Addiction is a disease very little of us fully understand. When we know someone struggling with drugs and alcohol, it’s virtually impossible to feel their pain. But we often forget to think about the family members of those battling with addiction. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we offer family therapy as part of our comprehensive treatment programs. On occasions, members want to share their stories. Without further ado, here’s “an open letter to my drug-addicted son.”
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A Letter to My Addicted Son
You, my addict, have been using since you were 14 years old, almost one-third of your life. You were supremely confident. Matt, you had this ability to do drugs and function in your daily life without anyone noticing a difference.
It bothers me that you didn’t think about what you were doing to the rest of us as you went through life and battled with addiction. You were so oblivious to who you hurt along the way because your addiction turned you deaf and blind.
We spent immeasurable time trying to find a way to support you. It hurts so bad to remember the countless hours we spent worrying about you. Even with our best efforts, we soon realized we were helping our addict, not our son; he was already gone.
As I’m writing this letter, I had the best son in the world: loving, caring, a good student, and a great athlete. Then, addiction took the best of him. On the other hand, my addict was the best quitter in the world. He was quick in leaving school behind; he said goodbye to his friends, soon enough, he quit his job. Maybe, without even realizing it, he abandoned his family and on life.
But even within the bad, he was the best at one thing — lying. The lies he said to us weren’t hurtful. Perhaps, the most painful memories were watching my son’s addiction become his reality. My son believed everything his addict told him. Addiction was his “Oz,” all knowledgeable and all-powerful. I would be lying if I didn’t say we felt powerless around him.
Our addict was a thief, stealing from those who loved him. He stole from those who gave him willingly, snatched from the innocent, stole from our family, and, worst of all, our addict stole our son.
Today, I know where the addict lives. I know he lives through the empty shell that’s left of my boy. He cannot hide from me; I know him and what he represents. But, I also recognize and remember with tender love the happy boy that’s somewhere in that body. I’m aware that my son has entered rehab, but the addict that controls him won’t let him stay.
I wish I could say it aches less, but it doesn’t. Truthfully, I miss our son, and I never got along with our addict. As I write this letter to my drug-addicted son, I can’t help but break a tear. Who wouldn’t?
In the meantime, I remain hopeful that one day you’ll win your battle against substance abuse. Please know that wherever and whenever that happens, your parents will be waiting. We might need some time to get to know our son again, but no matter what happens, you’ll always be our son.
God bless you,Dad
How Parents Can Find Support
Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family, not just the addict. Family members often place guilt and shame on themselves when their loved ones fall for drug addiction. However, this couldn’t be further away from the truth. Many factors impact someone’s risk of developing an addiction, and in many cases, it’s not a family member’s fault.
Intervening in a Child’s Substance Abuse
When it comes to speaking about your child’s substance abuse, it’s a lot about listening. First, listen to what your son or daughter has to say. But then, listen to what those around them could say about the red flags. Unfortunately, there’s never a perfect way to go around what to do when you find drugs in your child’s room. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Speak compassionately and with empathy
- Share observations don’t condemn them
- Discuss the dangers of substance abuse
- Set healthy boundaries
- Establish a realistic goal for treatment or help
We all have our misconceptions about drug addiction and even alcohol addiction. We’re stigmatized by what we see in the movies and hear about in the news. However, there’s a lot about addiction we don’t understand. Educating yourself about your child’s addiction is paramount for becoming their support system.
If you choose to intervene, do your best to determine what type of substance they’re abusing. Signs and symptoms of opiate addiction will be extremely different from alcohol abuse. Learning how to react when they display symptoms can help you both in the long run.
Join a Support Group
Most parents know about the existence of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Still, they don’t know about support groups for parents with addict children. Yes, many drug rehab treatment centers offer support groups and therapy for families. Here, parents, like you, can share their struggles, talk about their feelings, and hear from others in the same boat.
Knowing that you’re not alone in this fight is a comforting and hopeful feeling that can help you find the strength to support your children through their addiction. Sometimes, even when you find yourself writing a letter to your drug-addicted son, you’ll see the power of support.
Finding the Right Help
In the end, the decision to seek treatment lies within your child. You can force them to treatment, but therapy won’t help if they’re not ready or willing to get better. The recovery path is a long, painful, and sometimes lonely one. Having the support of family members can be significantly crucial for those battling with addiction.
At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in comprehensive treatment programs that integrate the entire family. While recovering addicts go through either partial hospitalization or outpatient programs, we also encourage family therapy. By addressing the addiction as a collective unit, everyone can better understand the triggers, overcome the struggles, and analyze their roles within their child’s recovery.
If your loved one is struggling with addiction, don’t set them aside. Contact our admission specialists today to learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help you and your family find the right path to recovery.