For quite some time I have been a firm proponent of drawing firm lines in the concrete with our addicts. That enabling is one of the most deadly of behaviors as parents we can hold onto. It takes time to move from doing all we can to try to fix our loved one to even understanding what enabling is. Never mind what real help might look like. This is truly a process and when we think we have that line firmly placed and the destination is secured we realize there is no real destination, just a long, sometime laborious journey.
Over the last 2 plus years of my journey with my addicted son I have vowed to him that he could always count on me for two things; a ride to a Detox/Rehab/Program, and a meal. Those two things were sure. And count on me he has. In the past year he has been in and out of nearly 50 (+/-) Detoxes/Rehabs/Programs. And there have been just as many times I have feed him or brought him a bag of groceries. My word is my word and he knows that.
Two weeks ago I posted that he had entered a 15 month program and that I was thrilled he had made it to day 5 . But what you don’t know is that on the afternoon of day 5, just 2 hours after that post he called to tell me he had left that 15 month program. When the call came; my heart sunk a bit, I was so very disappointed, as I had hoped that this would be the time. I had to choose my words carefully, I’m not an addict and I cannot for the life of me understand the mind of one. He told me he was coming home because…. And the reason (excuse) doesn’t really matter in my mind any excuse would be a good one to him and a crazy one to me. He told me he was on his way ‘home’.
My response was: I hope by home you don’t mean our house, because you’re not coming there. He seemed baffled that I told him this. He has been told countless times that he isn’t living in our home. I’m sure his thought process went a bit like this…
If I call and tell them I’m leaving the program, they will just try to talk me into staying. If I wait and call while part way back they’ll at least come to the bus station to get me, and will feel badly for me and maybe even let me stay at the house. (His excuse for leaving might make some mom’s heart strings tug, but my heart strings have been played out, no tug left).
5 days later the call came; will you take me to the hospital? Along with that came the request to shower and have a real meal. This would be where I would have to Up the Ante. They cycle of in and out of Programs was becoming a pretty “viscous” cycle that was going nowhere. It was reminding me of gerbil on a wheel, always spinning, stepping off occasionally for food, water and to relieve themselves. But always going right back to the spinning. I was starting to feel like a second gerbil on the wheel, that when my son stepped off, I would always be there to keep the wheel slowly moving so he could hop right back on.
This Momma gerbil will NOT get back on the wheel with or for him. I can no longer participate in the viscous cycle of in and out of programs. On the ride back to my home where he would indeed have a meal, a shower and a ride to the hospital he was told…
“I am upping the Ante; if you walk out of another program you cannot count on me for a ride, or a meal. You will be on your own to find them; it will be a three month wait for help from me”.
This is a drastic line I am drawing and a few well-seasoned parents of addicts have commented as so. But as drastic as it may sound it is my hope that before my son leaves the program he is in right now he will think long and hard about the consequences.
I am not a mother of an addict but of 4 children and a few foster children. My heart goes out to you.
The question everyone has is…why? The last 3 years I have been running a treatment program for men in recovery. And I still ask …why? Their brains have become damaged and they can’t make good decisions. You have to make it for them. The most important things I have learned is that addicts are experts at manipulation. They know how to pull on their parents hearts and how to get their own way. Also, parents become enmeshed with their child. They know that there are no consequences to their actions because this is the pattern you both have established. I wish all parents would make this decision. Most addicts don’t want to die…but they will if the cycle continues.
I support what you have done and I pray your son will get IT this time. Hold tight and let go!
Take care and God bless.
Donna M Zappin
Thank you Donna, I am holding fast and praying that he will get it.
A very couragous next step…I know it isn’t easy…I know it hurts your heart, but like I have said over and over…dong the right thing is never easy, nor does it always FEEL like its the right thing…This Mother’s Heart is with you.
Thank you, I will need you beside me ins spirit as I implement this. Please be praying.
Very interesting topic , thankyou for putting up.
When you made your promise, you had a vision in mind that if you did “A” he would do “B”. Your vision of the support you would offer was to propel towards the goal you thought you shared. When you change the rules, he will ramp up the game, likely already is trying as you have noted. When you make this announcement you can preceed the new game plan as one that explains your original concept was that if you promised to feed and transport him, he would promise to improve his life. Since that has not happened, he deserves to know the reasons so he understands his part in why the rules have changed. Does not mean he is happy about it, but the cause and effect rule comes into play here and will give him something to consider when he next casually abandons yet another opportunity for healing in a center.
