There seems to be a residual sense of obligation that parents feel toward their grown offspring...Read More
Trudy and Jeff’s son’s in-laws, the McGoverns, are ‘generous to a fault’...Read More
Todd moves near his adult child with surprising results...Read More
Daniel’s therapist wanted Cynthia and Jeff to come in for family sessions. Jeff refused...Read More
Kyle’s son, Jeff, has dated a few women over the years, but he’s never seemed passionate about any of them...Read More
In this first-person account a guest contributor shares what it continues to mean for her sons and their relationship to her a quarter-century after they lost their dad.
Parent and adult child agree to accept each other as they are now. They don’t have to like what the other does or how the other one is, but they agree to accept each other as they are.Read More
John and Katrina think their 29-year- old daughter, Melissa, has a drinking problem...Read More
he first step is accepting the fact that addiction is a disease, one that often runs in families. It shouldn’t be a moral issue, but parents feel so much shame and guilt when the subject comes up that their first response is often incredulity and denial.Read More
Substance abuse is a huge problem in America today, affecting families from every stratum of society. To find out how parents can help their adult child who are using and how they can help themselves, too, I interviewed an expert on the subject, Dr. Maureen Murdock.
In our first post about an adult child’s substance abuse problem, we discussed the symptoms of addiction and the need to see it for what it is: a disease. Here, we’ll explore how to engage your son or daughter who is using. It’s scary to contemplate breaking the code of silence that so often surrounds the loaded subject of addiction. Rather than risk alienating their child for good, parents will pretend nothing’s amiss. That’s the worse thing you could do, according Dr. Maureen Murdock, a psychotherapist who has written widely on the issue of mental illness and substance abuse, “You must speak up because either it’s the end of your relationship or the end of your child’s life. The choice is clear: there is no choice.”
Dr. Murdock emphasizes that there will be several conversations and likely several false starts before your child is open to receiving treatment. Still, the key thing is to begin. You and other members of the family should be coached by an addiction specialist or have that person in the room, if possible. Dr. Murdock urges you to address your child as neutrally and nonjudgmentally as possible. If you get angry and start blaming, the intervention won’t be productive. No matter what your actual words, project a message that the family is caring, loving, and there for her:
- We are concerned about your behavior;
- We suspect you’re using drugs;
- This can’t continue. You are comprising your health, possibly fatally by your risky behavior;
- We’re worried and we want you to get help.
Your child will most likely minimize his addiction if he acknowledges it at all. According to Dr. Murdock, those who abuse substances have a distorted perception that all is okay. “It’s such a small amount,” they’ll say. “I’m only using periodically,” “It’s your problem, not mine,” and “How could you think this of me!” Those who abuse substances are in denial and that denial is very strong and difficult to overcome. Further complicating the issue is the fact your adult child is not a minor; you can’t order him to get treatment.
Dr. Murdock says the key is to hear your child out. Encourage her to talk about her feelings. Perhaps she’s been lonely, bullied, unpopular, depressed or unbearably pressured by her peers. Perhaps she’s actually bipolar or on sensory overload. To combat mental illness or social anxiety, she may think, “Ah, drugs will make me cool.”
Dr. Murdock stresses that there are no magic bullets and no shortcuts on the road to recovery. No matter how you slice it, it’s a long, slow, painful process, but by getting the subject out in the open, at least you’re making a start. In part 3 of this series, we’ll look at things you can do to help your child and keep your sanity as the journey continues.
Maureen Murdock, PhD, is a psychotherapist, teacher and social activist. You can learn more about her at www.maureenmurdock.com
Your comments are encouraged. Please type your comment below, and click PREVIEW, in the next window click POST COMMENT. Thank you!
Although it seems counterintuitive, stepping away is keyRead More
Kathy, who is divorced and lives alone, was just told that she has an aggressive form of breast cancer . . .Read More
For months now Jim’s daughter, Cara, has been either a whirling dervish or a weeping basket case. . .Read More
Discernment counseling brings honest feelings to the surface. It establishes whether one side really has no interest in reconciliation, prefers the status quo—as disruptive and conflicted as it may be—or if everyone is committed to making things better.Read More
Dropping the attachment to past grievances will be the hardest thing you will attempt, but it is essential to this work.Read More
Ginny has tried everything to help Sam live within his means.Read More
Frank continued giving his son, Dirk, an allowance even after Dirk got his first job.Read More
There are 15,000 troops in war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq. What if one of them were yours . . .Read More
In our last post we shared a heartfelt message from a mother whose son was deploying to Iraq as a Navy SEAL. Now we’re looking at the aftermath of combat...Read More
Lila and George would like to recreate the family vacations they remembered so fondly when their children, Paul, Susan, and Richard, were smallRead More