You know the feeling: When you finally see a light at the end of the tunnel for your adult child struggling with addiction. It may happen after a crisis that lands them in jail or rehab, or their current sobriety may be a choice they’ve made on their own.
This is it, you think. This is when the nightmare ends and your child will finally be back to who you remember them being. You have the mental space to think about yourself, and put your own life in order after being there constantly for your child. As a result you back off and spend your energy elsewhere.
But then they come home from jail or rehab, clean and sober but not necessarily in recovery, and this is an important distinction to make. It’s not enough for them to simply not do drugs or drink alcohol; they need to be active in their ongoing choice to stay sober. However, just as they need to learn how to manage life’s challenges without using substances, so too do you need to learn how to support them.
How will I know that I need to change my approach when they choose recovery?
Wait — I thought this was it. Why isn’t my child continuing to choose recovery?
It can be easy to take your foot off the brake and assume everything will be okay when your child is clean and sober. You may have even tried that before, only to have your child relapse, leading your family right back into a dangerous cycle. You may have tried these strategies, too:
Method 1: When HE takes a break, YOU take a break. When your child's behavior settles down, you use that as an excuse/opportunity to be less concerned. You try your best to force life back to normal.
Method 2: Hope for the best. You put this out of your mind, even though you know that you’ve seen these temporary reprieves in the past. After all, there is always hope that “this” is the time that this will end.
It’s time to try a new approach.
When your child is clean and sober, you feel safe from your child’s addiction — which isn’t predictable or controllable. The bare truth is that you’ll likely face the same issues again at some point throughout the substance use and recovery journey.
Use this time instead to your advantage. Gain the clarity you need to get to a clear understanding about what your own priorities are, what boundaries are right for you, how you want to live the rest of your life. Use this time to empower yourself; to grow yourself; to move forward on your own journey.
Because make no mistake, we parents are on our own recovery journey as well. And the more work we do on ourselves, the more likely our child is to achieve and remain in long-term recovery.
While it may feel like the tough times are over, and while that could be true for now, prepare yourself for the likely return of some of these issues.
Here’s why you need this time to focus.
Most addicts relapse, and often more than once. It may take days or months, but it can also happen years later. You need to prepare for that possibility. Now is the time to do that, while you have the mental and emotional real estate to do so.
Clean/sober is something that a person can be forced to do - get the substance of their system. That is the easier part. The mental work of recovery takes sustained effort and many people do not do it. You need to prepare for the addictive behaviors to continue even after the substance is out of their system. You need to prepare for how you will respond.
Often, an addict will enter recovery or rehab or jail because they are out of options on where to live and how to be. When this is the case, sustained recovery will not occur and you will be back right where you started.
Take this step today.
Here’s something you can do right now: Watch or listen to a small training from me, where we talk about the realities of your addicted child returning back home. Because addiction is not a sprint, it is a marathon. And the best time to equip yourself for what may lay ahead is while you are in a period of relative calm.
Sign up here for access to a recording I made for my students.
Ready to take another step while you have the mental space available?
Watch my workshop. I talk about the various options parents have to find the support they need to maintain this more peaceful state for you and your family. And this is so worth doing for yourself. YOU are worth it.
Watch This Workshop for how help ensure your child continues to choose recovery