort to meet up with each person one-on-one so you can share your fears, anger, and concerns with someone who understands and who has been there.

    Reach Out To Others — Online
    Connect with other parents who understand what you’re going through. Visit the online communities available at The Partnership at to gain wisdom, find comfort and feel less alone.

    Do Things That Makes You Feel Better
    Whether it’s taking long walks, exercising, or having coffee with a friend, take time out for yourself to do the things you enjoy. Scheduling even a little bit of daily or weekly “me-time” can be healthy and ultimately help you be more focused on helping your child.

    Finally, it is perfectly normal to feel as if you don’t want to burden anyone with how you are feeling, but we at the Helpline are here to listen to your concerns, challenges, setbacks and provide you with a respite from the ongoing emotional turmoil — even if you feel that all you can do is cry about it. You won’t be the first caller to do so.

    Until then, I wish you and the others on this blog who share your concerns, all the best.

    Jerry Otero MA
    Parent Support Specialist

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    September 24, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    I want to call that number but every time I think about even talking about this I start crying. No one wants to hear someone just cry on the phone. Things have gone steadily downhill since I posted that and I’d almost forgotten that I did, until today. His probation officer has actually been pretty helpful in trying to get him into some kind of rehab or detox but of the 2 options offered by the state, a counselor at one told me not to let him go there because it’s for young men 18-26 and all they do is tell each other how to get away with using. The other one I have no knowledge of. Either way, he’s going back to boot camp, which he actually asked for.

    He’s using. He’s been lax on his curfew. I caught him with a box of my mother’s Christmas china in his room about 2am Sat. He said he’d thought about trying to sell it but realized he probably couldn’t (the only real value is sentimental, I’m sure). Later I went through his room and found all the serving pieces of my great grandmother’s sterling silver flatware. That has pawn or scrap value.

    He left about 7pm Sat evening and never came home til 11am today. He was here for about 10 minutes, hugged me and said he was so, so sorry. He’d been smoking something, I could tell. He loaded up our two push mowers in his friend’s truck to go cut their grass down the road. When I called the friend to talk to him at 1:30 to tell him he needed to come home so I could take him to probation, he said he already had a ride. Still sounded messed up. I went down to get him anyway and he’s gone. Loaded the mowers in my truck by myself because god knows, they won’t be there tomorrow. He hasn’t kept his last 2 weeks appointments at probation, I just found out, and I doubt he’s there today.

    So I called his PO and told him. Told him he never called the detox place last week like he said he did (we looked at cell records), never came home all weekend, was on something, and probably won’t be in today.

    That was a very hard call to make. Very.

    I will call when I’m able to talk. Aside from getting him help, *I* need help.

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    September 9, 2012 at 6:05 AM

    I came across this website by luck. Just reading the posts have helped me. My daughter, 21 yrs old, has been a heroiin addict for 2 yrs. …….

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    September 7, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    I can relate to Holly’s situation. My 31 year old son began using Heroin approx. 8 months ago upon starting to date a stripper. Wonderful!! He lied about her profession, lied about her heroin use and eventually lied about his starting to use heroin for the first time with her. We left on vacation with the understanding if he stayed there no one else was to be in the house. He let her stay there that night. We received his phone call at 7pm three days after we left. She had robbed our house while he was a work. Had to drive back hom from Daytona Beach without stopping. We didn’t know he was using. I denied to myself and everyone who tried to talk to me. We kicked him out of the house and I thought I was going to die. I just wanted to fix it like I try and fix everything else. After 3 months away from home and trying to quit several times on his own he finally admitted to me he was shooting it up in his arm and wanted to quit and wanted help. He has been going to a meth clinic every morning and still goes to work but I still don’t trust him. It has almost destroyed the relation between his step father and him and his step father and me. My husband is pissed off and I just want my son back. I have enabled him by giving him money, letting him slide on cell phone bill and taken care of his kids when he needs to. I am finally seeking help from a counselor with drug addiction experience. She used to work at a meth cliinic and treats drug addicts. I figure if she can’t help me stop “helping” my son no one can. May god bless and keep us all!!

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