Overcoming Denial: Finding Myself Again Amidst My Son’s Drug Addiction

Please join us in welcoming Renee Kennedy to Intervene!  Renee grew up in an alcoholic home and is the mother of a 24-year-old son that is an addict.  After many years of pain, she is now working on her own recovery through Al-Anon as being co-dependent. 

When I realized how serious my son’s opiate addiction was, I wanted to “fix it”. 

My husband, son and I went to our family doctor, took two weeks off work and tried the family vacation detox — it didn’t work.  We gave my son the option of going to rehab or living on the street.  He chose rehab for 30 days and relapsed the day he was released.

My relationship with my son was self-destructive at best.  We would argue and then he would feel justified in his drug usage.  I gave him unsolicited advice, telling him how, when and what he should do to fix his life.  These frequent arguments would end with him storming off or me telling him to leave, and him continuing to use drugs. 

We tried family counseling for over a year but I was not ready to hear the wisdom of a counselor, just as my son wasn’t ready to hear it either.  At the time I didn’t feel the 12-step Al-Anon program was what I needed.  After all, why did I need to be treated — he is the addict — why doesn’t he just stop using since it is ruining his life and making him unhappy? 

My resentment and anger built up and I did not know how to communicate with my son without having a harsh tone.  I just could not let go of the expectations I always had for my beautiful boy, and took much of what he was doing personally.  I thought if he would just stop using then my life would be fine, the pain would be gone and we could all be happy again. 

One day I just became so weary and felt alone.  I decided to go to an Al-Anon meeting at the suggestion of my counselor.  I didn’t like the first meeting, but did go back later and something clicked.  I now attend  meetings when my schedule allows — usually once a week, along with counseling. These sources of support helped me let go of my expectations of my son and realize he has a disease.  You wouldn’t ask someone with cancer to just stop having it.  He has a disease that requires him to be ready to fight for his life.

The battle is his and I can’t fight it for him.  I can conquer my own recovery from being overly involved.  I am not God nor am I cop and it is not my job to save him or police his activities. It is my job to save myself. 

I can now have a conversation with my son out of love.  I can say no to him in a loving tone and hold my boundaries  most of the time.  I still struggle, we all have good days and bad, but the manner in which I choose to deal with it is what is saving me.  I realize I have choices just like my son, and now I am choosing  to put myself at the top of my priority list.