Everyone has a story about a person in their life who has a drinking or drug problem but can never seem to get better, despite the best efforts of those around them. Unfortunately, this person’s story is often used to prove that treatment for substance use disorders doesn’t work and that recovery from said disorders rarely happens.
When a child, whether grown or not, has an addiction problem, so much goes through the parent’s mind. Some of these thoughts include, “I’m a terrible parent,” “What did I do wrong?” “What happened to my little one that used to play with toys and watch cartoons and was so excited about birthdays and Christmas?”
When a child becomes addicted, a parent’s heart breaks. It may look like anger or disappointment or depression or any number of things but it’s all about a broken heart.
Everyone has been exposed to alcoholism and/or drug addiction through a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor. Because of that, everyone has experiences, thoughts, and usually opinions about the issue. Probably the most common response I get is, “Isn’t it true that a person has to really want it in order to get better?” Of course, that’s not really a question as much as it is a declarative statement. Then the “you-have-to-want-it-to-get-better” comment is followed up with something like, “I have an uncle that’s been to treatment six times and he’s still drinking and using drugs. He just isn’t motivated.”
These comments and questions are all understandable because each person that has an experience with someone else’s addiction has often had a heartbreaking and emotionally painful time with that person.
Most of us think that people who struggle with alcohol and/or other drugs can just fix themselves. But that is not the case any more than a diabetic can will herself to become non diabetic. Part of the thinking that addicted people can fix themselves lies in the belief that they brought it on themselves, as well.
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