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To Tell Them Or Not To Tell Them: When Parent’s Don’t Know You’re Addicted To Drugs

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Addiction impacts the whole family. So does recovery. If your parents are unaware of your addiction which has spiraled out of your control, here are the two arguments for telling them or not telling them. Remember, you are worth being loved and supported in recovery.

The Argument For Telling Them:

Our natural instinct when we have a problem we cannot solve, no matter what solution we try, is to turn to our parents. Since birth we have been taught to rely on our parents because they take care of us, they provide for us, and they always have an answer. If they don’t have an answer, they can help us find one. An honest and communicative relationship with parents is important for a healthy lifestyle of recovery. Of course, that is not always possible for everyone. Most often, parents know. In the rare case that parents don’t know, you might want to let them know that you need help. You’ve done your best hiding this problem from them and with all your independence and self-reliance you thought that you could figure it out on your own. You are no longer convinced that is an option so you make the call. Telling your parents about your addiction can come before or after you’ve made the call for treatment and admitted yourself to a program. Most programs offer family therapy and family programming weekends where your family can learn about addiction, recovery, and what they need to do to support you.

The Argument For Not Telling Them:

Not every relationship between an addict and their parent is helpful and supportive. Even when the fact that addiction is part of the picture is unknown, there could be longstanding trauma and strain between a parent and their child. Years of abuse of any kind, major arguments, resentments, control- whatever the vice of the relationship may be, it can be triggering and cause trauma, which  means traumatic reactions. Reaching out and asking for help can be a traumatizing process. You’re reaching the bottom end of your capacity to live with yourself as you are living addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. It has taken you a long time to realize that you are going to need help beyond your control to get to a place of being able to stop and stay stopped. Being dependent is part of the nature of addiction. You have been dependent upon drugs and alcohol in every part of your being, mind, body, and spirit. Recovery for many people, especially the first step of admitting they have a problem and reach out to ask for help, is a first step of independence. Waiting to call the parents means waiting to deal with any negativity, overstepping boundaries, advice giving, ridiculing, and other aversive behaviors which could get in the way. Instead of being told what to do, what not to do, and what you should have been doing, you take the step yourself. Despite the shame and guilt you might be feeling, you can call them with a first glimpse of pride to say I have a problem, I’ve had a problem, and I’m getting help.

Design For Change offers a refuge for addicts and alcoholics seeking recovery and a program for creating change in their lives. For information on our recovery services and treatment programs, call us today at (877) 267-3646.

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