If you are a parent whose child is suffering from addiction, your whole world has been turned upside down. You probably thought it could never happen to you.
Make no mistake: Addiction can happen to anyone. Finding out your child suffers from the disease known as addiction can be devastating.
As parents, our first reaction—after the denial and guilt we inevitably feel—is to ask ourselves what we can do to fix our child. After all, since they first entered this world, we have been our child’s keeper. We have comforted them when they were feeling sad and chased away the monsters under their bed.
But addiction is different. You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it.
Of course, getting help for your addicted child is a top priority. You want them to get professional help and start their recovery as soon as possible. But you also need to take care of yourself. Your recovery is just as important.
When you’re the parent of a child with a drug or alcohol problem, it’s so easy to be completely consumed by their addiction. When you become addicted to their addiction, every aspect of your life can be affected, and your physical and mental health can begin to suffer. When that happens, you won’t be able to help your child when they need it most.
When you take care of yourself first, you will notice that things start to change for the better for your whole family. When you stop being fully consumed by your child’s addiction you build strength to both tolerate what you can’t change and change what you can. As a calmer, happier person, you will be contributing to an atmosphere that is conducive to the change you hope to see in your child.
You must learn how to coexist with your child’s addiction, and putting your life on hold while you concentrate on your child’s crisis is not the answer.
Taking care of yourself and working on your own recovery isn’t being selfish. It’s an essential part of your child’s and your family’s recovery. If you don’t take care of yourself first, everyone will end up suffering.