Intervene

A blog for parents concerned about their teens alcohol and drug use




Part I: Forgiveness: My Struggles to Make Amends with Myself and My Addict
Thursday, September 29th, 2011

ForgivenessDealing with the aftermath of my stepfather’s drunken escapades in my childhood became as common as getting out of bed in the morning. My family thought it was “normal” to scream at each other, to throw dishes across the room, and to pretend it didn’t hurt when these type of things happened. My mother seemed as if she had forgiven my stepfather’s behavior every single day only to have it occur again the very same day. My middle brother was a drug addict at this time also. He would bully my grandmother into giving him every last dime of her life savings, would rob our home — the home he lived in — and scream at all of us when we refused to let him in the house. He even stole from my piggy bank when I was 10-years-old.  Addicts have one purpose — to get more drugs, period. In this case too, my mother seemed to want to forget and continue to enable him.   It was an endless cycle.

When you are a small child growing up in a home plagued with addiction you get a very distorted picture of what it means to forgive. We do whatever is necessary to survive the emotional rollercoaster we are on, while resentment builds inside of us. When we are old enough to understand the addiction we just want to forget everything that ever happened. It would be great if I could wave a magic wand and erase all those terrible memories. But I have had to live with them.

They have altered my ability to trust, to believe in others, to feel worthy of love, and to forgive. I was so angry at the people I should have loved the most. I hated my stepfather for his embarrassing and painful displays of drunkenness. I hated my brother for being so weak and conniving. I hated my mother for not being strong enough to protect me from them. As an adult, I was isolated and angry. I ran away from my family because I wanted to be the complete opposite of them. I wanted to attract good.

Let me tell you that you can run to the ends of the earth and it will never be far enough to avoid yourself. The only true way to heal from your loved one’s addiction is to forgive — forgive the person, forgive those affected by the person, but most of all you have to forgive yourself. It took me over thirty-five years to truly begin forgiving. Sure I had said hundreds of times before that I was over all of the negativity, but I hadn’t really learned how.

Have you forgiven yourself and your loved one with a drug addiction?  Share your story of forgiveness below.

Read Part II of my blog post next week to learn to how I forgave myself and those around me.

Related Links:
Acceptance: Regaining Trust and Rebuilding the Family Unit
Dealing with Feelings: 5 Ways I Cope with My Young Adult’s Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Moving Away From Enabling
Time to Get Help

Posted by Michelle A. Woycitzky  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Alcohol, Enabling, Family History, Forgiveness  /  Comments: more



6 Things My Husband and I Did to Save Our Marriage
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Save your marriageMiraculously, my husband Matt and I have been married for 26 years.  We are raising the last of our 4 kids together and our marriage has survived some significant hits through the years.

In our early years, there was a physical injury that resulted in the loss of Matt’s career and financial calamity, we lost a baby due to a second trimester miscarriage, we have both lost our fathers in their old age and we have faced the disease of addiction as it insidiously wound its way through our family unit.

Dealing with our daughter’s addiction was by far the most difficult and the most painful thing we have had to navigate together as a couple. In our early years, we were both sort of shell shocked and in my mind I can see the two of us just standing there with our mouths open, asking each other, “What just happened?”  It was not good. Neither one of us could believe that one of our kids, to whom we had devoted our adult lives, would have, or could have, headed off in this direction.  We lived in denial for a long time.

There was a lot of frantic hand wringing and tears, as we tried to figure out what to do.  What was normal experimentation and what was really a problem? Our biggest obstacle was that we were not in agreement on how to handle anything. I was devastated and showed it through my endless crying and obsessing. Matt was trying to calm me down so I wasn’t a hindrance to the process of trying to figure out how big of a problem this really was and how we should proceed.

Eventually, after several years and many Al-anon meetings, we were able to build a cohesive team who can now face, at least on most days, the challenges that life brings to us in a healthier and more constructive fashion.

Here are some of the things we learned:

1.) Accept Each Other. We have to learn how to accept each other as we are. This means understanding that we are doing the very best we know how to do, and most of all, that our goals are the same and we have different ways of coping — to keep our daughter alive long enough to find a healthy recovery. It set us both free to process our thoughts with each other without the fear of criticism or verbal attack. After we accepted each other, we began to acknowledge that we are a team and no one on earth has our child’s best interest at heart the way the two of us do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Annette  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, Family members, getting help, Marriage, Shame  /  Comments: more



The Stigma of Drug Addiction
Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

One of the biggest barriers to patients getting help is the stigma of addiction. The stigma is so pervasive that many family members also resist seeking help for a loved one and for themselves out of fear of discrimination, shame from feeling like a failure or embarrassment from being judged by others.  This happens too often resulting in too many families destroyed.

Addiction affects many individuals and families.  But, it doesn’t have to be this way.  And it begins with sharing our stories, better public education and a broader sense of acceptance of addiction as a treatable disease (similar to diabetes, heart disease, etc.).

Read what these five parents had to say about the stigma of addiction:

this river

Susan: I have felt shame about having a child who is an addict. It’s one of the toughest emotions I’ve had to deal with. The ignorance of others; neighbors, friends, family, etc., is frustrating and can make you feel bad about yourself. I’ve found that reading the Intervene blog and going to Alanon meetings have been a big help.

Colleen: Family members and friends do not understand. They try, but society and media have them convinced that there is something amoral or weak about addicts. I get asked,”Why would he do this to you?” “Why do you allow him to live this way?” I am perceived as a bad parent by many, and I have been completely torn apart by some neighbors on a very public social network. My son is considered by many to just be a problem that society doesn’t need. I tell my friends and family, “It was his choice to try heroin the first time. That was his very bad choice. After that, he had no choice.” No one would choose death or jail if it wasn’t a disease. Anyone who can’t see that, well, they are the problem.

