Recently my daughter moved home. She has struggled with addiction for several years and for several years I have struggled with feeling the loss along with how to help her, as her mother.
This is a position I never thought I’d be in. The day I gave birth to that beautiful child I never envisioned this for us. As I held her precious body in my arms and surveyed her adorable footsies, never did I think or foresee the danger and treacherous roads ahead.
I don’t want to go into too much of the history just yet because I want to write the recipe as I remember it and before I forget any integral portion. I am getting absorbed into the joy of having her home, spending time with her and seeing her well so I must do this now. These things may not work for every situation, but darn it-isn’t it worth a try?
Recipe for how to love an addict
1. Accept defeat! That’s right. Drugs are Satan at his absolute best and through illegal substances he infiltrates your dear ones and grips them with a death grip that no words can describe. Nobody knows they’re an addict until they’ve already been gripped- so dispel that anger towards them right now, it won’t do you or them ANY. GOOD. WHATSOEVER! You are defeated at the moment..not forever. Work through those feelings and move on to the next step. They’ve been “taken” and you can not help them unless they want you to!
2. Get educated. Learn everything you can about drug addiction. Research scientific studies, not personal opinions. Accept the truths-it helps one to put to rest any personal offense they may have been taking. Join support groups, consider therapy with an experienced counselor-interview several, find one that you can connect with.
3. “Leave a light on.” Obviously you may not be able to have them live with you for various safety reasons, however you can offer them help in other ways. Let them know your light is always on, that you’re thinking of them always and love them. Offering a ziploc of necessities isn’t a bad idea, either-especially if they’re homeless. I use to leave regular messages on my daughters facebook and they were loving messages only-nothing preachy or judgmental and ya know, it really helped me feel good. Also, before she came home I was getting ready to volunteer my time with a local teen mothers organization dedicated to helping youths to get off the street and gain independence. Of course now, my energy must go to her directly.
4. Regardless of your faith (or lack thereof) there is ALWAYS hope. Accept that. It’s great to be realistic, but hope is good to and as long as they’re still breathing, you’ve got a chance! For me, I believe the Lord is my savior and through Him I can truly do anything. I chose to put my troubles in His very capable grip because I have faith that He had a plan and look where we are!? Spending time with the Lord and praying about it was what truly helped me survive. Some may call it “meditating” but either way, settling down to collect one’s thoughts is key.
5. Remember the happy times. It gets easy to get caught up in where things went wrong or why…try to think about the happy times you shared with that person because it truly does help and as the saying goes, “don’t cry that it’s over smile that it happened.”
6. Remove negative people from your circle. I once had a “friend” who claimed I should’ve just locked my daughter away in her room. Well, at the time I was a single mama holding a job to support my babies and keep a roof over their heads! It’s just not logical nor is it legal. Keeping someone locked in their room is called, “false imprisonment” and is against the law. This person also indicated I must have not tried everything to help my daughter and this is categorically false. I used all the resources that were available to me to help her including filing a youth petition with the local juvenile courts to request a judge’s help in gaining some sanity to our situation of running away, skipping school, etc. It didn’t help because the judge lacked follow through with threats and there wasn’t any place to house such troubled youth. In the end, our options were just few but I did what I could.
Having a lock down for youth in trouble where they can attend school, have visitors, etc may have helped but with limited funding this wasn’t an option (this state has NO lock down facilities unless the youth has committed crimes) and again, if someone isn’t ready for help this could make things worse anyway..the positive to it of course is at least they aren’t on the streets.
I called the police multiple times. I offered and attended counseling sessions. I had her placed in two rehab facilities, she ran from one and another out of state lock down facility she did complete (it was just over a month long, not enough time in my opinion) but ran pretty much as soon as she returned home-again, if they aren’t ready for help, you can’t force it but I had to try. The list goes on, but I did try.
I had to remove this friend, very toxic. She claimed she’d locked her own brother up for months and supposedly he’s no clean and things are wonderful…well, that’s great but what she did was ILLEGAL and won’t necessarily work for everyone. I was horrified with her treatment of her brother. Surround yourself with positive people.
7. Remember the other loved ones in your life. Try not to let the situation swallow you. If you have other children and loved ones, don’t forget that they still need you. I had family that chose to judge this aspect. I don’t think they wanted to understand what all I had going on.
8. What!? They’ve asked for help? Ok-it’s go time! They got to a point where they’re ready for help. This portion is where it’s really imperative. Accept the person for where they’re at in life. No matter what they say has happened, maintain a loving and non-judgmental face and tone. They need your love, not your judgments.
9. Bring them home. Help them locate suitable care. This could mean out patient treatments or in patient but let them decide. You can gently voice your thoughts, but remember this is THEIR care and being in control is important for a lot of people so the choices need to be theirs. At this point, trying is the key-not whether or not it will work. It may work, it may not but we already fail if we won’t try.
10. Help them get to all of their care appointments, court hearings, etc. Enjoy the time with them that you’re getting, it’s a gift. Help them sign up for whatever aid will help them. Give them adjustment time-remember, life hasn’t exactly been “normal” for them.
11. Allow them time to bond with their other loved ones. They’ve all missed them too and forming these ties truly aids in their healing process. Keep things as calm and loving as you can.
12. Creature comforts. Don’t be afraid to allow them the OTHER things that fill the void left by no longer using. I didn’t mind buying my daughter her ciggies because I figured it was understandable that coming off one addiction, there would still be this and it did increase again but I saw that for the moment it was helping her and I went with it. There are also various foods/clothes/shoes that may help, let them guide you.
13. Take pictures! Enjoy this the best you can. I know you’re worrying and I know what you’re worrying about-try to set that aside and enjoy this. You (and they) deserve this. Go places, experience things, show them stuff–cooking, budgeting, driving, personal rights, shopping for food/clothes and how to save money, etc…
14. “Open door policy.” They can come and go as they please. It has to always be THEIR choice to be there with you. I’ve been blessed in that my daughter has mainly stayed with us. This has created MUCH less worry for myself but also it’s time she’s had to reflect, feel safe, be with her siblings, rest, etc.
15. The time. It may be awhile and that’s ok. It took awhile to get to this point, it’ll take awhile to get back. Like going a mile out of your way to find a crosswalk even though where you want to be is just across the street…eight lanes of traffic, but still…lol, you get the picture. You go that mile to find a crosswalk but you’ll have to do the mile to get back to where you want to be.
16. If the unthinkable happens-they regress and start using again. DO NOT PANIC. Sometimes this is part of the process.
More to come as I think of them….from my heart, this helped us. I’m sure it’s a mixture of where she’s at and where I’m at that has made it successful so far, but I have to share it for others because you just never know who it may help.