5 Things You Need to Say to Your Addicted Child
1. I Love You
If you’ve given up all hope this list of five things to say to your addicted loved one because the first thing is “I Love You,” that is part of the problem! People suffering from substance use disorders commonly possess a maligned perception of themselves; dripping with self-odium and guilt, these individuals are devoid of all self love.
Shriveling away, or denying sentiments of love is a red flag your child may be experiencing these feelings- of which, serve of catalysts for abuse, to mend the pain of feeling absolutely worthless or useless. Even children who grow up in perfectly loving homes may develop similar sentiments of themselves.
I encourage you to look to a psychological diagnosis of mental disorders or conditions left untended to. We often don’t understand why we have these feelings, and it may be a mere instance of something gone askew in our biology– it was in my case. I can’t say treatment has completely eliminated these feelings, but it has certainly given me relief to address why I feel the way I do.
Driving home “I love you” is important to help keep your loved one grounded in a dire situation they may come to regret.
2. I Want to Understand You
One of the biggest upheavals in addiction disorders is people simply don’t understand. It’s not your fault if you’ve never experienced a substance use disorder first hand, or within your immediate relations- but if you find yourself in an instance where your child is suffering from addiction you need to understand them to help them.
if you’re lucky, you may simply tell them you wish to understand what they’re feeling and what they’re going through- but unfortunately, all aren’t too willing to be forthright. Some simply cannot because of the mental walls and barriers they have erected around themselves. (Trust me, it is no easy feat to deconstruct them once they’re up- even if we wish they weren’t there. Remaining reticent and deflective becomes habit.)
Helping your loved one come out of their shell may be as simple as spending regular time with them. Or you may take an active approach by watching documentaries, reading up on addiction, and coming back with your findings and asking them if what you have learned aligns with their own feelings and circumstances.
Please be warned those in active use, or who are just managing to not use will be particularly fragile to visual stimuli of active use. Essentially this means while you should watch graphic documentaries, your loved one may be harmed in doing so- as it will spur them to use again.
3. You Can Talk to Me (share your own vices)
Assuring your loved one you’re always there to talk is important, but unfortunately your loved one may not actually confide in you when they need it most (for various reasons, of which are probably none of your doing).
I know in my experience I wouldn’t talk to my parents about self-harm because I didn’t want to hurt them, or make them worry about me. It is the same with people struggling with addiction. The shame keeps our tongues reticent.
What helped me overcome my hesitation to confide in my parents about what I was experiencing were the stories they told me of their own demons. I didn’t know my mother had to go to rehab in her early years- nor did I know my father also struggled with self harm at one point in his life. I drew on their strengths and experiences to help bolster my confidence to confide in them,
My grandmother’s death ultimately spurred me to seek help. She died in my mother’s early twenties. Suicide. It haunts her to this day. And I never wanted to make my mother relive that. I tell you this not because I want to, but to encourage you to be open and brutally honest with your children.
My grandmother’s death saved my life. Perhaps the death of someone intimate to you is not in vain, if their loss may prevent another.
4. We Can Get Through This Together
As the parental device– even to those who are well over 18 — you need to take the reigns again, make the doctors appointments, and get your loved one to the office. Sometimes it’s not enough to merely say “We can get through this together.” Many need a hands-on approach to get their butts on the right path to recovery. I know I did. My mom made the appointment to a psychiatrist. I stopped fighting it, and I just went.
You may not be so lucky with your monster, but if you can somehow elucidate their need for help, you will have a far greater chance of success of a hands-on approach being effective. You may help facilitate this awareness through genuinely educating yourself about what addiction is from a scientific perspective, but crucially, from the perspective from addicts directly.
5. You Are Not Your Addiction
I can’t stress this enough, you must tell your loved one: You are NOT your addiction. All too often we fall into a quagmire where we are stupefied by our self-inflicted harm, we find ourselves unable to look to the future, because of the people we are at present. Helping your loved one see through the fog, and to the shining future waiting to spring into fruition is the best balm you can give to one who has lost all hope.
What’s missing from this list? Let me know!
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.