Your example of the situation is helpful to me as I am on the fence about setting up my own terms and conditions for when my son is released from a legal timeout and I am wavering whether he can come back home and if not, when do I tell him that information.
The criteria seems to be that if what you have offered has not improved his choices and livestyle, you need to up the ante’ while removing your constant concerns and ineffective worry from your daily routine. I know, because I am beside you having my own struggles with caretaking myself and others as I deem appropriate and manageable.
Bless you, dear mom. You are brave for sharing and helping others of us find our way through the best path and avoid the potholes.
As he and I have moved through Recovery, his and mine, we have always discussed the reasons for which I have had to draw a line, first in sand, then later in concrete. Each time moving the line closer and closer, with each move closing myself and my home away from his drama. And yes, he is already trying to make a statement, he has yet to contact me since being in the hospital I don’t know which Program he’s in, and I am ok with that. I’m not going to fret over it. He’s an adult. I have two other adult children and we have normal parent/adult child relationships. I don’t hear from them everyday, nor do I know their every move. I am at peace with this. It is a process and I would never expect another parent to jump right in and do what I am… for each of us we move and draw lines when we need to, when we know its time and right.
Thank you for coming by, and for posting your thoughts and for your kind words. Sending you Hope for your Journey.
God Bless you and I know how very hard this is..trust me I do. In my opinion you are doing the right thing- I am no expert but have lived through it. Sometimes i wish I had been just a little firmer with Danny but I cant look back and change anything.. As long as you show love- a gentle but firm hand- its all about having your son recognize the consequences – and that there must be consequences or why would he change anything? I am praying for you… God Bless you and your son and your family
Thank you Maria, I am already seeing fruit in his life because I held the line. He’s right now in another program working toward getting into a long term program.
oh my i walk in your shoes i have been through 12 years of this roller coaster i have enabled many times but finally i had enough and gave matt a choice detox via hospital with a ride from me or 911 he has od’d 3 0r 4 times once having to be paddled 3 times while lying in a gutter in brockton to bring him back once found on our bathroom floor by his father another 911 call well he went to the hospital with me was called into triage never came out he told them he was homicidal, suicidal and wanted to beat someone up ” they know how to manipulate” was admitted spent 3 days in er went to high point for 3 weeks then to a halfway house now he sends me a message on facebook and says he can’t find a job and may be kicked out in a week which will mean jail. i know he is trying to help himself but can he catch a break not finding a job in this economy is going to get him kicked out he has been all over boston filling out applications is this ever going to end
Deb and Dave,
In the Boston area there is a great Recovery Help Program… called MOAR… here is the link to their page http://www.moar-recovery.org/ They can Help. Maryanne is an amazing woman whose hearts desire is to help see Addicts lives restored. In Brockton there are a few programs as well, STRIDE is one of them… if you call the Brockton Mayor’s Opiate Coalition they can probably direct you.
I will be praying for your son and for you as I know just how hard it is.
Sending you Hope,
I always appreciate, (and am inspired in my own journey/perspectives), what I regard as truly selfless, genuine efforts by parent advocates who have the desire to share their thoughts/experiences for the purpose of encouraging the increasing self efficacy and hope of others regarding the long road that is addiction recovery. In gratitude to all parents, and other advocates who give of their time/energies for the purpose of, and with the focus on encouraging/supporting others.
Food for thought: When an individual with a substance use disorder (****and, likely, a co-occurring mental health disorder) is not demonstrating improved health as a result of the treatment they are receiving in a reasonable time frame, for the individual circumstances, (i.e. inpatient/outpatient program or other therapeutic intervention); it’s very likely that the treatment approach, itself, is playing either a leading or supporting role in the patients lack of increased health.
Often it is an ill-matched treatment approach/methodology that is the culprit preventing the patient/addiction-challenged individual from gaining stability/increased health. It’s critical, (if the goal is that of sustainable recovery/healthy, rooted, authentic change), for the patient/person with a substance use disorder to fully embrace the spirit of approach/treatment methodology in the treatment program being applied. It’s beyond ill-advised (not to mention potentially harmful for the patient/substance used disordered individual) for parent(s), family members or other advocates to invest time, financial, physical and emotional resources in convincing, coercing, or, in some other way, manipulating a patient/family member into accepting a specific methodology that is clearly not yielding the desired results.
