November 15, 2017

The healing process begins with you

This week, I continue my discussion on habits and behaviors and the impact they have on our interactions and our emotional and relational health.

In the blog and podcast from two weeks ago, I talked about the benefits of breaking the habit or routine which have become a familiar, repetitive response to the behaviors and choices of our addicted child.

Last week’s blog and podcast centered around three behaviors which will bring healing into the lives of families struggling with a loved one’s addiction.  As a refresher, the three habits are:

  1. Eliminate criticism, judgement and condemnation from my dialogue.
  2. Focus on only on what I have authority over and responsibility for.
  3. I will not engage in behaviors or activities which hurt me.

As I was reviewing the content from the past few weeks, the common thread in the previous posts were around how our responses to the difficult experiences and behaviors of our children active in their addiction.

The core message: If we want the situation to change in our child’s life, we are responsible for adjusting, learning, evolving, growing, and altering our behaviors. Many of the responses I have received over the past few weeks were from parents who have embraced the need to better educate themselves, adjusted or altered their interactions with their addicted loved one, or started focusing on what their loved one needs most from them, not what they expect/demand of their loved one.

  1. You are making a difference: To those who have begun to engage in a mindset of unconditional love, meeting their loved one where they are, living in healthy balance, this is awesome. Continue to commit to the process of being the parent they need you to be, not the one you want to be. You may not know it or experience it immediately; but, I am quite confident adjusting your behaviors, shifting your away from you to them, and changing your vocabulary will not be lost on your loved one. They may not acknowledge it, but they will notice it; it will interrupt the habit forming, often toxic patterns which have become part of your addiction driven interactions.
  1. Stick with it: If you become frustrated with a lack of desired results or measurable, immediate impact of your efforts, read the above paragraph again. I know they will notice the change, the commitment, and sense the opportunity for healing you are providing them. They may not be ready, or they may still be learning to trust the new you. While your actions may not guarantee a clean and sober loved one; it will, at a minimum facilitate the formation of a path to healing a broken relationship.
  1. This is good for you: While we all would love to have our loved fully recovered, healed, sober and on the life path we dreamt for them. The reality is, this may never happen. Interrupting your toxic exchanges, engaging in healing behaviors, and facilitating healthy interactions provides a road back to some form of relationship, increases the chances of a healthy recovery, and brings healing into your own, personal broken life. You are of greatest value to all members of your family when you are healthy; these activities put you on that path.

If you have not examined the content in the previous blogs, I encourage you to spend some time there. If you have questions, concerns, or need my support to better understand what I am sharing, please let me know.  Discovering a path to adjusting your behaviors and responses is critical for your personal development and for the healing of a broken or damaged relationship.  This is a fundamental step for every parent struggling with child’s addiction.


Want more insights from this blog?

Join me on the podcast “100Pedals Talk: Inside the Blog” as I delve deeper into this post and share personal stories or reflections behind the article. (Note: The podcast relating to any particular blog is released on Thursday of the same week this blog is posted.) Subscribe to this podcast on I-Tunes here.

This week’s blog podcast episode:

I would love to hear from you.

What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know if you need more:


Addiction in the Family, featured, Parenting and Addiction, Uncategorized , , , , , , ,
About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.

  1. Advise to me from others has been to not enable the addict. My reference to the addict to whom I have unconditional love is not family but a young man I have brought into my home and heart. He calls me Mama. He has parents who have struggled with his illness for years and show great rejection to him. He thinks they are evil! I have tried to be patient and understanding and giving. He does not admit to being an addict but his actions are clearly proof that he is. He lies, steals, asks for money, not dependable or responsible. He is only my problem because I love him and forgive him for all the pain I have suffered. My concern is unconditional.
    What I understand from your blog resembles enabling. Changing my behavior to be more tolerant makes me think I am further enabling him. I am confused. I need to pull myself through this situation. I do not want him to destroy me or himself.

    • Rhoda,
      Thanks for sharing your story. You bring up a great discussion topic, the difference between enabling/tolerance and love/acceptance. I may have to do tomorrow’s podcast on your question as I know I can’t simplify my answer here enough to do your question justice. What I am encouraging and promoting has very little to do with enabling/tolerance. Enabling is allowing someone to continue to live in addiction without experiencing the consequences of addictive decisions and behaviors. Enabling is a like many popular addiction related vocabulary words that are misapplied and overused. Love/Acceptance is meeting people where they are in their addiction in such a way that we allow them to experience and find a connection to the ones they love. It does not mean we protect them, do things for them, or allow them to run all over our boundaries (which is enabling). Rather, it means that inside the construct of our clearly defined parameters we meet them where they are, for who they are, while connecting with and loving them. Enabling is neither healthy nor healing; love and acceptance is a healthy, healing activity. This Friday, come back to this blog page and at the bottom of the page click on the link to the podcast. I will respond to your question in greater detail.

  2. I’m a bit confused too- although I understand this as a point of reference for any relationship I struggle to understand it in reference to a parent to child relationship with the child being a heroin addict.
    My daughter (my only child) is a heroin addict it’s been almost 5 years- she’s 23 and has a 2 year old son who was born addicted. I’ve been by her side through all of her attempts at sobriety- ambulatory detox, inpatient, outpatient, vivitrol, methadone maintenance (which seemed to be the ONLY thing that worked for her) well at least for a while.
    She recently relapsed, both her and her son live(d) with me.. upon finding dirty needles on her bedroom floor in a backpack where her son could have easily gotten a hold of them I once again offered respite until she could find a bed, drove her to the facility and took on the responsibility of caring for my grandson while she was in rehab, 8 days after being there she left AMA, was out in the streets for the past several weeks, calling everyone in her contact list pleading for money. Within the past few days she went back to the methadone clinic and is now reaching out, asking to see her son and inquiring about the holidays.
    I am absolutely torn, do I just forget all the damage that’s been done and allow her to just come back into our lives or perhaps wait until she’s more stabilized? My grandsons safety and well being has to be #1 however, I love my daughter unconditionally and don’t want to make her feel even more self loathing than I’m sure she already does.
    Any advice would be so very much appreciated.
    Thank you for taking the time to read…

    • Amy,
      Thanks for reaching out and sharing your story. One of the interesting commonalities I started to discover on my nine year journey with my son’s addiction is that much of what I finally discovered as healthy, healing behaviors applied as much to those with addictions as they did to everyday life relationships. The only real difference is in addiction driven situations, the emotion levels are intensified and usually the fundamental relationship behaviors were not in place beforehand as many of us would love to believe.

      To answer your specific question, follow your instincts, listen to your heart. Do what you can to move past your fears. You have a “right” to protect your grandson, to feel safe and protected in your home, and to establish boundaries for the ways you will interact/engage with your daughter. Find or create a time where you can articulate with her the guideline for interacting with her. Remind her of your love for her and your awareness of how difficult her current situation is. Share with her your commitment to care for and protect her son. Let her know you are willing to walk with her on her recovery journey. Avoid telling her what she needs to do, rather share with her what you are living and doing.

      As far as those guidelines and protections, I cannot tell you what is in or needs to be in your heart. You know, in your heart, a place of love what you need to do. Trust yourself and trust in your love for her to do and say what is best.

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