The following are the 10 most important things I have learned:
1. I learned to allow my child to experience the natural consequences of his actions.
The disease of addiction must be shaken to its very core for change to occur and that is when the child’s consequences become more painful than recovery.
2. I learned how to respond appropriately to my child’s phone calls.
Every time my child called, his primary underlying motivation was to manipulate me into either directly or indirectly rescuing him. And every time I helped him I put him back into a position to continue his abuse of drugs. I would later learn to prepare my responses in advance.
3. I learned how to react appropriately to my child’s anger when his requests were rejected. I can now say, “I am sorry you feel that way but I do not deserve to be disrespected in this manner. I am hanging up now.” Click!
4. I learned all I could about the disease of addiction. I would investigate any situation that I did not understand or that I was confused about.
5. I learned that I could not change my child. I learned I had absolutely no power to fix him!
6. I learned to put my child in God’s care and to trust God fully.
7. I learned that for me to have a life I must grieve the loss of the child of my dreams.
8. I learned that having an ongoing relationship with a licensed professional alcohol/drug counselor has been very helpful.
9. I learned the importance of a support group like Parents Helping Parents.
10. I learned that focusing on keeping me and my wife physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy, is a positive way to deal with the angst and grief of a child lost to addiction.