Throughout my recovery, I have read a lot of articles with helpful advice for the struggling addict and/or their loved ones. One article I will never forget was written by a father in regards to his meth addicted adult child. In this article, and others like it, the main consensus was that you must abandon the addict. That no matter how much you try to be firm and helpful, any contact with the addict is enabling. The addict who looks like your child is no longer him/herself and will stop at nothing to get more drugs. The addict WILL, as far as these articles seem to say, steal your money from you or try to hurt you in an attempt to get more drugs. It is even implied that all addicts will abuse any one to continue using their drug of choice, even their own children. Sadly, the advice to family of addicts is to cut off all ties and pray they come back to you if they get themselves over the addiction.
I understand why this is said. My partner Lucifer is absolutely one of these people. A lot of addicts are. When he is back on drugs, there is almost nothing he won’t do to feed his constantly hungry addiction. I wouldn’t say he hurts children, but he will steal or hurt adults. On drugs, Lucifer is a shitty guy.
I’m sure I was too. A very shitty girl.
You know what got me past being that girl?
My family. My support system. The people who DIDN’T give up on me.
If my family hadn’t been there for me, I wouldn’t have quit drugs. My, bless their hearts, were my biggest supporters when I decided to quit and they still are. If they had had the attitude of, let her go and pray she gets through it herself, I can guarantee, I would have never made it back. Though praying is VERY important and helpful, so is actively loving and supporting.
My parents weren’t supportive at first though. My family knew I had been doing meth for some time. They did like any random white, conservative parents do. They didn’t like it, but ignored it and treated it like a phase I would grow out of.
My addiction grew, like addiction always does. One day I called my mom freaking out about something that seemed important at the time and she told me if I didn’t quit using she would come get my children. I told her to fuck off (told ya I was a shitty girl then) and kept on using. She ignored it.
My dad thought I was going through what all young people go through. He had done his experimenting and figured I was just doing mine a little later in life than he did since I had kids so young. He never developed any kind of addiction, so why would I?
Fast forward to me losing custody of my children to my ex husband because they drug tested us in court. My lawyer at the time, convinced me that I wouldn’t see my children but one day per month, under court supervision, for the first 6 months. The most shameful moment of my life was 3 weeks after I lost my kids. I hadn’t used meth since weeks before they were taken and I was craving so bad. I was hopeless and I felt alone. My ex husband and kids were all gone and it was just me now. I used cocaine on two occasions. One of them being my ex husbands wedding day.
My parents, thank God, decided during this time to jump in with both feet. They pleaded with me to not give up hope and that if I could quit using, I would get to spend more time with my children. They kept reminding me that I had to be clean and present for them, even if I couldn’t see them. With their encouragement, I fired my lawyer and they got the money together for a new, better one.
We went back to court a month later to appeal. My drug tests showed coke, and the courts tried to come down even harder on me, of course. Now I had shown repeated drug use, even though they were different drugs. My new lawyer fought like hell, explaining how hopeless I had felt, and how I had used coke to hold back my craving for meth but that I was very dedicated to staying clean this time and getting my life back together.
The courts wanted proof. They set up regular hair follicle testing, as well as required parenting classes, and a home study to be done on both me and my ex husband. I still had to have supervised visitation, but now I had them every other week for the whole week instead of one day per month (it was summer so easy to do one week with me and one week with him). And my parents, and their spouses, all got approved as ‘court approved supervisors’. This meant as long as I was around one of them, my mom, my dad, my moms husband, or my dads girlfriend, I could be around my kids too.
My parents were strict and ruthless when it came to my recovery, but it was the best thing for me. My dad had me move in with him and his girlfriend. If I was late getting home, even by five minutes, my parents were on my ass. 30 years old and for the first time in 12 years I felt like a child again. I’m sure I wasn’t a pleasure to be around during this time. I can remember freaking out on my mom, like screaming and throwing my purse around. I can remember just taking off running down the highway, dad and boyfriend chasing me down the shoulder of the road. I don’t even know why or where I was running, I guess I was just withdrawing so badly at that moment.
Did things go perfectly? No. Did I ever get my kids back? No, not yet, but I have them more than most non custodial parents that didn’t ever get caught doing drugs have their kids. Did I get clean. Yes. Yes. YES!
Would I have gotten clean if it wasn’t for my parents, and the rest of my support system?
No, I highly doubt it.
I don’t know how to protect yourself when you love an addict, and I’m sure there is not a one size fits all answer. It’s different for every addict because we are different people. But I think we all, mostly all of us, need love. I don’t judge anyone who has to cut off an addict, I’ve had to cut off Lucifer, though I love him so much. But I’m so very thankful that my people did not cut me off. My life is a testament to how loving support, and God, can give you the strength to overcome even the deepest affliction.
I can’t imagine how hard it would be to get clean with no support system. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it’s got to be so much harder. My parents, my brothers and their families, my work family, they all saved my life.
I said earlier that my parents did what most white, conservative parents do and ignored it. For the record, no offense to anyone, I am a white conservative parent as well. We know how our own people act sometimes. For some time, I was angry at my parents for not helping me sooner. I would be craving drugs and craving my babies and unable to have either, stewing about how none of this would have happened if my parents hadn’t helped me sooner. What kind of parents just let their kid keep doing drugs?
As my head became clearer and clearer in recovery, I came to understand that this was my fault, not theirs. I made these horrible mistakes, yet I expect perfection from my parents and family in dealing with MY errors? How does that make sense. Did my parents act perfectly when they found out I was using? No. But what they hell would I have done if it was my child? Would I know exactly what to do? Would I make mistakes in my handling of the situation. Probably. My parents did what they thought was best at the time. And then, and this is something I will never forget, when they realized what they were doing wasn’t working, they changed strategies. They got closer to the problem, not further. They sacrificed in every way to get me clean. I’ll never stop being thankful to them for stepping outside of their comfort zone to do what needed to be done for me.
Cause and Effect. It took two causes to get one effect. The effect was me getting clean. The causes were losing the most important part of my life (my kids) and then having the support to help me back on my feet, both materialistically and emotionally (my family).
If you love an addict, you may have to detach and let them fall. You have to do it to protect yourself and to let them hit rock bottom. But then, be there to help them back up. Remind them they are loved and that there is something worth coming back to. It’s so easy to stay at rock bottom when you are alone.