6 Ways to Care for Yourself When Your Child is an Addict

6 Ways to Care for Yourself When Your Child is an Addict

A child in the throes of addiction is one of the most painful journeys a parent can take. We grieve and we hate, thrash and obsess. We try to fix, control, and manipulate that which cannot be fixed, controlled or manipulated. We are a mess.

Caring friends may ask us, “What are you doing to take care of yourself?” This makes us angry because we’re not concerned about ourselves. We’re worried about our kid and we need to do something about it. Taking care of ourselves seems counter-intuitive, if not frivolous and selfish. After all, the sky is falling and we need to hold it up.

What would taking care of myself look like anyway?

  1. If you ever needed support in your life, it is now. Get help. Talk with trusted friends, schedule time with a therapist, join a support group of others parents…or start one yourself. Discovering you are not alone is both healing and it offers hope. Practical help can also be gleaned from other parents as you share your stories.
  2. Enjoy your other children, if you have them. It’s easy to focus all your time and emotional energy on the child in trouble, yet your other children, maybe grandchildren, need you. And you need them.
  3. Practice Gratitude. Keep a journal or make daily affirmations. Focusing on that which is positive in our life reminds us of the bigger picture, and that we aren’t just a compilation of our  problems. You are grieving, yes, but life is bigger than your problem.
  4. Give yourself permission to do pleasurable things. It’s all too easy to isolate, but don’t let yourself. Get out and engage with others, and do things you enjoy. Have lunch with a friend, or dinner with your spouse or partner. Go for a run, get a massage, play with the dog, plant flowers. See a funny movie and laugh out loud. Look at the stars, read an inspiring book, relax in the hot tub, play a round of golf or a set of tennis. Keep moving. Breathe. Engage in life.
  5. Try not to define your day, or your life, by what the addict in your life is doing— or not doing.  Hard as it sometimes is to believe, your life is bigger than this.
  6. Pray. There is immense power in it.

Please share ways that you care for yourself:

Author: Barbara Stoefen

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  1. My daughter is 23 and is relapsing about every 60 days. I see a therapist. I bring my husband from time to time. My daughter sees the same therapist on her own (my daughter will not go to group recovery meetings), and we have family therapy too. Our therapist is helping us define terms of support and boundaries.

    I confided in my Christian co-workers. I garden. I love on my dogs. I focus on enjoying my daughter as a person when I see her. I read. I found Ruth Myers devotional books that have helped me pray and journal. I have written down insights from Scripture and go over them when my prayers are dry. I am devoting attention to my health — different eating and getting enough sleep. I have prayed specifically and prayed generally. Last thing at night is knee time in my closet right before crawling into bed and among my prayers is that God will give me peaceful sleep. I have cut my computer time way down and turned it off to protect my prayer time and devotion time. I am learning to humble myself; it takes less energy than being prideful, it is a more peaceful way to live. I have a high-service, high-pressure job in retail and am learning that in my attitude toward toward others that “I don’t know your story,” so I am less judgmental and more open; this is easier. I am learning to name my own emotions. I am 58 years sold and I am growing. I wish I had more in-person, Christian fellowship than my work hours allow, but I was blessed with so much in previous years that I still draw from that. I try to let God speak to me. One night not too long ago, I was driving home from work, crying about my daughter; I stopped at a right turn, and heard God say, “I am the God of BIG THINGS.” That was a very personal experience that has helped enlarge my hopes and my peace.

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  2. Congratulations Barbara and Daughter! May sharing your story help encourage many others 🙂

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  3. Good article! I havent seen many resources that focus on the parents of children who deal with substance abuse. Getting help is very important. It can be a hard and humbling process

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