Mother’s Day is a time for sons and daughters to express their gratitude for all that mom has done. Moms are skinned-knee nurses, Michelin-starred macaroni chefs, soccer game chauffeurs, persistently patient psychologists, best friends and experienced mentors.
One of the most instinctive – yet sometimes impossible – roles mothers play is the role of protector. Unfortunately, that role is sometimes trumped by the tight and consuming grip of drug addiction.
Protecting Kids from Addiction
addicted to drugs or alcohol, mom frequently feels guilty and ashamed – not by the child’s behavior, but for her own inability to help and protect.
In addiction, questions such as, “What can I do? How can I help?” often have unsatisfying and discouraging answers for parents. In truth, helping rarely works, which leads to feelings of hopelessness, despair and self-blame.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day and reflect on all that mothers do, it is important to remember that there are plenty of mothers out there struggling through a child’s addiction. To offer some solace and support, let’s take a look at the three C’s of addiction.
- I Didn’t Cause It: Good mothers do everything to raise their children in a safe, supportive and loving environment. When dealing with addiction, it’s natural to want to blame someone: especially yourself. As a mother, you must understand that you did not cause your child’s addiction, no matter how you may feel or what your child may say. In the throes of addiction, your child may cast blame, but this is simply an attempt to justify addictive behaviors. You can’t control the decisions of your child, so you are not the cause of their addiction.
- I Can’t Cure It: You also cannot “cure” a child suffering from addiction. Scientifically, addiction is viewed as a chronic disease, much like diabetes or asthma. Severe addiction is not a question of willpower, so attempts to rationalize and cure the disease of addiction is typically a waste of effort. You can’t rationalize or cure diabetes, how could you fix your child’s addiction? Although sharing your thoughts and feelings, possibly even imposing consequences, are natural reactions, it’s up to your child to seek professional treatment.
- I Can’t Control It: Many mothers believe they can control, or manage, their child’s addiction. However, addiction is viewed as a disease because it biologically alters brain chemistry. After a certain time of persistent usage, the child is not controlling the substance; the substance - and its effects on brain chemistry - control rational thinking that leads to subsequent behaviors. If your child is biologically unable to control their rational thoughts, then why would you be able to?
Recognizing Addiction is a Disease
Watching a child, no matter the age, suffer from addiction is a heart-wrenching experience for any mother. While we celebrate everything that mothers can do, it’s important for mothers to remember what they can’t do.
Addiction is a disease, not a character flaw and, most importantly, it is not a reflection of upbringing. While mothers can help skinned knees, they cannot band-aid a chronic disease.
By remembering the three C’s of addiction, offering positive support and encouraging treatment, mothers continue to play their ever-changing and important role as mom – a loving and compassionate individual also dealing with the consequences of addiction.
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