When you first discover that your child is addicted to drugs, your heartbreaks, and your stomach churn. What is happening, what did we do wrong?

Our reaction is very personal. As parents, we take immediate ownership of this situation. We refuse to see this problem as it is– an addiction. We make excuses, we develop stories, and of course, we make plans to immediately correct this problem; all in an effort to control the situation. We look for someone to blame. Little do we know that this is an issue, unlike anything we have ever experienced.

Addiction is not accepted as an illness for many uneducated about this disease. For too many people, addiction is stigmatized as a weakness of character. As parents of an addict not exposed to addiction, we carry that stigma along with the guilt of our own questionable parenting skills. We cling to the belief that if our child would only make a choice not to use again, then this nightmare would end and everything could be normal again.

Parenting an addict should not be done alone. Addiction is a disease that touches all of those around someone struggling with drugs or alcohol.

As parents, we hid what was going on with our son and wallowed in self-pity. We searched the internet for solutions and read books and articles. No matter how many times we searched and tried to help, nothing seemed to work. Our son continued to use and we experienced more stress and more shame.

Finally, in desperation, we visited a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. As parents, we stumble, we hedge, we mutter, “my son uses drugs.”

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