Having been sober for four years, I now see how strongly my heroin addiction affected my mother. Between the nights without sleep, the phone calls that nearly killed her, and the desperate yearning for me to get help, my mom suffered from my addiction far more than I did. Today I can see the truth of how my addiction hurt her and the everlasting effects it had on her.
This is for the mothers out there whose child is suffering from addiction. This is for the mothers who would do anything to see their child sober and healthy. This is for the mothers who fear they will never hold their baby in their arms again.
Your child loves you.
First and foremost, your child loves you. She loves you unconditionally and irrevocably. She never stopped loving you and she never will — regardless of whether or not she has the capacity to show it. She appreciates all the times you took care of her while she was sick and all the times you were there to support her passions. She remembers the gifts you bought her for her birthday and the love you have continued to give her despite her mistakes. Make it known that you will continue to be her number one fan.
Your child is terrified to disappoint you but she is too sick to see the truth. She is too caught up in the darkness that binds her to addiction to understand the pain you are experiencing. She may be afraid to call because she is terrified of the shame it will bring. Your child feels as though she has failed you, but deep down, she knows that she is loved.
Your child is sick.
Mom, remember that your baby is suffering from so much more than substance abuse. Addiction is a disease that will bind its victims by chains that are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to break. Your child wants to stop, she doesn’t choose to wake up each day and be captive to a substance, but she doesn’t know any other way. Her mind tells her she can just take one. Her mind tells her she is in control. In reality, addiction is a disease that manifests in the mind, body, and spirit of its beholders. When she takes one, she will take another — she cannot control her addiction.
Your child has no idea you lay awake at night wondering if you will ever see her alive again because she is stuck in the delusion that the drugs won’t kill her. She doesn’t understand that every time the phone rings, your heart races. She can’t even begin to fathom the constant state of anxiety and fear you live in each and every day. Her actions are not directed toward you.
I know that you hate to see her in pain, but for most, the pain has to become unbearably great in order to make addicts like her and I reach out for help. However, when this time comes, your child knows you will answer the phone when you call and do everything in your power to help. She knows this because she loves you, and she knows she is loved.
Your child needs tough love.
Regardless of how difficult it may be, don’t enable her, don’t beg her to get help, and don’t foster a relationship where unacceptable behaviors become the norm. Giving her money will only make drugs more accessible to her. Begging your child to get help will only irritate her and drive her farther away from you. Failing to make and enforce healthy boundaries will set you up to be taken advantage of. Tough love may be the most difficult thing you ever do, but cutting the strings that allow her to continue getting high will help her fall faster and get her willing to get back up. Let your child know you are there to help when she is ready, and leave it at that.
Take care of yourself.
Addiction is a family disease in the way it affects not only the person suffering but the people close to the sufferer as well. I know you’re sleep deprived, terrified, and anxious around the clock. You may be hyperactively trying to control the situation, but addiction is bigger than you.
Similar to when you’re on an airplane and the flight attendants give their spiel, you must take care of yourself before you are able to take care of somebody else. Take time to exercise, meditate, do some gardening, or even treat yourself to a luxurious spa day. You are hurting. You are scared. You are stressed, but you deserve to take some time to practice self-care.
None of this is your fault.
You’ve probably asked yourself where you went wrong. You might wonder if there was anything you could have possibly done to prevent this. You may be beating yourself up for letting it get so out of control. However, absolutely none of this is your fault. You raised your child the best you could and, unfortunately, sometimes there is nothing that can prevent addiction from swooping up a loved one. Regardless of the utter defeat you may feel, know that you are not the blame for your child’s addiction.
Remember that there is hope.
People get sober each and every day. Recovery is possible as there are as many as 23.5 million people living in recovery. Don’t give up, don’t blame yourself, take care of yourself, and please, know that your child loves you.