Today I have Heroes in Recovery on the blog. If you haven't heard of them, Heroes in Recovery is a movement started by the Foundations Recovery Network to help break the stigma associated with addiction.
Across the USA, they hold these really cool 6K runs to show that when fighting addiction, it takes going the extra mile to stay in recovery. I LOVE that idea! They also share stories of people in recovery on their website to encourage and inspire people fighting a battle against addiction.
I encourage you to check out their website, especially if you're in need of resources for treatment and support for recovery. If you're in the USA, sign up for the next 6K run in your area! Or join thousands of others and leave your story.
I'm happy to support Heroes in Recovery on their journey to break the stigma of addiction. Leave a comment below about your own recovery from the effects of your loved one's addiction.
Shame-free. Guilt-free. Just... free. (Doesn't that sound nice?!)
There is no struggle like that of a mother whose child is an addict. When someone you love struggles with addiction, it is nearly impossible to simply cut ties, especially if that person happens to be your own child. Chances are, you feel overwhelmed — your life turned upside down by your current family situation — but there is hope for a better future, even when things seem bleak.
The First Step is Often the Hardest
Like other mothers standing in your shoes, you see the trouble your child is in. It’s like watching a tragedy in slow motion. But you must clearly define what you can and cannot control in this situation. It’s easy to become trapped in a cycle of over-helping, bailing out your loved one, arguing or pleading, over-focusing, and even turning a blind eye to issues for which there are no easy solutions. It’s an endless cycle, addiction and all that comes with it, and you may have already experienced firsthand just how exhausting the pattern can be.
In all honesty, you cannot control the behaviors of another adult, even if that adult is your child. You may help prevent behaviors, but their choices are their own. You cannot make them stop. They have to make that choice for themselves. Even if your child is an adolescent, you may be somewhat limited in what you can do because you cannot watch every single move he or she makes.
That being said, many moms find strength in the things they are able to control. If your child is still under age 18, you may be able to enroll your child in a structured, inpatient rehab program. Many programs are designed just for adolescents with targeted treatment built with a young person’s development in mind.
Even Moms Can Take a Step Back
No matter how old your child is, it’s important to step back and be honest with yourself, to recognize enabling behaviors and to correct them if possible. We’ve all been there, faced with whether or not to bail a son or daughter out of trouble. Again. When push comes to shove, it is difficult to deny your adult child housing, food and other necessities of life. You may hear emotional stories from your loved one, and you may feel very guilty for withholding immediate comfort or solutions.
It may seem very counter-intuitive, but in most cases, it is better to step back from this cycle of over-helping and feeling guilty. If you allow your child to experience the some of the effects of addiction just a little (such as financial shortages or employment difficulties), you allow your child to face the consequences of her behavior. Your refusal to enable her may be what helps him or her understand that it is time to seek professional help.
An Intervention’s Helping Hand
If you desire to support your child without enabling, maybe it’s time to consider a family intervention with an experienced or licensed interventionist. A consultation about an intervention may help you find the words to encourage your loved one to accept help. With an interventionist’s help, you can come up with a solid plan for treatment, where your financial support will contribute to your child’s recovery, instead of supporting his life of addiction.
Interventions also offer an opportunity to clearly set and express your own “ground rules” and boundaries. For instance, you may be willing to offer your adult child housing if he or she stays sober and gains employment or continues working. Or you may want to offer your adult child emotional support on the condition that he or she is willing to accept treatment. In either case, a licensed counselor or certified interventionist may be able to help you determine these boundaries.
Healing for Moms Too
Finally, it is up to mothers everywhere to break the stigma associated with having an addicted child. You cannot blame yourself or take responsibility for the addiction of your child, adolescent or adult. It is absolutely vital that you learn as much as possible about the physiological and psychological causes of addiction. While addiction often appears to be a problem with willpower or willful choice, new research on addiction indicates it is a complicated disease with a number of causes. Each addiction is different because each body is unique, and all life experiences, trauma experiences and levels of emotional wellness are unique. [Leah here! This is my own opinion but for more related reading on the root of addiction, click here: The Biggest Lie about Addiction]
It does not help anyone if you constantly blame yourself or struggle with shame or guilt. Those feelings are normal, but they should not dictate the way you feel about your child or yourself in the long run. Those emotions simply do not lead to recovery for anyone. To deal with shame, guilt and other emotions that impact your relationship with your loved one, it’s important to find a support group.
In-person support groups are an amazing way to feel less isolated. If you are reeling from the stigma and emotional struggle of an addicted child, support groups will give you a whole new perspective on addiction. No one truly understands what you are going through quite like other mothers who have been where you are and have felt how you feel.
Support groups offer a way to break through difficult feelings. You never know what you might learn — new coping strategies, new resources, communication skills or even treatment recommendations for yourself or your family. Many mothers find a new type of family through support groups. Programs like Al-Anon and family programs offered through addiction treatment centers offer an outlet to openly discuss the struggles, questions, losses and achievements of life in recovery.
Above All, Know This
Know that you are not alone. You don’t have to isolate yourself during this difficult season. There is nothing more powerful than moms who stick together to help each other fight for the recovery of their children … and for their own recovery. And who knows? Perhaps your story and your struggle can help other women who are feeling just how you feel today. With faith, community, and a solid knowledge of addiction and recovery, hope is possible.
-Heroes in Recovery
Heroes in Recovery has a simple mission: to eliminate the social stigma that keeps individuals with addiction and mental health issues from seeking help, to share stories of recovery for the purpose of encouragement and inspiration, and to create an engaged sober community that empowers people to get involved, give back, and live healthy, active lives.
Share your story and read others here.