My son stopped using over two years ago. For seven years he was addicted to drugs and, by the end, was a heroin addict. Today he is drug-free and working to put his life back together.
There are countless books and websites about addiction, rehab and recovery. Most of them are filled with valuable information that helps both the addict and the parent. I won’t discredit anything on these sites or in these books, but I want to share what I have learned about being the parent of an addict in recovery, not from reading but from experience — no long-drawn processes or lengthy explanations. These are just some realizations that seem to help me.
1. Recovery is hard. Sometimes your child needs a hand. Make sure your hand is out for them to grasp when needed. But don’t hold on too long.
2. Addicts dig deep holes for themselves. Contrary to what you may think, filling the hole is faster when only one person has a shovel. If you help to shovel, it will take longer to fill the hole.
3. Forgiveness is for me. The sooner I understand, the faster I heal.
4. “Believe” or “doubt?” I choose to believe. Have you ever had someone tell you that they believe in you?
5. Normal is right. “Fragile. Handle with Care” is not stamped in big red letters on a child in recovery. To stop using drugs or alcohol means he or she wants a normal life again.
6. Nagging, suspicious looks and reminders of past mistakes really irritate me. Addicts in recovery probably don’t need them either.
7. His recovery is his to manage. I know that for the last seven years, he hasn’t been able to manage ANYTHING. But we all have to learn and begin someplace.
8. I love you. That is a reassurance we ALL need.