After the denial wears off there is a realization that, yes my son is an addict. Then the panic, what did I do to cause this. After a few hours, days, months of mindless thoughts it becomes "I must have done something wrong in raising my son, now all I have to do is fix it before anyone else knows."
Sorry, but it is a hard lesson to learn but it doesn't work that way.
Our son is an addict. Period.
We didn't ask for this. We didn't cause this. We can't fix this. It sure is easy to to write this but I think this is one of the hardest lessons of all to internalize.
Acknowledging that a person is an addict is easy to do when you see the pictures on TV or see the homeless on the street, applying that label to your own flesh and blood is almost impossible. But if you don't do that then nobody can get better, not you or the addict. This lesson took months to learn, I might even say years to fully comprehend. And every day there is a struggle of what he was and the pull to have that back against what he is. That happy go lucky 8 year old that you remember and want back is not there as long as this addiction controls his and your life.
Another acknowledgement that is very important is that our son and us cannot go through this alone. There are a lot of things that have to be done but I feel the most important thing is to acknowledge to others close to you that this issue is real and you need their help, personal and professional.
I'd like to express my appreciation right up front to some people. I don't believe it is humanly possible for them to understand how much help they have been. Our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our son's sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, a boss, some very close work associates that have a sympathetic ear, and many other people that struggle with the same issue. These people are your true friends.
When you begin with this family problem the natural response is to stay private. As a dad it is your job to shield your family from hurt and shame. I think one of the most valuable life lessons I have learned from this is people want to help you. The people that love you do not judge you, they want to shoulder some of the pain for you. People that love you before this happens still love you after it happens. The sooner you learn that, the sooner it can help dad and mom.
Professional help: counselors, rehab centers, NA meetings, NARC-ANON, books and internet. Use all of these to help you. Some may work for you some may not. There is no shame seeking out this help. If you walk into this looking for help and feel like a failure because of your child's addiction then you need to understand that seeking help is no shame. The only real failure in your life is if you chose to not seek every bit of help you can find.