What it Means to Be the Parent of an Addict

Parent of an Addict - Freedom From Addiction

"Now, you belong to heroin, almost as completely as your child does - the child to whom you always gave everything, thinking that would save her from this," a Boston Globe article explains. Having an addict as a child changes everything. As they are addicted to a drug, you are now addicted to their addiction. 

It's a heartache and break that the parents at Learn to Cope, a weekly support group in Massachusetts discuss for 90 minutes. On this particular day there are 34 parents, up 11 from last week. They share stories of children relapsing, kicking them out of the house, letting them back in. It's pain in its purest form. Lorraine and Wayne, who run the Salem meetings, have their own sad story. Fifteen years ago they had their 19-year-old son "sectioned" or forced into treatment by the courts. He relapsed shortly after. Just a few years ago he called asking for $20. His mother refused. Because he is an addict, he robbed a bank and was sent to prison, a prisoner of his own addiction clouding his judgement and actions. It's something Lorraine has beat herself up about for years. That is "until a friend pointed out that the hit he bought with her cash could have been the one to kill him," the story relays. 

 Another mother shares about her 24-year-old pregnant daughter who was sent to jail for domestic abuse. She has twins on the way, but she, too, is an addict. Her mother refused to bail her out this time. She already knows her medical bills will cost the family thousands and thousands of dollars. Bailing her out will add to the cost of already-drained bank accounts, all second, third, fourth, tenth times they have been bailed out before. While they share their sad stories, their fears, their angers, they also share this thought, "They're good parents. They raised nice kids. If addiction can rip apart their families, it can rip apart anyone's." 

 As America lives through this heroin epidemic more and more families are realizing the stigma of addiction is far different than they ever thought. These addicts are not junkies hiding in alleyways. They are their children, most former athletes. They are mothers, fathers, doctors, lawyers. And what they are finding is that through therapy, treatment, community, they are fighting this war together. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, find help here.

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