Loving without enabling
One of the biggest challenges we've faced, while learning about drug addiction, is how to find the right balance as parents in the life of our drug addicted adult child. It's very, very hard to truly embrace the truth that, in the words of a substance abuse counselor, "we may not give our daughter so much as a quarter to use in a washing machine". No groceries, no rent money, no car to use - nada, because every item paid for enables the addict to use that much more of their own money for drugs!
Those words knocked our socks off; we'd not thought of it that way. We thought we were being good parents by not providing any cash but by helping our newly sober daughter with some food and initial rent paid. We found an old clunker for her to drive to classes, encouraging her to earn the right to a better vehicle through ongoing sobriety. What that clunker actually provided was access to her dealer and to relapse in short order.
So what can we parents do to show our love? How can we live our love for our drug addicted adult child?
- By being available to listen and talk, anytime
- By being proud of, and loving, the person we know she/he is, while hating the addiction
- By being welcoming, with an open door policy as long as drugs aren't used in our home.
- By reading, researching, and talking with substance abuse professionals, with the goal being to have some strategies available for the day our addicted child asks us for help.