It is the sort of thing every mom thinks can never happen to her. But according to Dr. Kima Joy Taylor, director of the CATG Initiative via drugfree.org:
Drug use is on the rise in this country and 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs. That’s approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 – roughly equal to the entire population of Texas.
That represents 23.5 million American moms that at some point in their lives, had to deal with the reality of having a kid who was addicted to a mind and life altering chemical.
To be sure, no one sets out to be addicted to drugs and alcohol. No one ever believes it can happen to them. And no proud mother ever looked at her precious little angel and predicted that beautiful baby would grow up to be an addict.
That kind of disappointment is hard to put into words. There are all kinds of negative emotions wrapped up in that reality. Here is a brief look at some of those emotions, and what other moms can do to be a pillar of support when it is needed the most:
Provide Her with Helpful Resources
A typical mother already wears far too many hats for one person. She is already under a lot of pressure in the best of circumstances. A young adult child living at home does not just add to the pressure but multiplies it.
Rather than encouraging her to bear all that responsibility with dignity, provide her with resources like substance abuse rehab for young adults. Help her find facilities in her area that can take the load of rehab and counseling off her shoulders, and even provide her with additional support for herself. A mom in crisis does not need more courage to face the coming storm. She needs professional assistance.
Don’t Let Her Drown in Guilt
Some churches provide excellent support in situations like these. Others drown a person in a sense of moral failure. What guilt systems don’t take into account is that sometimes you can do everything right, and things still end up going horribly wrong.
You can talk with your teenager about alcohol consumption, move to the best possible neighborhoods, be involved in the child’s life without being overbearing, and be a perfect role model. Even so, your teenager is a human individual, not an automaton.
Guilt can create a paralyzing feedback loop that can lead to depression and worse. The conviction that one can do nothing right often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Friends don’t let friends drift into that dark place if they can do something about it.
Life Goes on
After realizing there is a problem with one of her children, one of the worst things that happens to a mom is that she develops tunnel vision. She can only focus on that problem. Everything else fades away into the periphery. This can be disastrous to family health, as she might have a spouse and other children that suffer from her emotional absence.
Other moms need to help her process her guilt and find useful resources so that she can reengage with the world around her. The last thing she needs to deal with is a marriage on the rocks, and the downward spiral of her other children.
For life to go on, grief must be temporary and well managed. It also must give way to hope and optimism. Addiction does not have to be the end of the world. Recovery is possible. A mom might need to be reminded of this by her friends. She can’t afford the luxury of checking out. Life is too precious. And like the show, it must go on.
When one member of the family experiments with drugs and alcohol, the whole family does. And when that one family member becomes addicted, the whole family does. Everything changes for everyone. And everyone needs the support of one another and the community.
The mistake is thinking that one person’s addiction does not affect you. It does. This is especially true for moms. Her addicted child needs the support of rehab professionals. She needs the support of friends who will not let her drown in guilt, and who remind her that life goes on.