Even though your child is an adult, the care-giving impulses you have used over the past 20 years or more don’t evaporate overnight. They can be hard to leave behind. The impulse to “fix” things for your child can be very strong.
This is particularly true when your addicted adult child is experiencing problems in life functioning. For example, they may have a hard time finding or keeping employment; they may have ongoing problems with the law; they may be in very poor health. They are often quite isolated from other people. You may be the only stable person your child knows.
The first instinct many parents have is to jump in and rescue the addict. Don’t do that. The only one who can save an addict is the addict himself. When you try to rescue someone from their addiction, you can end up entangled in their misery and frustrations. That will drag both of you down. Sometimes rescuing behaviour can actually endanger you or your adult child.
Rescuing addicts can also enable them to keep using substances or processes far longer than they otherwise would have. Remember that you should never be more committed to your child getting better than your child is.
Your second instinct might be to blame yourself. You might be asking yourself what you have done wrong as a parent. You may wonder if something you did caused your child to use substances or processes.
The truth is that addiction is a complex medical, psychological, and social problem with multiple “reasons” behind it. You may never know what combination of things influenced your adult child in their choices.
The bottom line is this: Whatever may have transpired in your adult child’s life so far, whatever the family history-- in the here-and-now, they use because they choose to use. They will continue to use until they choose to stop. You have no control over their decision to use; therefore, you have no responsibility for their decision to use, either.
Since 1972, the renowned Clearbrook Treatment Centers have been providing effective treatment programs for adults and adolescents who suffer from alcoholism and/or chemical dependency. Clearbrook’s rehabilitation program is based upon the belief that alcoholism and chemical dependency is a primary disease and that the suffering addict and his or her family members deserve immediate help.