As informed, dedicated advocates we use our resources to ensure that we are fully aware of, and well- studied on ‘all’ (there are multiple) evidence-based treatment methodologies available and, then, we use that understanding to responsibly support and encourage decision-making associated as to which methodology or combined methodologies pair ‘best’ with the innate strengths, coping mechanism, belief system of our addicted loved one; thus encouraging/facilitating the patient/individual to take the lead in choosing the spirit of approach/treatment methodology/environment they believe will best support their identified reasons for, and goal of, increased health. This produces a best practices result that benefits not only the patient/substance use disordered individual, but also it benefits the well being, sense of peace and hope of parent/family member(s). In this way, the entire family collective/family system is strengthened due to the increased health and sense of well being of ALL its individual members.
****mental health disorder(s) such as depression and/or other range of emotional/mental health related neurobiological deregulation is a factor for most ALL people demonstrating a maladaptive pattern of coping with their stress/anxiety with substances like alcohol or other drugs. It’s critical to treat the depressive disorder or other mental health disorder in tandem with the substance use disorder.
With hope… and prayers lifted for increasing well being…. to all parent advocates dedicated to the goal of sustainable recovery for their loved one challenged by a substance use disorder.
By what you have written I can presume that you are in the field of Mental/Behavior Health, am I right?
Although I agree with what I believe you are saying here; that not all treatment styles work for anyone individual. I think one of the most important pieces that you may be missing is that even if a perfect match of treatment is found for an addict… nothing will change until they are ready to change. They can cycle in and out of program after program after program and until they get to the place that the desire to change is stronger then the desire to use drugs ~ nothing will happen.
Thank you for stopping by, for your words of encouragement and know that this parent will keep knocking on the door of heaven for her son’s health and long term recovery.
Standing on the Hope.
“Hope soars on our behalf when and where we can not. Hope is our truest companion.”
I really like your mention of hope, Susan. It’s a critical, clinical component in the journey. Our consistently-demonstrated, shared, genuine hope regarding our son/daughter’s ability to engage an increase momentum in recovery is an especially integral piece -really should be spelled ‘peace’- as we make our way, little by little.
‘Little by little’ adds up to leaps and bounds over time. Interacting in hope with our addicted son/daughter facilitates their coping ability in, and through, the change/recovery process. Hope helps them (helps us too) maintain that all-important fuel source required for the long haul that is the addiction journey.
In answer to your question: No. I’m not a behavioral/mental health professional. I’m an advocate-mom of a courageous son in long term recovery. 15 years since his/our family journey began…And, after multiple treatment facilities -inpatient, outpatient etc-He’s doing really well.
As parents, we have the power to influence a growing and sustainable sense of hope in our children who have a substance use disorder. In order to cultivate critical-to-recovery hope-turned self efficacy we, as dedicated/informed parents/family members, raise our level of conscious awareness regarding what it is we genuinely, deep-down-inside-the-heart believe about our son or daughter’s challenge/addiction. Our core belief about their challenge lays the foundation that will determine the spirit of engagement/interaction with them –impacting the collective family dynamic, too.Turns out, it was necessary for me to do some work on myself in that area. It was no coincidence that, as I did that work, my son gained momentum in recovery.
Ultimately, it is this belief/spirit of energy that determines the health of the relational dynamic with our son/daughter. And, it is through the relational dynamic- established/maintained, throughout the journey- where we have power to influence our son/daughter’s sense of self-efficacy, thus decision making by them on a day to day basis.
These ‘dynamics’ in the relationship, these elements of recovery represent the complexity that rejects the well-intended oversimplification -the one that we all have been repeatedly exposed to- that would have us assuming that we are powerless to effect change: “nothing will change until they are ready to change”. This statement forgets to include a very important thing:That, as parents, we can help facilitate readiness. The reality of recovery is more complicated than “nothing will…until”. And it’s darn-sure way more hope-filled, I’m happy to add:0).
We can impact their desire for change way beyond that of our investments/efforts of focus on ‘boundaries’ and ‘enabling’ and ‘manipulation’ (oh my ;0).
I’m not suggesting that these things are irrelevant –they’re not. Realistic expectations, applicable supports, and appropriate boundaries (not rigid ones) do support recovery. But they’re not ‘the whole enchilada’. And, speculative attempts at trying to quantify the level of anothers desire for change/recovery for the purpose of determining how capable ‘we think’ they are in changing their circumstances is, mostly, a waste of time, energy and good intent.
