Dean: Parenting a Child With Substance Dependency

A man shares his story of working through his son’s substance use and how the experience made him a better person.

“My son’s addiction and my recovery from it have made me a better person.”

I recently had a conversation with someone and uttered those words out loud for the very first time. Hearing them surprised even me. But you know what? It’s true.

I certainly would rather be living a more “normal” life, with memories of my son’s high school and college graduations locked away in my mind instead of memories of dishonesty, stealing, heroin withdrawal, and rehab. That said, my son’s addiction, his recovery, and my own recovery—yes, parents of addicts have to go through recovery, too—have turned out to be a blessing.

Being the parent of an addict has made me a more cognizant, sympathetic, empathetic, forgiving, caring, understanding, and grateful person. It’s made me appreciate the little things in life and made me more aware that I should live in the moment instead of worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. (One day at a time, right?)

This might sound strange to some people, but being a recovering father of an addict has made me much kinder and gentler than I was before my son’s addiction. I have also become passionate about helping people. I want people who are going through experiences similar to those I went through to know that things can work out. There is no guarantee, of course. But there is hope.

As I look back today, I’m so grateful that I was able to face my son’s addiction and work on my own recovery plan. I may have a few more gray hairs because of my son’s addiction, but I am emotionally richer because of it. And that’s not such a bad thing.

Last Updated: 12/18/2015