As a mother, you instinctively wanted to shield your son from any harm — whether it was school bullies or the common cold. You invested years of your time and energy into ensuring your little boy grew up as happy and healthy as he could. Now that he’s an adult, he is no longer your legal responsibility, but you still want to look after him as he makes his way in the world. That’s why it can be so heartbreaking to discover your son has gotten caught in the cycle of addiction.
Your knee-jerk reaction to realizing your adult son has a substance abuse disorder might be anger or shame. Or, perhaps you’re scared or worried that he’s risking his future with his self-destructive behavior. It’s essential to remember that your son is struggling with a chronic disease, and he needs your love, support and understanding to seek the resources that will help him recover. Here are three crucial things to remember as you learn to cope with this challenge.
1. Addiction Doesn’t Define Your Son
One of the most heartbreaking things about addiction is how it makes people we love virtually unrecognizable. You may see your son lie, steal and do other unethical and reckless things in pursuit of his substance of use. He could lose his job or end up in prison, leaving you to wonder if he’s lost forever.
If you start feeling hopeless, keep in mind that your son still has the values you raised him to have, but his addiction is compelling him to do these terrible things. As the disease progresses, people with substance abuse lose the ability to say “no,” and their priorities shift to become all about obtaining and using drugs or alcohol. Even people with ample reasons and motivation to quit can’t do so alone.
2. Set Boundaries – Then Stick to Them
Sometimes, the best ways to help convince your son to seek treatment may seem harsh or unforgiving. For example, you could refuse to lend him any more money if you know he’ll only spend it on alcohol or drugs. Or, you could tell him you don’t want to see him anymore until he agrees to get help. Be cautious with your choices to ensure you aren’t unconsciously enabling his addiction. Your son won’t change his behavior unless he encounters negative consequences.
3. Get Help for Yourself
Loving someone with a substance abuse disorder can feel like a heavy burden at times, but you shouldn’t feel the need to carry it by yourself. Share the load with others in group meetings such as Al-Anon, or find a therapist who can offer you practical advice on how to relate to your adult son’s substance abuse disorder. It can be isolating to have addiction standing between you and your loved one, but asking for support when you need it can help you understand you’re not alone, and that you shouldn’t blame yourself for your son’s illness.
Men’s-Only Care in Austin, Texas
Once your son is ready to enter treatment, you should have some options researched to share with him. At Spearhead Lodge, we’ve uniquely tailored our extended-care programming for the needs of young men who are working to overcome substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. We can equip your son with the life skills and tools he needs to live a lifetime of sobriety. Contact us today to learn more.