Wellbriety Column: The Mother and Son Relationship in Addiction

The relationship between a Mother and her son is one that transcends time. No matter the age of your child they are still your baby and you want to protect them. I remember speaking to a therapist (and close friend) years ago regarding my son. I will never forget this conversation as long as I live. She was actually out on the road touring with us at my son’s request. He was on a rampage of using and drinking night after night. She did her best to try and use every tool she possessed to help him understand how bad his addiction had become. He would not listen. I was in a total bubble of denial about his addiction and refused to see it. This was not helpful to either of us.
After one particularly bad night I sat down with her and asked openly, “Is my son an addict?” She answered “YES”. My heart instantly fell into a bottomless pit of pain. I began to sob and asked her for help. A few days later my son was flown to rehab; he was safe.
Safety and happiness are all a parent really wants for their child. I was no different. However, my lack of knowledge about this insidious disease caused me to become one of my son’s greatest enablers. I submerged myself in every book, article and conversation that had to do with addiction and recovery. I needed to know what my child was going through and how best I could help us both. This was the key and first step to my own healing.
I know that a Mother’s first instinct is to protect her child at all costs, but in this case that is not the best way to help them. They need to learn to deal with their demons and heal in their own time and space. A lot of people talk about tough love, but I am not a believer in that path. No matter how bad things became, I never gave up or turned my son away. I was there for him whenever he asked for help. We all have our own roads to follow in this life. Choose yours wisely and with compassion and understanding. If you think your child is using, seek guidance from a professional or a group. Al-Anon is a good place to begin. There are also a lot of websites to turn to with meetings and articles of help. I was told by one of my son’s therapists in rehab these words of wisdom: “You cannot help your child unless you put your healing first.” I have found them to be true.
Just remember, you were there when they fell down the first time, so be there to help lift them up each time they ask. You will love yourself for it.