I recently visited with a father who was desperate to find ways to help his addicted son find recovery.
The son is in his early thirties and in jail. He has never been able to maintain sobriety for longer than a year, and is scheduled to be released soon. He faces a five-year prison sentence if he doesn’t complete a six-month treatment program.
The extended family and friends have long ago given up on his son.
This parent’s greatest fear is he will return to his world of addiction.
One reason he is likely to return to his life of addiction is his disease has convinced him that treatment doesn’t work for him. He has tried treatment programs over and over and continues to relapse, so he feels he is one of those chosen few who will just have to die.
That is the addictive thinking that can be altered if the addicted child can see a reason for hope.
Hope is given to the child through family cohesion which is expressed in an organized and supervised fashion by a licensed alcohol/drug counselor who specializes in codependency.
A professional should be involved in recovery because family and friends influence each other. The counselor needs to evaluate the status of this social system as the son re-enters his world.
Long-term recovery is much more likely when the child knows he has the potential to bond with his family and friends.
My primary point to this dad was he needed to stay involved with his addicted child, but not enable him. I do not want parents just to “wait for the child to hit bottom” because we know now that “bottom” is another term for death.
Also, a willingness to develop personal responsibility for better health is the key to long-term recovery. This is possible by forgiveness, love and hope shared with the child.
“Broken’ author William Cope Moyers, who is in recovery himself, recently stated in a radio interview, “… finally, one day, I decided I didn’t want to die and I needed to take personal responsibility…. There is no cure for addiction, but there is a solution and that solution includes personal responsibility.”
In reading his book, one element which supported the author in finding personal responsibility was he knew he had a supportive family.
As parents, we should stay involved – but do not enable — to prevent an addicted child’s death. We can replace our child’s dope dealer by becoming their “hope” dealers.