We at Family Opioid Coaching have gotten hundreds of calls from frustrated, scared parents asking what they can do when their adult children refuse to consider the idea of NOT using drugs. Sometimes they live with a person who uses drugs (PWUD); too fearful to ask him/her to leave, and too fearful to ask him/her to stay. Each parent may have strong feelings about a different approach, which can drive a wedge into the couple’s relationship.
Over years of experience we have found certain strategies effective; we have seen them work countless times, when applied with consistency.
While there’s no known way to force another person into health and Recovery, practicing these 3 approaches provides an ideal opportunity to develop more loving and peaceful relationships.
- Talk less, and Listen more; for understanding. Instead of trying to make them stop, try to learn their opinions and emotions; their perspective on life. Addiction causes family communication to deteriorate, losing trust and honesty. Start conversations by asking open-ended questions as if you’re an objective reporter; to learn, NOT to influence.
- Communicate clearly what you will do and won’t do, as direct consequences of their decisions to participate in treatment, or not. You may find yourselves giving ultimatums that you have been unable to follow through with. This is a clear sign of the need to take a step back, regroup, and re-establish limits that you’re comfortable following through with. In a family coaching session an adult son told his mother that stopping his allowance had a positive effect and had inspired him to establish his own boundaries. As a result the son is taking better care of his health and avoiding people and situations triggering his drug use.
- Learn the scientific facts about Addiction, and talk about your concerns to someone who will not judge or say what you should do. The ‘Stigma’, or devaluing and shaming, of those who have this medical illness in the family continues to be powerful and can make it very difficult to ask for help. Confiding in another can set you free and allow you to take control back over your lives. RecoveryAnswers.org of the Recovery Research Institute of the Massachusetts General Hospital provides evidence-based news, research, and information on substance use disorder treatment and recovery.
Implementing these three steps is never easy. Consider getting help and support from knowledgeable professionals, and from other families who have been through this themselves. Drop us a line at familyaddictioncoach.com; read our Blogs and Resource pages. You can do this; there is hope, and Recovery of Families is possible.