No matter how old they are, it can be difficult saying no to your child.
As the parent of an adult child struggling with addiction (substance use disorder), saying no can seem impossible because you fear what will happen if you do. You witness them self-destructing in their addiction and wonder if you are somehow to blame. You feel guilt, heartache, a primal instinct to protect and want to believe that your ‘help’ (emotional, financial, protection) will turn them around.
If you aren’t careful your ‘help’ can destroy your own emotional stability and financial security in the process.
Whether you believe addiction is a disease or a choice that your adult child won’t take responsibility for one thing is certain… if they are in active addiction they will try and use their situation to control you. They may want you to believe that if you don’t ‘help’ them (I need money) something bad will happen to them (I will die) and you will be sorry (it will be your fault for turning your back on me).
As long as you support them financially, protect them from the consequences of their actions, you can't expect their behaviour to change. There is absolutely no reason for them to change while you are meeting their needs rather than helping them to meet their own needs.
Don’t let your adult child with substance use disorder pull you into their storm — pull them into your peace.
Tough and unconditional love
The only person you can change is yourself. When you change how you deal with your adult child they will change. The how is not within your control, but they will change.
Promises, threats, and blame follow a refusal to hand over money. You will experience despair, guilt, grief etc. and must have a strong support system so you don’t fall back into emotional decision making. Don’t keep this part of your life secret. For every child in active addiction, there is a parent in pain so seek professional help for yourself.
Don’t forget that your adult child is an adult that will make their own choices and the hard reality is they might not choose to save themselves. Provide emotional support and encouragement to make better life choices but don’t keep contributing to the problem by continuing your financial support in ways that are not helpful.
I have extensive experience working with parents of adult children with substance use disorder. If you are ready to change how you deal with your adult child please contact me, I will be honoured to work with you to find your way out of the storm and find some peace for yourself and your family.