Sitting across the table from parents and watching as they crumble and fall apart, describing the devastation their son or daughters drug abuse is wreaking on themselves and their families. is tough. The heart wrenching tears and the absolute hopelessness and defeat within their faces is hard to witness.
Many are at different stages of acceptance and some are in complete denial, they don’t want to know how bad it really is. When the whole truth comes out and it can take time, its soul destroying for them.
However one thing makes me angry in this whole situation - not one of these parents forced their child to decide to try drugs, not one taught their child to lie to them, to steal from them, to manipulate them so successfully they are now supporting their child's drug habit through fear - each one loves their child so much they would do anything for them.
So how did it get this far?
Sometimes there’s just suspicion that something isn't right. It could be denial or naivety (lets face it not many people are trained in identifying signs of substance abuse) as to what is happening right in their home. They haven't picked up on the amazing amount of spray on deodorant their child is going through and thought it was simply their new found attention to hygiene and wouldn't in a million years think their child is inhaling or “huffing” it.
Some parents are unknowingly enabling their child’s addiction, providing money for this new pair of jeans, that you never see them wear, that outing that afterwards you found out didn't happen but never see the money back again, paying back a friend for a meal the other week when you already give them ample money for lunches each week. The $20 you thought you had in your purse a few days ago, power tools and other goods going missing or levels of bottles of alcohol from the cabinet going down or missing entirely.
Your child's sleep patterns change completely, they isolate completely from the family, lock themselves in their room. Different friends come over that you think, what’s happening here? these aren’t the normal kids that they normally hang with. Friends are a great indicator of what’s happening in your child’s life.
Then there’s the manipulation when the problem gets deeper. Emotional manipulation that only a child can dispense, You think you know their button's to press? You're an amateur next to them. The call at 2am “Come pick me up now …if you don’t I’ll have to walk home and then I’ll get sick and it’ll be your fault" or "I could get murdered then it would be on your head” or “if you don’t give me the money to get my drugs I’ll steal something and if I get caught and go to jail its all your doing” they go on and on and believe me they can get incredibly elaborate.
Anything familiar here for you?
The only thing that helps keep my sanity in these situations with parents is that there actually is hope for these kids and more importantly there is also help and support for the families. Teen Challenge Tasmania is far more than just drug rehab, there are real people that understand fully where you are coming from as a parent facing this problem and there are very real steps that can help you.
If anything hits home with you then contact us we are here to talk with you….in the meantime if you would like a little more info on effects on relationships in families and addiction then contact us via the form and we will forward a paper written by a highly experienced and long serving Alcohol and Other Drug Clinician on the subject for FREE.
There's no shame in this. You are not a bad parent and this is not your Fault. You don't have to be alone.