If your child has just begun a drug treatment program, you are likely experiencing a sense of relief and newly restored hopefulness. At the same time, you know that you still have a long road ahead, and it can be difficult to remain strong and optimistic after you have already been through so much. At this crucial moment in your child’s recovery, it’s essential to find ways to manage your own stress level so you can continue to be the rock that your addicted child needs during this challenging time. From one parent to another, here are some ways to find balance while supporting your son or daughter through treatment:
Connect with other parents of addicted children: Being the parent of an addicted child is extremely isolating. It often feels as though everyone but us has a happy, thriving family. The truth, though, is that there are many parents out there going through exactly the same challenges we are. Organizations like Narcotics Anonymous and many treatment centers offer support groups where parents like us can get to know one another and share our stories.
Learn as much as you can about your child’s condition: Knowledge is power. Reading up on substance abuse disorders and their treatment will help you to feel more in control of the situation. The more you know about addiction, the better you will be able to understand what your child is going through and to advocate for him to receive the best care possible. Many local libraries and most bookstores offer a large selection of educational materials designed for parents and family members of people struggling with addiction.
Allow yourself a break from worrying: As parents of addicted children, we are prone to find ourselves thinking about our children’s conditions from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. This can be incredibly physically and emotionally draining. Not only does it wreak havoc on our personal and professional lives, but it can also reduce our ability to remain patient and supportive of our children during their treatment. In order to preserve our emotional strength, it’s important to allow ourselves a few hours every day to put our worries on the shelf and to do things that make us happy, like reading a good book, going on a date with our partner or taking a walk in the park.
Spend quality time with your child without talking about his addiction: It’s natural to want to use every opportunity we can to encourage our children’s sobriety and to inquire about the progress of their treatment. Focusing too much on the addiction can, however, have the unwanted effect of making all of our interactions with our children stressful and intense, and can prevent us from being able to see beyond our current situation. Rather than let your child’s addiction take over your relationship, make a point of spending time together and having fun just like you used to. This will help both of you to begin to envision a life after addiction when things have returned to normal.
Supporting your child through drug treatment will be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding experiences of your life. These tips and tricks will help you to find strength and balance on the road ahead.