That urgent call from your addicted child can come at any moment. If you are not prepared with an appropriate response then you may find yourself, once again, trying to rescue him from his consequences. Here are some ideas that might help you.
* Practice saying “NO.” It seems so petty to deny the small requests.
He may ask you to pay a parking ticket he received. It’s a minor amount of money and he tells you he is just short of funds at the moment. If you are familiar with the “Twelve Step Program,” then you will realize that to grant him these favors is considered enabling.
You receive a call from your son in jail requesting you bail him out. He informs you that this is a very dangerous place and he fears for his life.
Your child calls again from jail and says: “You don’t understand. The food is so bad in here that I am sick. If you love me, you will bail me out.”
* “NO” is not a denial of love! Remember that the addicted child is wily and an expert at pulling at your heart strings, playing the “don’t you love me?” card.
Your child informs you that he has just lost his job and if he doesn’t pay his rent in the next 24 hours he will be evicted.
Your daughter calls to inform you that her situation is hopeless and she has no one to turn to and nowhere to stay.
* “NO” because we feel you are smart enough to work through this situation on your own. Acknowledging your child’s maturity and intelligence places the burden of those problems back where they belong … on the addicted one.
* Take your time.
You might respond by simply saying you need time to process this situation. The addicted child usually calls with immediate needs but it is not mandatory that you respond immediately.
Take some time and contact a licensed alcohol/drug counselor, your sponsor or a friend familiar with addiction.
* Expect the expected.
I learned to put suggested responses in my smart phone. When I received that urgent and desperate call, I could simply review those responses while listening to my child. Knowing what to expect has given us additional strength and courage to respond in a manner that was healthy for not just his recovery but ours, as well.
* Do not accept abuse. This is not your fault!
We learned that there would be many conversations that would not be pleasant, to say the least. It was during these times that our child would call when high and become verbally abusive. We learned to say “this is not a healthy conversation for either of us and we are hanging up now. Please call back when you can be respectful.” CLICK!
* Remember the acronym “F.E.A.R.” It means False Expectations Appearing Real.
Fear is what causes us to rush in and try to rescue our children but it has been our experience that none of our fears ever came true.
We learned to remain calm and not get caught up in the drama of the moment. We would simply listen quietly and pray silently for the strength to respond in a manner that supported our child’s recovery.