For parents, addiction is a waiting game. If we don’t know it at first, it’s something we figure out quickly … while waiting.
We know something isn’t right but have to wait to figure out what the heck is really going on. We know our loved one needs help but have to wait to get in to see a counselor or other professional. We know our kid should go to treatment but have to wait for a bed to open up, and who knows if that will be soon enough for them to actually go – the window of opportunity is small and quickly closes. So, we wait for the next time. Once they go to treatment, we wait for it to work only to learn that treatment is just the beginning and that sometimes it takes more than one go at it. By now, we’ve been waiting a long time.
The other day, I was at a meeting for Our Young Addicts at a local treatment program. As I waited for the person I was meeting with, I could hear the receptionist conducting an intake over the phone. The person was kind, empathetic and helpful, and they maintained privacy and confidentiality during the conversation, but what I could hear was the following:
We are at capacity right now. The first guaranteed spot won’t be available until two weeks from Saturday.
How devastating for the person on the phone! I don’t know if it was a parent or a young person on the other end, but I do know that calling takes courage and commitment and to hear that they would have to wait is unfortunately a reality that many of us face.
Having “been there and done that,” here are a few ideas on what to do when you have to wait.
- Say the Serenity Prayer. Over and over. I did and it works.
- Tap your network. This includes other counselors, programs, parents, friends who know your situation. You never know when someone might know of another place with an opening.
- Be open minded to other options. Don’t get your heart set on one place, no matter how much you’re sure it’s just the right one.
- Consider outpatient. Consider inpatient. Consider harm reduction. Consider anything that encourages progress.
- Look into scholarships and other finance options, so you’re knowledgeable and ready to go.
- Keep in touch with your loved one. Text. Call. Visit. They may skedaddle and that’s a risk, but at least they know you’re still there making arrangements and willing to help them get to treatment.
- Check out things like C.R.A.F.T. Begin trying their 20-minute guide.
- Take care of yourself. Go to Al-anon, Nar-anon or other helpful family support groups.
- Hug your other family members. Keep them posted on what’s going on, but remember their needs too. You’re in this together.
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