I just found out they are addicted!


I just found out they are addicted!

You suspected that there might be something happening for a while now. You’ve seen the signs. Late night arrivals home after everyone else is asleep. Inconsistencies in the stories of where their paycheck disappeared to. Bloodshot eyes and irrational behavior.  Then finally you get the proof. You catch them using or you find the drugs in the car.  This is a challenging moment for any parent. When a parent finds out there loved one is addicted, the grief that is associated with this can be overwhelming. Depending on the severity of the abuse, dealing with an addicted child can leave us facing the same stages of grief as when we lose a loved one.

Denial – When you first find out and the immediate gut reaction is, “My child would never do that.” “They know better.”  Anything to avoid the reality of what is actually happening. This is a protection mechanism for us as humans and it is absolutely normal when we get news that is shocking.

Anger – This anger is perfectly normal and frankly it’s okay for you to be angry. Just as long as we are careful to not allow the anger to push us into making poor choices. Anger that is directed correctly can be a useful tool in motivating us to make choices to set some clear boundaries. Anger directed incorrectly can lead us into sin.

Bargaining – This is that part of the cycle where we tend to enable. It’s worth noting that some will begin to bargain with God during this stage, with the thought that if I just do better serving in the church then maybe God will help my loved one.

Depression – Depression becomes normal as we begin to settle into the grief. Hopelessness seems to settle in and we don’t think that our loved one will ever get better. It’s critical during this point of the stages of grief that you find a way to connect yourself to hope. Depression is normal and it’s important to note that this particular type of depression can and will be temporary. If we don’t connect ourselves to hope this can settle on us and become a much greater problem.

Acceptance – This is where we finally get to a place that we turn our loved one over to God. We’ve accepted the reality of the present situation and we place the loved one firmly in God’s hands.  While we may never fully be OK with our loved one being caught in the cycle of addiction, we can take lots of cues from the story of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-32)

When the son decided to take off and requested his inheritance, he basically communicated to his father that he wished he were dead. I can’t imagine what the father in this story must have felt. Yet the father granted his request and let him go his own way. It’s not a stretch to think that this father most likely lost sleep, and grieved over his son. This is before our modern era of Facebook and cellphones. This father didn’t have the luxury of seeing a tagged photo from time to time to encourage him that his son was still alive. Yet this father trusted God. We don’t hear of the father sending out his servants to chase the son down. The son had made his choices and the father kept good boundaries and waited for the son to “come to his senses.”  No matter what stage of grief you are in, it’s important for you to find a community to connect with that can help you walk through these stages. As you move toward acceptance and a place of trusting your loved one in God’s hands, when they finally come to their senses you will be ready to throw a party when they return.


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