Is it a Good Idea to Get Outside Support?

Is it a Good Idea to Get Outside Support?

Expert of the Month Question's picture
10 answers

My husband is on the fence about whether we should go to support meetings in our community…he doesn’t want anyone to know about our daughter’s struggle with meth. I know I need to talk to someone, but I don’t know how to find help!

Answers

Dan Griffin's picture

First, let me say that I am sorry that you have to experience this kind of pain with your child. My hope is that someday, as crazy as it may sound right now, you will actually be grateful for everything you have learned about life and loving another as a result of this painful time for your family. I can promise you will if you decide to take the journey of recovery with your daughter.

If you and your husband did not have some concerns about your daughter’s addiction and what others might be thinking I would be surprised. There is a lot of shame connected to addiction – that is why it continues for so long in so many homes despite the incredible pain and destruction it causes. Add to that the addiction being your child’s and then it being meth addiction – it is completely understandable that there be concern about others finding out about your daughter’s addiction. In other words, you are experiencing what most parents in similar circumstances experience. You are not alone.

Many parents feel shame about their child’s addiction because they tend to think that it is somehow their fault. They have failed as parents. It is simply not the case. Even for those parents who, because they were stuck in the depths of their own addiction or someone else’s, failed in key ways in their parenting of their child/ren, their child’s addiction is not their fault. They contributed to it. They may have enabled it to continue because they thought they were doing what was best for their child. But their child’s addiction is not their fault. Any more than it is their fault for their child getting cancer, diabetes, or any other chronic disease. You are as powerless over their addiction as they are.

There are actually two different questions here. The first is regarding your husband getting support. The other question is about you getting support. While it would be ideal if you got support together by no means should your husband’s potential decision not to get support prevent you from getting the help you need to best help your daughter. You getting support will give you a common language and increased understanding of what your daughter is going through and how best to connect with her. As they say in the airline industry: put on your own mask before helping someone else. One promise I can make: only good can come out of your decision to get help – regardless of what happens with your daughter’s addiction, you will find the tools to deal with and live through whatever happens. I know this from personal experience having lost my father when I was twenty-one years old after trying to help him for years in his struggles with addiction to alcohol.

One thing to remember is that should you and/or your husband decide to go to a community support meeting everyone else is there for the exact same reason. Many of the people who are there felt the same shame at one point and have been able to see the experience of their child’s addiction differently and they no longer feel any shame about it. They have had their own process of recovering from the pain of a loved one’s addiction and its effect on them. The other point is that these meetings are confidential – what is said there, needs to stay there. That is a sacred trust in those meetings. You can talk with professionals at a treatment center, local mental health center, or find resources online to find a meeting that is the best fit for you.

Should either or both of you decide not to go to community support meetings that does not mean you cannot get help. There are plenty of resources out there where your husband might feel more comfortable – an individual counselor, a couples counselor, your local church or any other kind of spiritual center, and even online resources like www.intherooms.com, the largest social network created specifically to help people in recovery and their loved ones, in addition to all of the online resources here at The Partnership.

Living alone with the pain caused by a loved one’s addiction is just as painful – if not more so – as living with addiction because you do not have the chemicals to help deaden some of the pain. To try and deal with that pain, fear, confusion, and misunderstanding alone is creating unnecessary suffering for yourselves and very possibly your daughter. You will help your daughter to take care of herself and gain confidence in her recovery by taking care of yourselves and finding your own process of recovery.

