When Parents Blame Themselves for Their Teen’s Addiction

anger at your child's addiction

How should one deal with the anger that accompanies drug addiction? I mean — your anger as a parent, not your child’s.

I feel that there has been much focus on confronting the child’s anger, that parents fail to address their own. That’s dangerous. The illness of substance use disorder requires two parties: the parent(s) and the child.  Unfortunately, all too often the addict is MIA. As hard as parents might try, forcing their child to have an epiphany is awfully difficult. Especially as teenagers when they are often unprepared to accept the responsibility that an epiphany requires.

It’s maddening. Feeling frustrated at their failings mixed with the natural parental instinct to spare your child usually leads to anger at oneself.

To a parent, if your child is failing, that means you have failed. Few people will be rude enough to actually say that. Our society merely implies it, like when a friend’s child graduates from college and they ask, “So when is your kid going to college?”

Self-anger becomes self-loathing, eroding your self-esteem. Sounds like the playbook to becoming addicted, doesn’t it? I’m not saying you’ll climb into a bottle of vodka or start arranging lines of coke on the coffee table, but the corrosive effects of feeling like you failed as a parent will eat away like an emotional parasite. It will impact your personal life, affect your relationships, your job and most of all, your capacity to help your child.

The best advice is: Don’t blame yourself.

All parents make mistakes and have been since the beginning of time. Internalizing your anger only damages you. However, don’t dismiss the anger either. Don’t act as if it isn’t real. As the parent of an addicted child, you have reason to be upset.

Acknowledge your anger and the causes of your pain. Don’t just let it rush over you like a tsunami.

Above all else, avoid pointing fingers and playing “The Blame Game.” Our world is adroit at fixing blame for our misfortunes, whether it’s from poor diet or bad karma.

Drug addiction is an illness. Don’t blame yourself or your child for that.

How to Get Help for the Rest of the Family

Substance issues affect more than just the person who is struggling. Learn about how to get help for siblings and everyone else going through it.

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