What Can You Do When You Feel Helpless With Your Child’s Addiction?
Your child is struggling with addiction. You have always been his caregiver. As a parent, you have taken care of him, helped him when he was down, kept him safe and took action when needed. Now that he is facing this very personal battle, you may feel helpless. How can you possibly take care of his needs when he is being ravaged by this disease? As a parent, the feeling of helplessness that accompanies the addiction of a child can be overwhelming and leave you with a sense of despair. You can’t fix the problem, but you can be there for your child and lend your support.
Why Can’t I Fix His Addiction?
You cannot fix your child’s addiction or cure him of it because addiction is a chronic disease with no hard and fast cure. You would never blame yourself for not being able to cure your child’s asthma or diabetes because you are not a doctor. You are not an addiction expert, a therapist or a doctor and you cannot treat or cure his disease. The sooner you are able to accept this fact, the better you will feel. That sense of helplessness will begin to lessen when you accept that your child has a disease that will require treatment by experts.
Can I Help My Child Overcome Addiction?
You do have the ability to help your addicted child. Once you accept that you cannot fix the problem, you can take steps to help him. Doing so will help to relieve those helpless feelings threatening to overwhelm you. In fact, taking action of some kind will keep you from falling into hopeless despair, which often leads to lethargy and inaction. Your child does need you now, so take steps to do what you can to help:
- Educate yourself – You have been blindsided by this problem and you probably have little experience with addiction. To better understand what your child is going through and what he needs from you, educate yourself about the disease of addiction. It will help you to have patience with him and to learn how to better support and assist him.
- Investigate treatment options – Unless your child is still a minor, you cannot force him to get professional help. You can, however, present him with options for treatment. Talk to your doctor about resources for addiction care and collect information about your options. Visit therapists and rehab facilities to get an idea of what is available and so that you can give your child the best choices when he is ready for help.
- Consider family therapy – Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family. Once your child has decided to get help, you can be an active participant. Engage in group therapy sessions with your child and other members of the family. He will find motivation in seeing that you and his loved ones are committed to his treatment.
- Build support – Your child is going through a difficult struggle, but so are you. You cannot give all your attention to him and forget about your own needs. Make sure you have built up support for yourself. Consider joining a support group for the loved ones of addicts. Also make sure that you have friends or family with whom you can talk when you feel overwhelmed and stressed. Support is necessary for addicts, but it is important for you too.
It is only natural to feel helpless when you cannot fix your child’s problem. You can guide him through it, though, and you can support him. When he is ready for help, be there for him and you will be doing the best you can.
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