kventim's picture

Please Remember you didnt cause and you cant controll your daughters addiction.
Addiction is truely a disease and i know if she had any other disease the two of
you wouldnt hesitate to do everything in your power to deal with it right?
I pray one day No parent has to feel the stigma and shame that addiction carries

redwatermelon's picture

You wrote a while ago, not sure what you decided but I wanted to share my experience. We felt ashamed of our son's addiction for a long time so we didn't tell a soul. Finally we started sharing with othera - amazingly enough, there are others out there with the same problem! There are others out there that care and want to help. So, my husband and I finally went to an na meeting but didn't like it so we never went back. My sister-in-law talked me into going to an aa meeting by myself. I finally went and I really am liking the help/support I get! My husband is fine with me going but is not ready to go too. That's his decision. If you go and find a peace from the "free therapy" you get from being there maybe he'll decide to go too. And I must add, there isn't a single person in the aa meeting that I attend who I have ever seen before so it's still kind of a secret as to who I or my son am.

dabaalice's picture

We are beginning our journey of confronting our son today. I am grateful for this website and those willing to share of their experiences.
Fondly~
Dabaalice

Tina111's picture

Living alone with the pain caused by a loved one’s addiction is just as painful – if not more so – as living with addiction because you do not have the chemicals to help deaden some of the pain. To try and deal with that pain, fear, confusion, and misunderstanding alone is creating unnecessary suffering for yourselves and very possibly your daughter. You will help your daughter to take care of herself and gain confidence in her recovery by taking care of yourselves and finding your own process of recovery.

Wilston's picture

Lots of parents think disgrace about their child’s addiction as they tend to feel that it is someway their fault. They have unsuccessful as parents.in these conditions it is good to find outside help

jafyesor's picture

There are actually two different questions here. The first is regarding your husband getting support. The other question is about you getting support. While it would be ideal if you got support together by no means should your husband’s potential decision not to get support prevent you from getting the help you need to best help your daughter. You getting support will give you a common language and increased understanding of what your daughter is going through and how best to connect with her. As they say in the airline industry: put on your own mask before helping someone else. One promise I can make: only good can come out of your decision to get help – regardless of what happens with your daughter’s addiction, you will find the tools to deal with and live through whatever happens. I know this from personal experience having lost my father when I was twenty-one years old after trying to help him for years in his struggles with addiction to alcohol.

Songbird's picture

One size peer support will not ever help all parents. Please make sure you are investing your time and energy in those resources/peer supports that help you problem solve and build coping skills for YOUR individual circumstances.

If you are engaging in gatherings/meetings with other parents of addicted children, and the meeting frame/structure is limited to 'venting' about all the bad things that are happening (i.e. all the bad things your child's addiction related choices have done 'to you', all the heartbreaking, agonizing disappointments that you experience' all the while comparing those hardships to other parent peers hardships or what is, in effect, 'the telling of/sharing of war stories' etc..) you're likely in the wrong place.

Equally, if your peer support gatherings have what seems like a never-ending supply, thus 'co-dependency, on cliches and sayings, you're likely not learning anything of real value in terms of practical, usable tools for the challenges presented in the addiction journey- if, that is, your defined goal: To help yourself advocate on behalf of your son/daughter and cope better and better effectively with/deal better and better effectively with the actual challenges that come with addiction... all the while helping your addicted child to their discovery of their innate coping skill set, sense of self efficacy. It can be done. You can help yourself AND your addicted son/daughter...and you really should avoid so-called peer supports that would have you believing that you must allow your addicted son/daughter to 'hit bottom'...or believing that some other so-called 'tough love' response to your addicted loved one's choices as being the answer to the problems/challenges you face in the addiction journey.
Here's the thing: Sayings and cliches can be inspiring...and that's great. We all benefit from feeling inspired. I use words of inspiration and hope to help myself along, through life challenge. I believe many people do. But sayings, and commonly used cliches about the addiction journey, especially if they are negative and stigmatizing, won't 'teach/train you' how to facilitate TANGIBLE change for your circumstances....much less will they actually result in you feel empowered about your circumstances. We are not powerless to elicit positive change regarding the very difficult challenges we face as parents of kids with an addiction to alcol/and or drugs. But you can count on limiting your own ability to problem solve and your own ability to sustain hope through the difficulties if you subscribe to 'can'ts, and didn'ts and coulda, shoulda wouldas'.