None of us cope exactly the same way. We each have a unique mechanism for dealing with ‘life’- its stressors, its challenges. But, also true? We all have the ability to increase healthy coping- no matter what our situation is, on any given day. We ‘get there’ better/faster when we are surrounded by loved ones/others who consistently demonstrate belief in/respect for our ability to improve our circumstances.
Our target (tandem to realistic expectations and appropriate-for-our-specific-circumstances ‘boundaries’, as well as resolution/management of our own concern/anxiety about ‘being manipulated’) should be to ensure that we are engaging/interacting in a way that sends a very clear, always-present message to our son/daughter -The kind of foundation/message that facilitates open, recovery-purposed communications: “I believe in your ability to identify the reasons that you deserve better health/better-lived moments. I have a kind of knowing/faith that you have, within yourself, (and, of course, always, with my love and encouragement) the capacity to define your path to change/recovery/healing. And, I just want to say to you that although I can’t begin to imagine, as a non-addicted person, what this, all, must feel like/be like for you…Even though I can’t know exactly what you’re going through, I will continue learning all I am capable of learning about addiction -from as many current, evidence-based sources as are available to me- and I’ll keep trying ‘the next thing I can think of/that we can think of’ that will support you in making your way.”
This consistent spirit of interaction/this foundation ‘helps them’ better recognize/access/cultivate their own, unique, God-given strengths (innate coping skill set) that will be used in their recovery/change process.
Now ‘that’ is a cycle worth placing more focus on :0) .
In much hope and faith- for us all…Keep on keepin’ on!
Again I thank you for your response. There is a wealth of information here and I will attempt to address a few notes in particular.
First is your use of ‘Substance use disorder” I certainly get the positive thinking behind this, but the reality is; its ABUSE. Our children/loved ones are ABUSING drugs, they are not simply using them. USE is when a Dr’s prescription is properly obtain for moderate to severe pain and USED properly. I tend to be more of a realist then an optimist. I don’t look at the glass as half full or half empty for that matter, I see there is water in it and I have choices as to how I use it. This term seems to me to sugar coat what is happening, maybe that in turn helps the addict to seem them self in a less offensive light… I get that. But truth be told (and I also tend to operate in truth) Addiction is offensive. (my opinion, as well as countless others) As is all that comes with it. The lies, the stealing, the manipulation, the violence, abuse towards others. ALL offensive.
Second I for the life of me can’t wrap my head around your comment:
“Our target (tandem to realistic expectations and appropriate-for-our-specific-circumstances ‘boundaries’, as well as resolution/management of our own concern/anxiety about ‘being manipulated’) should be to ensure that we are engaging/interacting in a way that sends a very clear, always-present message to our son/daughter -The kind of foundation/message that facilitates open, recovery-purposed communications: “I believe in your ability to identify the reasons that you deserve better health/better-lived moments. I have a kind of knowing/faith that you have, within yourself, (and, of course, always, with my love and encouragement) the capacity to define your path to change/recovery/healing. And, I just want to say to you that although I can’t begin to imagine, as a non-addicted person, what this, all, must feel like/be like for you…Even though I can’t know exactly what you’re going through, I will continue learning all I am capable of learning about addiction -from as many current, evidence-based sources as are available to me- and I’ll keep trying ‘the next thing I can think of/that we can think of’ that will support you in making your way.”
Knowing my son and a few of his addicted friends, I can no see my self using this language with any of them. Matter of fact, I have done just this sort of thing and have watched my son scoff at me and continue in his abuse of drugs. I have seen the most positive reaction from him when I draw the firmest of lines with s strong tone,laced with my unconditional love. Matter of fact my UPPING the ANTE has produced in him the best response to date I have ever seen! Not only did I drop him at the hospital, but when that hospital discharged him with NO help, he walked to the another hospital and got a placement within 4 hours. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I meant what I said.
And maybe as I said previously different approaches are necessary for each individual. Just as each child learns differently, maybe they need a different mode from which to recover in. But I know the approach you are speaking of would never work with my son.
I do strongly believe we need to do ALL we can to encourage them toward Recovery at all costs. Along with making sure they know we love them unconditionally. But that we can not accept active addiction under our roofs.
I am so thrilled to hear your child is 15 years clean. Keep advocating, keep putting the message out there, and keep helping parents and loved one get through this difficult journey.
Thank you for posting and for making me think hard about what I believe and what I know to be true in my life.
Because of HOPE.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see”- Hebrews 11:1
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