Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Is Support?

It is almost with a nervous anticipation I post this type of question, but I have never been shy or hesitant before.

As my son progresses in his recovery, even though it is in a highly structured environment I begin to contemplate next steps. What does support look like for an addict by their parents and loved ones? Support, enabling, love how does this all differ; and with an illness like this what really does help?

As I have struggled to accept addiction as a disease and not just a weakness of character I have wrestled with what is the role of a father or parents.

Treat me like a normal person is what I have heard from others suffering from other serious diseases. “Do for me only what I cannot do for myself.” This is what I have heard from others I have been close to suffering from diseases such as; cancer, arthritis, heart disease and other such debilitating diseases. These are probably wise words to apply to a recovering addict too, but I don’t know. This disease is not like diseases I have been exposed to in my past and certainly not something in which I have had close experience within my family.

I equate this to a homecoming, even though he will not be coming back to the family home, this seems equal to someone being released from a hospital after a long-term cancer treatment or something. Nothing is the same as before. Preparing the “home”, getting a healing attitude ingrained and preparation for caregivers. How does this work for an addict?

Guess maybe this goes to the control by dad but I seldom ever do anything without a plan. When I plan I prepare. I’m a firm believer success at anything is no accident and planning must be thorough to be successful. What stresses me is I know addicts especially those in the early stages of recovery are pretty much incapable of implementing a plan much beyond day by day. So my plan must be structured for me, but I have to recognize that the whole purpose of my plan is to provide support to one that is ill.

I’m not even sure I am asking the right questions but this is what has been weighing on my mind lately. This damn thing is awfully hard to flowchart.

11 comments:

Annette said...

Don't do for someone what they can do for themselves is a perfect place to begin. Living one day at a time is about all my addict can maange and all I can manage in my own disease of co-dependence and enabling. I can let go for today. I remind myself often, daily, multiple times, that I will not be the answer for my child. If I were, we wouldn't still be here. For me, stepping back and giving my adult child the space and the dignity to figure out her own plan has been the biggest gift I could give her. It hasn't created miraculous perfect results, but day by day progress is being made for now.

Madison said...

This kid was born under a lucky star the day he was welcomed into life by the two of you. He was blessed. You love him, that is evident. I'm sure you will get a lot of folks who jump in with advice. But, I think it would be different than mine. The antiboiotic for this disease is pain. Plan to provide severe pain swiftly unless drug free period. Plan how you're going to say this, how you're going to do this and plan to provide suggested alternatives to the use of your roof, your food & your friendship. This is not a disease that responds well to rocking and burping. I have had many drug counselors give me this advice and felt like slapping every one of them. I wish I'd listened years ago.

Syd said...

I like the idea of one day at a time. And I like the slogan Keep It Simple. Let him do what he can do for himself. Don't project too many expectations on him. Just one day and sometimes one moment at a time is all that's needed.

Lou said...

Do not allow drug use in your home. Do not allow drinking in your home. Insist on total abstinence. If you don't, he will find a way to "cheat." If you suspect there is drug use, there IS drug use. Do not be complicit with any illegal /immoral activity..not paying his bills, lying for him, closing your eyes to possessions you know he could not have bought. Do not give cash. If you want to buy shoes (or whatever) go with him to the store, pay for it there. If he comes home to live, charge him rent. Make him do chores. Be very clear he will have to leave if he doesn't. Have the car running if he doesn't comply, and take him where you have agree to before hand (shelter, bus stop).
Insist he have a plan for aftercare if he is at your home. NA/AA/therapy/outpatient treatment/Buddhism- whatever it is make him leave the FIRST time he doesn't follow it.
I didn't do any of these things. But it's not too late for you.

Dad and Mom said...

When he leaves The Center, which is part of the department of corrections he must go to a clean living facility, probably an Oxford House here in KC. He cannot come to our home to live.

Madison said...

All the better. Dad, I will pray for you. You have been a good dad. I say plan on how your life will no longer be interrupted by your son's choices. Plan it, picture it and live in it. If he makes good choices, follow Lou's advice. If he makes bad choices, follow Lou's advice. I like Lou. I honestly will pray. Lots of power in that.

ChaiLatte said...

You've gotten some great input, and I'll be implementing much of it myself in about 60 days...
Great post, you bring up good questions.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I am a planner to, so I can totally relate to the flow chart remark at the end. This whole parenting gig is not easy to put in an Excel spreadsheet is it?

I think you got some great input in the comments above. As I read your post I opened up my mind and kind of just let the thoughts flow. The one thing that came to me (and I may get yelled at by parents with more experience) is to balance not trusting him as far as you can throw him, with giving him a sense that you believe in him and want to trust him. Does that even make sense?

I know with Keven that he HATES that I don't trust him, but I don't and I tell him to his face that it just ain't gonna happen any time soon, but I tell him I believe in him. I tell him I expect the best out of him because I know he can rise above the statistics and overcome this and get his life back.

Its all so hard to deal with. Today my son is doing great. Tomorrow...we'll see. Syd summed it up, its sounds so simple but its so true that we can only do this one day at a time (which really sucks for us planners)

Anonymous said...

My son left jail 5/27/09 and has Prob 36 probation. He is using opiates again, I know in my intuition and my heart. He is trying to follow our guidelines (doing his chores, attending meetings, putting some applications in, etc). He is slipping every day though and it tears me up. I told him he could not live with us using and that he would need to leave, he said he had nowhere to go. He has no other family and our town is VERY conservative and there is not a lot of programs for addicts. We have one shelter and it is for the winter months only at various churches. It is killing me to do this. My husband (his step-father) is fed up and ANGRY. He just can't stand it anymore. Even with a plan, I haven't completely had the strength to always follow through. I am so sad and heart broken. This has been going on since he was 17 and he is now 23. His father and his paternal grandmother died within a month of each other from opiate use, he found them both. I guess it is the fear of his death that keeps me from being able to get him in the street but it looks like that is where I am right now. My heart goes out to you all.

hannah said...

Gosh, this is something I haven't even thought about because my son is not even at the admitting he has a problem stage. Lots of great advice here, and to the above anonymous commenter, I'm praying for you. I'm praying for us all.

clean and crazy said...

have you and mom thought of nar-anon yet? for you there is also a book by melodie beattie called "the language of letting go" it is a daily meditation, real good stuff, also she wrote "co- dependent no more" that is a word i never knew until i came into the rooms. i agree with lou though make him have a game plan and he needs NA meetings asap. and a sponsor.
it must be terrible anxiety now that it is getting close to him getting some extra freedoms. i know you and mom will find the answers you need, you have strong spirits and enough love to survive anything, and you have created such a wonderful tool here online for parents. prayers to you and yours.