A menu of healthy, evidence-based options for support is what will result in your ability to engage your innate ability to begin to change your circumstances for the better...little by little. Recovery is a process. It takes time - A long time in many cases. Think: Persistence NOT Insistence. You'll get there.

Something else that has helped me in my personal journey is my faith. But, faith, alone, did not teach me how to put into action those things that ultimately resulted in recovery for my son, peace, hope and strengthened relationships with my family members, thus better lived moments for us all.

My son is in long term recovery. This is the support resource frame that helped me/my son/my family the most: A support frame based on Motivational Interviewing (MI) -cognitive behaviorally based helps, CRAFT (Community Family Reinforcement Training) that is gaining ground as the "GO TO" for support for individuals and families dealing with addiction. SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) RECOVERY FRIENDS AND FAMILY uses these evidence-based helps to facilitate you in gaining momentum in and through recovery. It includes online meetings and many tools and resources that are absolutely invaluable. www.smartrecovery.org/resources/family.htm

12 step philosophy provided 'some amount' of help in the early part of the journey, 15 years ago, before there were really any other options for support for us to investigate/vet. But, we realize, now, with clarity provided by hindsight and experience, that the sense of 'help' that 12 step-based peer support provided was limited to a somewhat short-lived satisfaction via a sense of 'group acceptance'. You know... That sense of "Oh, thank God. Other people are going through this too". But as we educated ourselves about the biological, psychological, sociological elements related to addiction, we needed more than just a place to go to vent about our hardships, or a place to gather in order to receive that sense of others 'accepting' us. Though those things were helpful, they did not provide PRACTICAL help...or a more targeted kind of support that served our creative problem solving for our circumstances.

No two people, no two families cope with challenge, their emotions, their feelings in the same way. While we do indeed share a similar road in the addiction journey...and that knowing helps comfort us in the reality that we are not alone; we do however need to keep in mind that one size recovery/recovery support will never meet all individuals and families need. If you are currently involved in a support resources that subtly infers or out-right claims that theirs is the only resource that can help you... its to try something else. Inferences that individuals challenged by addiction, or their family members are 'insane' or somehow otherwise defective morally or spiritually are causing more problems for you than helping you toward solutions. Be careful about what you allow into your brain. Well intended people are very capable of giving you very bad advice.

I'm not saying that yo won't benefit from participation in 12 step based philosophies such Al Anon/AA/NA.... or other 12 step based resources. But if after some amount of time, (based on reasonable expectation for 'your particular' circumstances -your particular family dynamic, your particular son/daughters addiction) you're not observing momentum in your ability to cope better and feel increasingly confident in your ability to advocate appropriately/cope effectively, and in increasing hope...if you in tandem to your own increased coping are not observing momentum in your addicted son/daughters ability to make healthier choices, little by little, then that's your cue that it's time to try 'something else'.

Addiction is the journey.Recovery is the destination.

www.smartrecovery.org/resources/family.htm

tobilane's picture

Our journey with our son't addiction is only a month old--but I can tell you that choosing NOT to keep this secret is the best possible decision we could have made. It came in stages--we chose who to tell and the appropriate time to tell them. Now our extended families know, as well as many of our church family, and we've been amazed and encouraged by how many people we know have had to deal with similar situations. This has made us stronger and made us able to get past the embarrassment of it. We still struggle daily with the emotional turmoil addiction causes, but we're so happy that we're not stuck inside these walls keeping such an awful secret, with no opportunity for support, prayer, and love. I hope that you'll go ahead and find a support system for yourself--in time, maybe your husband will join you. God bless.

Julie's picture
"When you first discover that your child is addicted to drugs your heart breaks and your stomach churns. What is happening, what did we do wrong?" Read Ron Grover's excellent blog post "Help Your Child by Overcoming Your Shame" http://intervene.drugfree.org/2010/01/help-your-child-by-overcoming-your...