Welcome to this workshop for parents whose children struggle with addiction. Although the material should be helpful to anyone struggling with this issue, we think it will be most effective if used by a group of parents who share the struggle. For that reason we have provided a “Group Study Guide for Parents” which is available here:
This workshop includes seven videos (2 hours and 12.5 minutes total)
What It Feels Like
Living with addiction involves broken hopes, broken dreams and broken promises. As a result, pain, frustration and confusion become a daily part of life. Sometimes the feelings associated with parenting an addicted person leave us in so much pain that we find ourselves unable to focus on, or even feel this pain. Feelings often become hidden and unexpressed. This inability to stay in touch with (attuned to) our emotions can result in reactive behaviors which are unhelpful to us or to our addicted loved one.
Play Session 1 Video [7:05]
What Does Not Work
Even under the least stressful of conditions, parents often find themselves wondering how to respond to the needs of their children. When addiction enters the family system, we can find ourselves overwhelmed by the dynamics of the addictive process and profoundly confused about how to be helpful. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous talks about alcoholism as “cunning, baffling, powerful.” Parents of addicts and alcoholics see this “baffling” dynamic up close and personal. It is profoundly confusing to be a parent of an addict or alcoholic.
This confusion can lead us to respond in unhelpful ways. We may want to control things and use manipulation to “help.” Or we may withdraw, become passive or emotionally cut-off to avoid the pain. There are a variety of unhelpful ways we may react to our addicted child. All too often we are unaware of how our reactions impact our addicted loved one.
Play Session 2 Video [7:36]
Addiction is not a result of bad parenting. Addiction is an equal-opportunity problem. It happens in troubled families and in healthy families. There is no formula for healthy addiction-free children. One of the best sources of wisdom about how to be helpful to children who are struggling with addictions comes from other parents who have experienced the same confusion we are experiencing. In the video for this session we will hear about what might actually help.
Play Session 3 Video [11:25]
From the Addict’s Perspective
The way in which addicts experience addiction is often dramatically different from the way people who love them experience their addiction. To the loved one of an addict, addictive behaviors seem obviously self-destructive and/or insane. An addicted person, however, may not have a capacity to see this self-destructiveness or insanity. And they may not be able to see how their behaviors are impacting others. In this session we will take a look at how an addict experiences addiction by listening to one addict’s story.
Play Session 4 Video [29:58]
Loving an Addict
Loving an addict can be very painful. Family members long to re-establish relationships of intimacy and trust. But how can we show our love for our addicted loved ones? We want to be people who have answers to these questions. But we often find ourselves overwhelmed by questions to which there do not seem to be any simple answers. We want a “formula” that will result in healthy, productive children. We want some A + B + C that adds up to sobriety. But no such simple plan seems to work. Eventually we must face the fact that loving an addict has had a profound impact on our own lives. We are in a battle in which our instincts are not helping us. It will take counter-intuitive actions to begin the journey to a healthier life. And there is no more counter-intuitive action than getting help for ourselves.
Play Session 5 Video [21:23]
More often than not, unhealthy family dynamics have become normal. Normal is that to which you are accustomed. Normal does not mean healthy. Learning how to recognize and stop our own obsessive compulsive behaviors is the beginning of a recovery process for family members. As family members become willing and able to recognize the unmanageable aspects of daily life, they may also begin to see the insanity that pervades the family system. Fear and uncertainty about the future rob the family of serenity. Life is out of control in many areas. How then, will the family healing process begin? How can a family begin the process of regaining a healthy state of mind? Just as our addicted loved-ones can find help in the twelve step process, parents can find serenity by working a similar program.
Play Session 6 Video [22:40]
What I Learned While our Son Was Using Drugs
Juanita Ryan offers an honest and deeply hopeful perspective about what is possible for parents in recovery.
Play Session 7 Video [32:22]