E– Even in my worst nightmares I didn’t imaging that my child would be a heroin addict. What I never wanted to know about addiction, I am now well versed. The things you learn about addiction or about how the addict craves the drug. How the drug begins to rule their life. How the things they do under the guise of needing more is not who they are but what they have become.
N– No one tells you what happens after active using ends, and recovery begins. No one tells you how you make recovery such a main focus, such an end-all-be-all that you continue to make mistakes. The same blindness you experienced during active addiction is the same blindness in recovery. The addict hears the message that all they have to do it is stay clean, and that is their only responsibility. They learn that you will take care of everything and do anything for them not to use so they expect it, and more of it. Kindness from you is seen as a deserved right by them. You have created a situation that is as bad as active using because they are never satisfied with what you do for them. It is never enough. They always want more. You feel like you are being black mailed with recovery- even though that is not the intent of the addict. You hope.
T– Trapped in a terrible situation is a horrific feeling. It’s a vicious cycle. The addict manipulates and steals and pillages for drugs when high, and then manipulates and steals and pillages emotion and support when in recovery. Life is never normal again. There is life before drugs and life after drugs. There is never a ‘back to normal’. The normal you used to know is gone and the new normal is a moving target. A relapse changes your normal. Recovery again, changes your normal.
I-Ignoring the behavior is a mistake. Facing the behavior outright is a mistake. Trying to be your addict’s friend is a mistake. Parenting an addict is impossible. Every move you make is met with indecisiveness and pondering. Vacillating between making rules, enforcing them, and wanting to give up because you feel the hate from the addict. When you start to hate yourself you realize, Heroin has won.
T- Tunnel vision is deadly. Narrowing in on the addict, in active addiction and recovery, means you are not watching, loving, living, the world around you. Time goes by, whether you pay attention or not. Other children grow, graduate, get sick, have accomplishments and your guilt grows bigger, wider, deeper, when you realize you have missed them.
L– Loving an addict isn’t easy. Knowing the difference between entitled behavior from a teenager that’s normal, and entitled behavior from an addict that is not justified isn’t easy. Do I accept the way she talks to us because she is young? Or is that outrageous behavior because I have led her to believe that she is holier than thou? Or does it matter, because either way you’re tired of it? Does the why make a difference? How is a parent to know? When a parent is already second guessing themselves, as bad parenting is clearly a symptom of teen drug addiction, how is a parent to know what the right thing to do is? If you fight with her, and she dies, will you die from guilt? Don’t you already feel dead inside?
E– Enabling an addict can be just as bad in recovery as out of recovery. Allowing them to not own their life or take responsibility for their actions, clean or not, is never a good thing. The things we do, the things we rationalize to be necessary, are the very things that could turn an addict back out.
D– Disease, disease, disease. Understand that this is a disease. Even if it doesn’t start out as a disease, it ends in disease. Mental disease, physical disease (HIV, Hep C) and collateral disease. The collateral disease is the mental anguish, the suffering, the intolerance of their own life that the family of the addict suffers. I hear about addicts that die. And I hear about how awful heroin addiction is for the addict, I am here to tell you it’s not picnic for the family either. The family is suffering, and hurting, and desperate but the question is how the addict is? Is she clean? Is she safe? Does she have food? Does she have a place to live? The siblings suffer the most. People ask how am I doing? How is AC doing? But everyone forgets that this greatly impacts her brothers. Her step-ish sisters. They worry. And get angry. They are part of the collateral damage. They matter. They all matter. How do you juggle all of it without everything coming crashing down?