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When love isn’t enough

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By Barbara Theodosiou

The destructive cycles of addiction affect me no differently than they do any parent with a child who suffers from addiction, but when it’s your child who is suffering, you think that your story will be different. You quickly learn that it’s not.

When my son Daniel was a young boy, he had difficulty relating to his peers in school. He was bullied and teased profusely by his classmates. He was very handsome and extremely bright, but his social skills were years behind his intelligence level, and his peers preyed on that. He turned to drugs, where he said he found “empowerment.” The high made him feel as though he could do anything or be anyone he wanted to be—something he didn’t feel around his peers.

In the last five years, Daniel’s journey through addiction has taken him through courtrooms and hospitals, treatment centers and shelters, hotel rooms, halfway houses and at times, days and nights spent out on the streets. Through it all I’ve longed to help him, and believed I could.

Daniel and I have always had a very close relationship, and I told myself that
if I just had a few months with him alone— just him and I— I could “fix” it. I just knew I could keep him from using if he was home with me. So when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. My husband and youngest son were going to be in Greece for a few weeks, it was the perfect time to bring my Daniel home.

It has been a few years since Daniel has lived in our home, and although I knew things were going to be difficult, I was not prepared for how difficult it was. I just knew in my heart of hearts this was going to be what he needed to get clean; I was going to help “fix” my son. I wanted to make sure that Daniel didn’t have any stress in his life while he was at home, so

I cooked, cleaned, washed clothes, did dishes, made sure he had all of his needs met and much of his wants too and I loved doing it.

The first week began with excitement; my son was coming home! It was a great first week. Daniel was not using and he was happy. The second week was a bit more difficult, as he was becoming more and more agitated and uncomfortable in his own skin. By the third week, he was using again.

The experience taught me that there is nothing I could do as his mother to prevent him from using, but I could prevent myself from allowing his addiction to abuse me.

It was through this realization that I was finally able to recognize the reality of the situation. Daniel is not the same anymore—the drugs have changed him. At home, he was no longer my happy, sensitive boy; he had become a selfish, demanding, angry and agitated man who I could barely recognize. The drugs have taken my son from me, and my heart is shattered, but my spirit remains hopeful for his recovery.

A mother’s heart wants to believe that her love will be the “magic cure” for her child’s destructive behaviors, but for your own sake and for your family, it’s important to realize that even a mother’s love
is powerless over addiction. It’s not your fault, and it’s not your problem to “fix.” All you can do is hope for the best for the child you love.

Barbara Theodosiou is founder of The Addict’s Mom and cofounder of Women Helping Women Mastermind.

 

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