By Lisa Fell Costa, BALM® Family Recovery Life Coach, Educator, and Loving Parent
I often talk about the many mistakes I made as a parent when I learned that my two sons were addicted to opiates. Now, they both have over 5 years of sobriety, and I still reflect on the fact that my lack of knowledge could have contributed to a deadly outcome. That feeling of having “dodged a bullet” is forever etched in my mind.
Although at the time, I thought I understood this world we call “Family Recovery”, I eventually realized that I had barely scratched the surface through my support groups, reading and attending Family Weekends at Treatment Centers. They say knowledge is power, and that phrase cannot be more applicable than when it is used about the BALM®.
We are all well-meaning, loving parents who have always tried to do the very best for our children. When faced with the child we love more than anything on this earth becoming an addict, much of what we believed to be “good parenting” must be revised as we are now living on a different planet. Words like enabling, detachment, denial are suddenly thrown at us, but without realizing it, despite what “good” parents, and quick learners we have been in the past, it is truly like learning a new language and culture.
We think we understand enabling fully – we don’t.
We think we know exactly when we are in denial – we don’t.
We know we must separate ourselves from our child in some way, but the thought of it and what it looks like is more than daunting. We go to support groups and some say our kids must leave the home while others say I can’t throw my kid out on the street.
Can I give him a gas card instead of money?
Should I give him a ride to work?
We are bombarded by different thoughts and ideas and somehow, we still don’t really get it. I remember watching my oldest son play football at age 12. He had played hockey, baseball and lacrosse – all sports I understood, I could cheer him on and communicate with him about his games. Football was confusing. I didn’t understand the game and I really hated the injury inducing sport. However, I had to learn the rules to participate as a parent. He gave it up after a few years, but had it become his sport of choice through High School and College, I would have felt compelled to learn every aspect of football. My two sons chose drugs over sports eventually leading them to the path of addiction.
Now my job was to learn every aspect of this foreign world as quickly and comprehensively as possible. Finding the BALM® made me realize that support groups and independent learning, although necessary, are not enough. We as parents must learn to navigate this new world thoroughly and swiftly.
There was a time in Family Recovery that we could say, “they need to reach bottom”, or “they’ll eventually seek recovery in their own time”, or “relapse is part of recovery,” Now our language and culture has to change even more. As parents of kids abusing drugs we are faced with a greater sense of urgency to be on a faster track to learning how to become our loved one’s best chance at seeking sustainable recovery.
We can’t afford making the mistakes that I made over 5 years ago. We can’t afford to learn the ropes over time. Because the truth is we are now fighting not only oxy and heroin, but also fentanyl. This deadly opiate is hundreds of times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl is being illicitly manufactured and often disguised as other pharmaceutical drugs or mixed with heroin, leading to thousands of overdose deaths.
If you have a loved one who is abusing drugs, whether they are actively using, in treatment, or in recovery, I urge you to embrace the BALM® with your whole heart and mind. You are your child’s best chance……. you can contribute to their recovery more than you know.
Lisa Fell Costa
BALM Family Recovery Coach and Educator
If you would like to hire Lisa as your BALM® Coach, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary session.