There’s a saying that as long as someone suffering from addiction is alive, there’s hope, but as we all know, there’s a lot of casualties along the way. The Washington Post just took a heartbreaking look at parents coping with addiction, and the loss of their children as a result.
The story begins with one mother saying that her son Brian has been dead for 136 days. “I watched him die over many years, and it was a long, slow, horrible death.” And she acknowledged that living with an addicted son can be pure hell. “I spent so many years in stages of anxiety and depression. I worried about Brian 24/7. His disease took over my life.”
An indeed, as this report tells us, parents often get hit hard from the collateral damage of addiction, developing PSTD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from living on a constant rollercoaster, and as one psychologist explains, “The average parent is traumatized from ‘losing’ their child for years before it becomes a full-blown substance-use disorder, so the PTSD takes some time to form.” A lot of times parents develop PTSD from the sense that they failed their children. As this source further explains, the trauma is “stoked every time parents find themselves being lied to or stolen from, calling 911, seeing their child unconscious – or worse.”
An indeed, addiction can have devastating consequences for both the one suffering from addiction and the parent. As one psychiatrist explains, “I work with both sides, and the pain each of them suffers is so great. But the parent’s pain is especially complex because they always seem to bear a feeling of responsibility, that somehow they could have done more.”
A lot of parents end up creating their makeshift support groups when dealing with their children suffering from addiction, and there is also a group called PAL, Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, which spans nationwide. It was created by a couple who went through their children suffering from addiction, and over a thousand parents have come through looking for support and help. As the founder of PAL says, “People are so afraid that someone is going to ask them about their son or daughters, and they won’t know what to reply.”
But these meetings are not without hope. The founder of PAL has two sons that have been sober for the last four years. The anxiety of having children suffering from addiction still pops up, because there are never any guarantees, but as the founder of PAL explains, “The more we practice focusing on being grateful, the quicker the thoughts left.”