Adult Addicts Living with Parents
Enabling or Helping?
Parents want their grown addicted children to live at home. Why? So they can cure them? Because they feel responsible? It’s their parental obligation? They feel it is in their power and control to heal them? If they are diligent, they can keep their child out of harms way? Constantly asking themselves or God, “Where did I/we go wrong”? And finally, that really big ‘What if’ question’. What if I put them out on the street, and while they are out there, they die? What if they die from an overdose, or suicide, or at the hands of someone else? These are really BIG questions. Now let’s expose some of these fear thoughts.
You cannot heal someone who is not ready to receive (heal yourself first).
Their addiction is not your fault. Your responsibility as a parent is to provide the necessities of life, and a safe, disciplined and loving environment for your child to ‘grow up’ in. If you have other thriving ‘adult’ children, then know and accept that you have done so.
You will never be able to stay one step ahead of your child. Addicts are expert strategists and often the best liars (well intentioned of course). Remember, your child is likely to heal, which will require a lot of reflection on their part. How do you want them to remember you, in their time of darkness? Keep this in mind the next time you go through your son’s room, or the next time you look at his phone when he’s just stepped out, hoping for some clue. Think about this the next time you catch your kid in a lie. By constantly asking them questions you already know the answers to, is setting your child up to lie. This only creates further guilt and shame within, and makes them want to escape even more. Think about all the accusations, the screaming, the tears. Words that can never be taken back. The only thing parents are in any control of is how they ‘deal’—period.
Your child’s addiction is the most powerful aspect of their life at this moment in time. EVERYTHING is always about the “next fix." Your child is no different, and it’s not personal.
As parents and partners, you feel a constant strain on your marriage that was never there before. Both of you may not be on the same page as it relates to different aspects of the addiction. The child, knowingly or not, often plays one parent against the other, causing a triangle of dissension, resentment, frustration, and helplessness.
What about the other adult children in the family? The addicted sibling, still living at home, becomes the ‘star attraction’. Everything centres around them. Holidays and get togethers. A time everyone used to look forward to now causes great anxiety and heartbreak. Everyone is always on edge. And after these visits or phone calls, everyone is emotionally drained. And yet somehow we reason that it is worth it for the good of the addict. But is it really? Are we not sacrificing the whole for one part?
Let’s face it, addicts already hate themselves enough—all the pain they have caused everyone. They feel weak and ashamed despite what might show up on the outside. How could we possibly understand any of this unless we had walked a mile in their addicted shoes. So, not only are they disgusted with themselves but now they feel such guilt at what their addiction has done to their family, the people they love, the people that love them. Let’s not add anymore to it.
Parents with good intentions are bailing their children out financially, watching bank accounts and cell phones. By trying to control these things, you are merely delaying the inevitable. Rock bottom is the first step to recovery. Rip the band-aid off and just stop trying to save them. Sleepless nights worrying, all the spying, searching, praying, crying and arguing. You are filled with endless worry which creates the biggest kind of knot in the pit of your stomach. The saddest part is, it’s almost starting to feel normal. The only thing you have control over is you. Be the best version of you. How do you want to remember yourself in all this?
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.