Helping an addict recover is discouraging but worthwhile

Q: I am not sure how we could have been so blind over the years but we were.

When our son told us recently that he was addicted to cocaine, it was a complete surprise. He probably would not have said anything had not his wife packed up her bags and taken their baby to move back over to her parents’ house.

She has already started pushing her lawyer to get a legal separation and most likely a divorce.

It took that from his wife to get our son to admit to us that he has a problem and it took that to get him to ask Dad and me for the dollars he needed to sign into a rehabilitation program.

The money is not a problem, but other than that we are not sure what to expect from here on in. This is a new problem for us. We are not sure what to do to best support our son and maybe even get him to a point where he is able to recover his marriage.

A: I hope you understand that the next few years are not likely to be all that great for any of you. Supporting someone through to recovery is stressful, at times disappointing, and even at times discouraging. But in the long run it is worth it.

It starts with detox, that difficult moment when the user, in this case your son, quits using whatever it was that was fulfilling his need for addiction. In your son’s case, it was cocaine. For others it might be alcohol. It could be prescription drugs, heroin or even methadone. The list of possible addictions is quite long.

But whatever is causing the addiction is irrelevant. The goal is abstinence. He has to stop using if he is going to recover.

Some programs include detox as a part of the package and work with their clients as they make their way through withdrawal.

Other programs expect their clients to be clean before they can be admitted.

Whichever program it is, the need for abstinence is the same. Only then can the program better understand the nature of the addiction.

Is this a person struggling with serious mental health issues? Suicide? Psychosis? Is this someone carrying on a family tradition designated by warped DNA? What about social isolation? Discrimination? Racism? The program your son joins will help you better understand the particular nature of his addiction and may have some suggestions that will help you help them help your son.

The next big hurdle is the moment of truth — when your son is discharged from the program.

You and everyone else are holding your breath, hoping that the program was successful and that your son can get back into some semblance of normality.

Sometimes people don’t quite make it. They relapse, fall off the wagon, and start using again. They have to go back, start over, try again and get discharged again. It is not as easy as one, two three. It is hard. But always there is hope and always you can believe that somewhere along the way your son will be successful, and all of the worry and fretting and fuming will be there to see him walking up the aisle of life’s journey to that pot of sobriety at the end of the rainbow.

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