My Addicted Parent and Me
In addition to eventually developing my own addictions, I also grew up in a home with an addicted parent. I rarely spoke about my mom's addiction history when I was young because of the shame that frequently followed those conversations. As I grew older and developed a few less than desirable habits of my own, I thankfully found some compassion for my mom and the struggles that surrounded her.
I know now that having a parent who's an addict does not always have to carry such negative connotations. My mom is an addict, but addiction isn't her only identifier. Her struggles do not have to define her role as a woman or as a parent.
Growing Up with an Addicted Parent
Thankfully my mom didn't struggle with addiction for my entire childhood. We had many beautiful years together before that darkness started to seep into our lives. It wasn't until I became a teenager when things became overwhelmingly difficult. My mom was battling the trauma and demons of her past and like many individuals, during the early 2000s, she fell victim to the opioid crisis after having an unexpected surgical procedure.
It started with just a few pills and then a few more and then one more was never enough. The doctors during this time didn't seem to understand the extensive repercussions of prescribing these heavy medications to someone who already struggled tremendously both mentally and emotionally. It didn't take long for the addiction to fully set in and eventually she would take just about anything to make her feel better.
Her addiction ravaged her life, and to think it all started with supposedly "harmless" prescriptions. My mom's life was tragic far before the pills made their debut, but once they arrived things never seemed to return to normalcy. She's had moments of stability over the years, but sadly, looking back, there were far more bad days than good ones.
My Addicted Parent Set off a Family Addiction Pattern
As my addictions began to form in high school, I somehow believed that my vices were superior simply because my addictions were behavioral. Over time though, I learned that substance addictions and behavioral addictions aren't really that different after all. Looking back I think my superiority complex was just painstaking shame in disguise.
Even though I've never struggled with an addiction to pain medications, I understand now that as a child of an addict, I have to be even more aware and proactive about my habits involving medication. This was especially difficult for me when I first went on anxiety medication a couple of years ago. Due to my complicated history and perception of substances, I was convinced that even taking one potentially addictive pill might make me addicted.
Thankfully, I have been able to successfully navigate my mental health medication journey with the help of a really great psychiatrist and a few incredibly skilled therapists. Even though my addictions are primarily behavioral, I had to familiarize myself with substance addictions and remain conscious of my choices and intentions when taking medication. I know that no matter how helpful a medication may be, I must always be vigilant and remain wholeheartedly transparent with my therapists, as well.
Addiction Can Stop with You
It might sound silly to hear this from me because, obviously, I also struggle with addiction. However, I sincerely believe that a history of addiction in your family does not have to dictate your life or your future. Yes, I do struggle with addiction, but witnessing my mom's battle with substance abuse as a child certainly helped me to be more prepared for the possibility of addiction in my own life. Learning about addiction as a young bystander gave me knowledge, tools, and a unique level of experience to help actively fight my addictions.
While my addiction journey has been painful, I honestly believe that my life as an addict would be profoundly worse had I not learned so much from my mom's challenging experiences. Growing up as a child of an addicted parent made me wise beyond my years and unimaginably prepared for some of life's greatest struggles.
I know now that my mom isn't just an addict. She is a warrior. She is brave, mighty, fierce, and selfless in so many ways. She's still fighting this thing just about every single day, and every day she wakes up and keeps going is another day that I am so proud to call her my mom.
What is your experience with an addicted parent? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Richardson, A. (2020, May 21). My Addicted Parent and Me, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2020/5/my-addicted-parent-and-me