Of course, we’re appalled when we learn that a parent has an opioid or heroin addiction. This is someone we rely on for wisdom, stability, and possibly babysitting. Most people regard their parents as a fortress to whom they can turn when they’re in the throes of a divorce or when they lose a job.
What do you do when your mother or father is in recovery because of opioids, heroin, or some other addiction? How do you help a parent stay on the road to a healthy life if you’re separated by hundreds of miles?
You need to first acknowledge that you are not the one who can solve this problem. At the end of the day, the addict must take charge of his or her addiction and recovery.
That said, even if you live in different states, there are some things you can do from afar to help your beloved mother or father.
Investigate the recovery program
Ask your parent to put your name and phone number on all healthcare disclosure forms. These forms allow the patient to specify people with whom counselors and medical professionals can discuss details of diagnosis and treatment. You want to be on that list.
Make sure the program your parent is in has a full range of medical resources. You need to know if the program has a legitimate medical doctor on board, if the program is licensed, if it offers a variety of therapies, including drug therapy, and if it monitors patients post treatment.
Don’t hesitate to ask your parent for the name and phone number of the clinic. Then call the clinic and ask questions. If you have doubts, you can advise your parent to move to a different program or clinic.
It is especially important that your parent addict is getting help for underlying emotional or psychological disorders. Experts believe that up to seventy percent of addicts suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or another personality dysfunction.
Medication has an important role in helping addicts, especially opioid addicts, recover. Many people misunderstand this, and think that the addict is simply exchanging one addiction for another. However, the New York Times has stated that the right medication allows the patient to rebuild his life while preventing relapse.
It is important for your parent to take amends seriously. Making amends starts with being completely honest with friends and family members about how the addict’s behavior has hurt them. It may be extremely difficult for mom to admit that she lied, cheated, possibly even stole things, or borrowed more money than she can ever hope to repay.
But she can’t hope to repair relationships without these painful admissions. And, without social connections, she is unlikely to stay clean.
You may have to step up and ask family and friends to forgive the addict. After all they may have been disappointed, neglected, lied to, or even abused by this person for years. Worse, they may have been through a failed recovery, possibly more than once. In negotiating with these people, emphasize that addiction is a disease, that the addict is not herself when under the influence of substances, and that she is really trying to change.
Addicts have a lot of temptations surrounding parties, especially Christmas parties, because there may historically have been drinking or drugging at these gatherings.
If you and your parent are spending Christmas apart, be sure to use internet programs like Skype and Google Duo which allow you to interact face to face. Make sure that he or she gets to see and chat with your children. Make sure she knows she is loved.
Getting her life back after addiction will be extremely hard for your parent, but you can help by being non-judgmental, staying in touch, and asking others to forgive.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Marie Villeza is passionate about connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. She developed ElderImpact.org to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice. Her mission is to empower seniors against ageism by providing information they need to keep control of their own lives.