Frances: Parenting a Child With Substance Dependency

A woman shares her story of changing her behavior in response to her daughter’s substance use.

My story is a different type of addiction recovery, but not often figured into the addict’s recovery. It is the addiction of enabling my addicted child. As a parent, the hardest thing in the world is to see your child struggling with life, no matter the reason. Before I could help her, I had to come to the realization that everything that I was doing to “help” her was actually prolonging her downward spiral. From intervening with her teachers and school officials to making excuses to family and friends, this only allowed her to become more enmeshed in her addiction.

The key was to realize that not only must she change her behavior, but I must also change mine. Once I began to ask her take responsibility for her actions, then a great weight was lifted from me. She did not immediately change her ways, but when she saw that I was changing, she became more willing to work at changing herself as well. The tenet that I did not cause it, I could not cure it, and I could not change it was the most important thing I learned.

Facing my daughter’s addiction changed my life as well as hers. Realizing that she could be that homeless person on the street or the overdose victim has given me more compassion towards those I know nothing about. Nineteen months into our recovery, we both work towards personal change, and even though it is hard, there is plenty of hope. My ongoing personal challenge is to share my successes with other parents so that they can also have hope.

Last Updated: 12/22/2015