The young adult addict

What do you do when you realize that a young adult is addicted? As a parent the feeling that will probably hit you first is guilt. Where did you fail in “properly” educating and preparing your baby for the big bad world? Where did you go wrong? Did you warn him or her enough? The emotions these thoughts provoke, can be very painful and overwhelming.

The instinctive reaction would be to run to the rescue, to help make the addiction go away. We know however, that it does not work like that. You did not cause the addiction. You have no control over it and you cannot cure it. It is no different from when your child smokes a pack of cigarettes a day, or comes home with the “wrong” boyfriend or girlfriend or gets arrested for shoplifting. All of these things do happen in real life, and more often than we sometimes realize. So what can we do to deal with the situation?

What is most helpful to me is to start by accepting reality as it is. Feelings of guilt and anger will not change the situation as it is occurring now. Stop fighting it, since waging a battle against reality is clearly insane. It’s like wanting to stop the sun from rising. Once you stop fighting, you will become more peaceful. And this offers an opportunity, namely to make the right choices.

You cannot control or change the young adult, but you can change you. Focus on you. Start by learning more about addiction. Offer direction, for instance by pointing out the existence of fellowships such as  al-anon. Mentally seperating the addiction from the person will make it easier not to judge and will prevent your mind from spinning out of control.

What is more loving. To bombard the addict with useless attempts to cure him or her by way of control, or to lovingly accept the fact and allow the young addict to take responsibility for him or herself. Is this easy? Not untill you manage to fully accept reality. Once you have, you will find peace and serenity for yourself. Let it begin with you.