My Son Is A Drug Addict: When Is It Time To Let Go?

Letting go of a drug addict son can feel like giving up, but it is not quite so. Many parents wonder about how to let go of an addict you love when this endeavor seems too painful to take. Understand when it is time to turn the page, yet still remain hopeful in their addiction recovery.

The discovery of a child’s addiction can be one of the most painful heartbreaks as a parent. We envision our children growing up living a life that is even better than our own–but these hopes and expectations come crashing down at the clutches of substance abuse.

The truth is, the pain and challenges of this predicament don’t stop at the discovery of addiction. It goes on to continue until your child decides to get treatment. However, what if this request is met with statements of denial or even rebellion on your child’s end? What are you to do as a parent? What should you do if your son refuses to recover from addiction?

What It’s Like Loving An Addict

Loving a drug addict can be synonymous with being a vessel filled with water. In the beginning, you may be filled with feelings of hope that your loved one will get better. You may coax them into going into rehab, convincing through the varying routes of emotions and logic, or even solicit the help of others. As a parent, you end up doing these specific things:

  • Talking one-on-one with your child: You may confront your child about their addiction, explaining its dangers and telling them that they should get help.
  • Setting up an intervention: Other parents prefer to involve other family members and professionals in the process. Through a planned meeting with your child’s loved ones, you will all write down memories, reasons, and other things that can convince your child to get treatment.
  • Court-ordered rehab: If a gentler approach doesn’t work, you can resort to law enforcement to bring your child to addiction treatment. However, this is only applicable to children below 18-21 in most states.

As you do these things to no avail, your vessel is continuously being emptied, being poured out to your loved one. When they show stubbornness, there will come a point where your vessel runs empty, leaving you with nothing. This may be the time that you need to know when to give up on an addict.

Knowing When It’s Time To Let Go

As mentioned, every parent has their limits. When children are younger, it is understandable that we have full authority over the things that they should or shouldn’t do. Our control over their lives eventually wanes as they reach adulthood, and this is when learning to love a drug addict becomes increasingly difficult.

There’s a fine line between being supportive towards addiction recovery and learning to let go of the situation for the better. Here are some signs that you may need to take a step back about your son’s addiction:

  • Your attempts to help have caused your life and others to be in danger: Some people with addictions end up committing petty crimes and even felonies. If being involved with your son poses a threat to you and other loved one’s safety or even their lives, it may be time to let go.
  • You are becoming financially unstable: As a parent, you want to give your son the best chance in life. But if it compromises your own financial security that you end up losing money for your own daily needs, this is also a potential sign. Some parents even lose financially as they become enablers of their son’s addiction.
  • Your health is suffering: If you are depressed, anxious, experiencing rage or have developed other physical health problems due to your son’s addiction, this is a symptom that you need to do something different.

The bottom line is, anything that compromises you and another loved one’s lives long-term should be enough for you to think twice about trying to control your child’s addiction. Having said that, what are some of the ways on how to let go of a drug addict son?

Is your child suffering from addiction?

Now is the time to seek help.

How To Let Go Of An Addict You Love

Letting go doesn’t always mean giving up. Sometimes, it can be the best thing you can do to give your son some space to think and decide on their own. Here are some ways that you can learn to move on from attempting to stop your child’s addiction, depending on the situation at hand.

When You Need A Break

There are certain situations where you don’t necessarily have to cut ties yet. However, learning how to love an addict can be costly to your mental and emotional health. This is a point where you need a break. Below are the steps on how to temporarily separate yourself from the stressful situation:

  • Avoid contact temporarily: Depending on your son’s personality, you can either be honest about them on taking a break or simply doing it subtly. Whichever approach you choose, avoiding contact can help remove toxic thoughts and stressful situations.
  • Do something distracting: Take a vacation, do something you love, or recharge by interacting with other people. This may help you gain a new perspective on how to approach your son’s addiction.
  • Prepare yourself: During your break, you can prepare yourself to be stronger mentally, emotionally, and even financially to help your child. Taking a break gives you the refueling you need to overcome this difficult situation.

When You Stop Caring

This may seem unnatural for parents–but “showing” that you stop caring is different from not caring at all. Some children respond to reverse psychology. The more attention, nagging, or coaxing that you give, the more they are repelled to seek treatment. However, letting them know that you’re providing more autonomy with their life may eventually encourage them to achieve sobriety. To do this, you must:

  • Acknowledge their maturity: You have to let them know verbally and through your actions that they already know what’s right versus wrong, that they are thinking adults who will be responsible for their decisions.
  • Letting them know you respect their choices: Tell them that although you would love for them to get help, you still respect their decisions nonetheless. This must come from a point of sincerity and not from manipulation.
  • Decrease contact and over-support: If your son is not living with you, you may want to decrease contact. If he is living with you, set up an agreement for more independence–such as moving out, stopping to pay expenses for them, etc. The choices you will take depends on your unique situation.

Hopefully, doing this will loosen strings that suffocate your son, allowing them to take a more proactive approach with their addiction recovery.

When To Let Go

There will also be instances where it is necessary to cut off all ties because of severe mental health problems, violence, crime or repeated abuse. If you experience any of these things, it may be time to let go of your son safely through the following ways:

  • Court-ordered treatment: Look up your state’s laws regarding court-ordered rehabilitation. In some instances, it is legal to send your son to drug or alcohol rehabilitation even against their will. It may be challenging but it is the best for all of you.
  • Mental health facility: Severe mental health problems related to addiction that cannot be resolved through counseling or oral medications may prompt you to admit your child to a mental health facility. Doing this will allow them to get the immediate treatment they need, plus ensure the safety of your other loved ones at home.
  • Law enforcement: If your son is involved in a drug-related crime or under the influence of addictions when committing a criminal act, one way to keep this under control is to report to police or other law enforcement.

Reasons You Should Cut Off A Loved One With Addiction

There are many reasons to support a child who is willing to go to rehab, but there are also valid points when it is time to let go. Anything that compromises your safety, health, financial security or even life warrants a decisive action. Below are beneficial reasons to let go of a loved one with an addiction.

Personal and family safety

At some point, you need to draw a line when it comes to your own safety and other members of the household. If violence or abuse is present, letting go may be the only way.

Improved health

You may suffer from mental health problems like depression or anxiety because of your son’s addiction. It is also possible that the stress related to this problem is causing physical ailments. By deciding to let go, you also give way to improved health for yourself.

Putting a stop to enabling behaviors

It’s sometimes challenging to distinguish, but you could be reinforcing your son’s addictions in subtle ways. If you provide for them financially, they could be using that money in substance abuse that progresses over time. Letting go can help put a stop to this vicious cycle.

Financial security

Think of it this way–losing your money on your child’s drug addiction will not only harm you but also your whole family, including your son that you intended to help. Being firm on your decision to let go may be a form of tough love, but a saving grace to your family and your finances.

Loving Someone Can Mean Letting Them Go

Cliche as it may sound, learning to let go can also be applicable in dealing with a loved one who has an addiction. Giving them space and caring for yourself may open doors for them to seek treatment at their own time.

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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