Drug and alcohol recovery programs are usually pretty standard in most states but the only effective method treats the underlying problem along with or directly after withdrawal. This is usually accomplished by a dual diagnosis of one’s condition.
I have two sons, both alcoholics. One believing he is recovered and may still be in denial; while the other has entered treatment for the fourth time. The difference between the two is that the first was always in denial of his problem while the youngest admittedly knew and made known his condition at all times. To get the youngest into treatment we first used the elusive false bottom. Making the subject believe he has no resources left. (No resources like home, job, money, or enabling.) Having spent more time with my youngest as he battled his disease, I understand how the difference between them makes his more effective than the other. However, it does not mean that when he recovers all that he has lost, that he will not return to destructive behavior again. This is where safeguards are necessary to build into the recovery. This also does not mean that my oldest son’s recovery will not uphold, because he is at least in therapy and has a supportive partner, although she has little tolerance for his failures, and his recovery is the direct result of her “deal breakers,” in their relationship as they prepare to be married.
AA alone will not suffice for a dual diagnosis. It will be necessary for my youngest to continue psychotherapy along with medication for depression and anxiety. This seems to have been his biggest problem along with returning to the same environment. It is necessary to remove oneself from their currently, enabling environment. This, of course, is the hardest step; leaving girlfriends, spouses, and family members behind while you rebuild your life. This is not to say that one cannot return to those they love, it just creates a time delay. The hardest reality that an alcoholic has to face is the thought that they can never have another drink again in their life. AA encourages them to think only of the moment or the day they are in. Hence, the Serenity Prayer becomes a necessary tool. Therapy is the other ingredient in the recovery with a dual diagnosis. My youngest has never followed through with his therapy after being released from recovery programs.
Each time my youngest has returned, I have encouraged him to use some tools that I use myself, as I also suffer from clinical depression and anxiety. The first is a very effective and necessary mind set, “It is not my business what others think of me,” by Eckhart Tolle. I raised all of my children with this mind set stated my way, “Unless someone tells you that they do not like you, assume that they do and just be yourself.” So it is a familiar family viewpoint. Another that I have given my youngest is always ask, “What would Jesus do?” before acting on an impulse. He is the only one of my children that has “faith,” and I thank God every day that he does because faith is one of the greatest answers to recovery. The faith that God is always with you and the faith in yourself to accomplish anything you set your mind to. AA has non-secular meetings also, but without faith it is “more” difficult to stay in recovery, because faith always gives you someone to support you,” while the lack of faith leaves only yourself, and if you suffer from lack of self esteem, which many do, then depending on yourself is extremely difficult; sometimes impossible and tends to set one up for failure.
It is our job as parents to recognize behavior changes in our children. My oldest was far from home during his most difficult times with alcohol, but my youngest was directly in front of me and I still missed the signs. Even when told by school officials that he was self-medicating I still did not see it. I put him in counseling but it was of no use to him at the time because he did not want to live without drugs and alcohol. The only thing that was accomplished was he stopped using drugs and went to alcohol for his primary source of solace. There is no greater disappointment as a parent than having to ask one of our children to leave the home they were raised in and go out into the world and care for oneself without the aid of family when they chose alcohol over safety and support. It is like losing a child forever, which I have also experienced, but at least a child in recovery is one that gives us hope.
None of the baby books prepare you for this kind of loss. I remember learning that it is best to begin separating for your child from birth, as it will help them to become independent adults. This only worked with my daughter, as she “heeded” the messages every day from me that she was a beautiful young girl and could do anything she ever wanted to in her life. Why don’t boys hear the same message? Both of my boys are handsome, strong, young men, but self esteem came much harder for them. It is still a mystery to me. I am leaving tomorrow for another state to help a sick relative, but all I can think of is my youngest and how hard this will be for him, and then I think maybe it will be better if I am not around and he has no source of savior but God and himself. No, it doesn’t make it easier, but it does make me feel closer to him knowing that he will have God to turn to, and so will I.