Dear Darlene

Advice to My Younger Self


Darlene holding a picture of herself from several years ago.

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Dear Darlene,

I know exactly what you are thinking right now: “We are good parents, and this isn’t supposed to happen to us! We go to church every Sunday and pray together daily. We spend quality time with our boys, we eat dinner every night as a family, we talk about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and we make sure they know our strong feelings about this. They have good examples of what drugs do to a person, as both of their uncles struggle daily with the disease of addiction.” Now you are faced with a son dealing with the same struggles, and you know it is your job to save him.

You may think it will be better to withdraw and keep the truth hidden in the back of your heart. Maybe you don’t want to be judged as a “bad parent” or you don’t want others to see Adam as a “bad person,” when you know he has made poor choices but is an incredible person! They know you are wonderful parents, and they know Adam is a great kid. Don’t be afraid of sharing your story with others. Each time you share your story, the sting will diminish!

Please don’t try to “fix” your now­-adult son. Only he can find the answers to his struggle for sobriety. If you try to take control of his life for him, you will become part of the problem and not part of the solution. It will only cause you heartache and will not help the situation. He will lie to you and tell you what you want to hear. He does this to hide his addiction and mask the problem. Don’t believe him. Trust your intuition, that voice in your head, that gut feeling!

Do not come to his rescue every time he gets into any trouble. Avoid supporting his addiction financially. This just makes it easier for him to continue to use. Do not pay off his debts because you are worried about him establishing bad credit. This will not matter. He will still end up losing jobs, having credit problems, and maybe even a criminal record. Illegal behavior is a symptom of this disease. Let him suffer some natural consequences. If he does something wrong, he must pay the price. Maybe the outcome will be different if you just let him own it.

I know it is natural to nag, plead, threaten, guilt, and even try to negotiate recovery, but this will not stop Adam from using drugs. It is as meaningless as the promises made by him. The result will be failure and frustration. Real change will only come from his own motivation. He will have a profound experience and find his own way to recovery. Support him and love him through his journey, but try not to work harder on his recovery than he does. Do not do things for him, but be a good example of balance and self-care. As you make positive changes in your own life, Adam will see these changes, and this will help him to move forward with changes of his own.

Educate yourself on addiction and recovery. Find a support group and talk to others that are going through the same thing. You do not have to go through this alone! You can find happiness in your life again!

Never give up on someone you cannot go a day without thinking about!

Stay strong,

Darlene

 

 

Dear Darlene