Things I Know Now, That I Wish I Had Known When I Started on this Journey...

At a Bridge to Hope Meeting, there is a tremendous amount of real-world experience dealing with the impacts of the disease of addiction on our families.

These are wishes that we have shared when looking back on this ordeal. 

These wishes are voiced about our children but apply equally to a brother, a sister or any other loved one. 

Our wish for you is that the sharing of what we have learned will be helpful. 

  • “…I had known I wasn’t alone through all of this and that there was a good support system out there. When I reached out and had a chance to talk with others I realized I wasn’t going crazy.”

  • “…I had understood that taking care of myself was just as important as helping my addicted child recover. I had to get better so the cycle of enabling could be broken.”

  • “… I had understood that addiction could occur in any family. It is not just something that happens in dysfunctional families. Being a role model or even a great parent role model is not enough to stop the disease of addiction.”

  • “…I had known the huge impact this disease would have on my entire family; and I had taken steps to make sure everyone got the help they needed earlier rather than later.”

  • “…I had understood how very important it is to have everyone who is supporting a child’s recovery (all parents, family members, church, school and others) on the same page.”

  • “…I had understood that there is a strong spiritual component to recovery from this disease; that church can be a significant resource for my child and my family. Churches have experience dealing with other addicts in the congregation and they can help us understand that recovery comes from faith in a Higher Power.”

  • “… I had been able to let go and let God sooner. Recovering from the impact of addiction in the family is a process that takes time and is different for each person.”

  • “…I had known and really understood what terrible lengths my child would go to (lying, stealing, running away and much worse) to obtain drugs. Valuables needed to be removed from my child’s grasp before the family heirlooms ended up in the pawnshop never to be seen again.”

  • “…I had understood the difference between encouraging and enabling. Enabling resulted in spending upwards of $10,000 on heroin over the years.”

  • “…I had known I was enabling my child to use drugs when I lied for him and protected him from consequences. Addiction is a situation of opposites where your heart will rule your decisions instead of your brain. You are not helping your child by protecting him from the consequences of his actions no matter what your heart tells you.”

  • “…I had known that someday I would feel good about my child being in jail because he is safe and not using drugs.”

  • “…I had listened to that little whisper from my heart that told me my child was using drugs.”

  • “…I had paid attention to the warning signs: dropping grades, withdrawal from sports and school activities, disappearance of old friends (the “good kids”), new friends who had first names but no faces or last names, increased secret phone activity, sneaking out, etc.”

  • “…I hadn’t convinced myself that this was “just a phase” or adolescent “right of passage.” That I knew how to distinguish between normal teenage behavior and drug related behavior.”

  • “…I had known more about the drug situation in my community and school. As parents, we are ignorant of the drug problem with a capital “I”. We have to educate ourselves about street drugs, their potency and symptoms of use, as well as the potential for abuse of prescription or other medicine that we may have in the house.”

  • “…I had listened to the clues I was given by teachers and the school principal. I think many people knew or suspected about my child’s drug use before it was acknowledged at home.”

  • “…I had understood that drugs are literally everywhere including churches, schools, recovery meetings, rehabilitation centers and places of employment.”

  • “…I had known that even when I tried to make my child safe by “grounding” them that drugs could easily be “delivered” to the house.”

  • “…I had understood that no matter how much I loved my child, how much I cried, how much I hurt, how much I bribed, how much I punished, I couldn’t make my child stop using drugs.”

  • “…I had known that treatment was not a one-shot deal and not a cure.”

  • “…I understood what a really long process recovery from addiction is (years not months) and that after abstaining from drug use it takes them a long time to catch up with their peers intellectually and socially even though they want so much to be normal.”

  • “…I had been aware that all recovery meetings are not the same and I had to shop around to find the right program for my child.”

  • “…I had never given up on my child. Recovery takes time. “Just for today” are watchwords. What a difference two years makes! There isn’t any good reason to give up hope.”

  • “…I had challenged the educational professionals at school more. There is a truant officer at some schools to support efforts to keep your child in school but you have to ask. There are alternative education programs at some schools but you have to ask.”

  • “…I had questioned the doctors and the experts more. Addiction can masquerade as depression. I think the age of the child is an issue in treatment. Techniques that work well with a 23-year old may not be appropriate for a 13-year old.”

  • “…I had known about Act 53, a government funded program to involuntarily court order a child into treatment without a criminal record.”

  • “…I had known that drug tests could be manipulated.”