Ron: We spent years hiding from our son’s addiction. We denied it, we were ashamed of it, we tried protecting him from it, if we could have disappeared we would have. That strategy served no one well.

When we were able to overcome our shame we were finally able to take the first steps forward in helping ourselves and being in a place to help him when the time comes. We also began to realize that when people ask about our son it was because they cared about us and they cared about him. It isn’t fair to shut out these people that care for us because we are ashamed and embarrassed. I actually wrote a posting for The Partnership about overcoming your shame.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, Shame, Stigma, Substance Abuse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



Teen Drug Addiction: When Parents Blame Themselves
Friday, March 26th, 2010

How should one deal with the anger that accompanies drug addiction? I mean your anger as a parent, not your child’s.

I feel that there has been much focus on confronting the child’s anger that parents fail to address their own – that’s dangerous. The illness of substance abuse requires two parties: the parent(s) and the child.  Unfortunately, all too often the addict is MIA.  And as hard as parents might try, forcing their child to have an epiphany is awfully difficult. Especially as teenagers when they are often unprepared to accept the responsibility that an epiphany requires.

It’s maddening. Feeling frustrated at their failings mixed with the natural parental instinct to spare your child usually leads to anger at oneself.

To a parent, if your child is failing, that means you failed. Few people will be rude enough to actually say that. Our society merely implies it, like when a friend’s child graduates from college and they ask, So when is your kid going to college?

Self-anger becomes self-loathing, eroding your self-esteem. Sounds like the playbook to becoming

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Gary Morgenstein  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child  /  Comments: more



My Parents Never Talked to Me about the Dangers of Drugs and Alcohol
Friday, October 9th, 2009

Alcohol and drug abuse was an issue we never talked about in my family.  My father was an alcoholic himself, fighting his own demons with addiction. No one talked to me about all the insanity that had gone down in my family, which included the fact that both of my parents, and some of my grandparents, suffered from addictions of their own. Everyone just wanted to sweep everything under the rug and put on a happy face. 

The problem was that my insides did not match up with the image I was expected to portray. I was left to figure it out on my own.  As a teenager, I vowed to never drink the way my dad did.   Little did I know that I had a genetic predisposition to become an alcoholic and an addict just like he was — and it wasn’t too long before I found myself fighting my own battle with addiction.

With little parental guidance, I found myself easily influenced by my peers.  They were the ones I turned to for the guidance I was lacking at home.  I had low self-esteem and hadn’t been taught positive decision-making skills.  My decision to try drugs for the first time was voluntary. I did it to fit in.  Maybe it would have helped if I’d heard my parents’ voice in the back of my mind telling me that I was making a bad choice, but those voices just weren’t there. Instead that first high gave me was a sense of wholeness and confidence that I had never felt before. 

I felt like I had finally found the thing that was going to fix me. My low self-esteem seemed to disappear when I was high, and the feelings of emptiness were temporarily gone. But after a while of numbing myself, no amount of drugs or alcohol could take away the emotional pain and insecurities I felt inside. Getting high just gave me artificial confidence and when it wore off I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness and fear of not knowing how to stop abusing drugs and alcohol, or who I could trust or turn to for help.  What at first seemed like a way to have fun and fit in soon turned on me and started to feel like riding in a car without any breaks. I didn’t know how to stop my addiction.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Lauren King  /  Filed under Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, Family History, Finding Treatment, Treatment  /  Comments: 0



Denial: The First Deadly Sin of Parenting
Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I couldn’t believe it when I walked into my living room and saw a marijuana pipe lying on the couch.  You’ve got to be kidding, I thought. I knew that my children Lauren and Ryan, then 15 and 13, had been acting out. Calls from the school, neighbors, and the police regarding their behavior were escalating. Still, I didn’t want to believe they were into drugs. But now there was evidence. When my kids told me the pipe belonged to someone else, I bought right into it. The denial part was easy. Unfortunately, this made uncovering the whole story that much harder.

Over time I learned that things were much worse than I could have ever imagined. I eventually discovered that Lauren had been on a constant high of marijuana, alcohol, acid, cocaine, and PCP thanks to the generosity of a 30-year-old neighbor who happened to like girls half his age. 

“Parent Denial” is a major factor in the substance abuse epidemic that is happening with our children.  In 2007, the National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that half of all high school seniors in America have experimented with illegal drugs, and about three-quarters have tried alcohol.

According to Dictionary.com, denial is an unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings. I know first hand how easy it can be to reject the truth despite overwhelming evidence staring you right in the eye.

But hanging onto denial can be deadly for our kids. The intervention I conducted for my children, as late as it came, was a pivotal moment in our family’s steps toward healing and recovery.  When I felt the walls of denial that I had been building up to protect me begin to crumble, I felt the sting of reality. Yes, coming out of denial was painful, but it felt good, too. I was finally walking toward the truth, which was the only path to recovery. My willingness to take action was the first step in getting my children the help they needed.
 
If you’re suspicious that a child might be using, look deeper into the situation. There’s nothing to lose and only our children’s precious lives and futures to gain.   

5 REALLY GOOD REASONS TO COME OUT OF DENIAL:

1) The truth always comes out in the end anyway.
2) Early intervention can help curtail a spiraling addiction.
3) Your child is also in denial if he or she is using.
4) If one of you admits the truth, the door opens for solutions.
5) Things will only get worse if you delay facing facts.

Posted by Karen Franklin  /  Filed under Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, Enabling, Marijuana, Recovery  /  Comments: more






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Welcome to Intervene. We are a community of experts, parents and caring adults concerned about our teens’ alcohol and drug use and have come together to share our insights, inspiration, guidance and help.









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