The 3 C’s: Help for Parents of Drug Addicts

One of the first things we hear at an alanon or naranon meeting is the “three C's.” We as parents of addicts did not Cause our child's addiction, can't Control it and we cannot Cure it.   We did not cause it – When supporting your son in recovery, the first step is to understand how he became an addict. It is not a matter of age, weakness of character, or being a good or bad person.  It has nothing to do with love or being a good parent.  It is a disease of the brain. An allergy.  A brain disorder. No one causes another person to be an addict.   We cannot control it – It does not matter what we do; we cannot control whether or not our sons use, go to meetings, abstain, or  get a sponsor.  No one is powerful enough to make another person do anything.  People make changes in their lives when the pain of their choices becomes too great , not when someone else's pain is bad enough. We cannot cure it - There is no cure for addiction.  However, your son can live a sober andfun life.  No one gets sober to be miserable.   Oh, by the way there is actually a fourth C.  WE can Change. We as parents must get educated.  This is a disease where lack of education can kill.  We must get support for ourselves and learn to help in different ways than we have in the past.  There is definitely a place for us in our son’s recovery.  We can choose to be a part of the problem or we can Family Support for Drug Addictschoose to be part of the solution.  We become part of the solution when we realize that the only way our son is going to take responsibility for his recovery is when we let go of it. Yes, hand this responsibility to your son. Take on the responsibility for your own recovery from exhaustion, fear, lack of knowledge of the disease. When our sons go to drug treatment we think it is our time to sit back and relax.  We are so relieved that he is somewhere safe.  We have done our job, we got him there.  Now “they” can help him. However, when your son is in an addiction treatment program,  getting educated, learning where to find support, learning how to live as a sober man, that is when WE need to get educated, learn where to find support and how to live life as the healthy  parent of an addict.  No one expects parents to magically know what to do.  The best way to find out what your role in your son’s recovery  is to ask the professionals working with your son.  And then follow their suggestions.  Go to support group meetings and listen to the other members of the group.  If the treatment facility your son is in offers workshops or family education programs…. GO…..OFTEN.  Please don’t limit yourself to the one day or three day program that you attended 6 months ago as the answer to finding support and knowledge. Please don’t think you have learned all there is to know.  Use that information as a stepping stone to more knowledge.  We hear information differently at different stages of our own recovery.).    And let your son know you love him, that you love him enough to hand his recovery over to him.