What boundaries do you set with your young addict? Midwestern Mama reflects on her family’s “Three Simple Rules,” which proved to be anything but easy yet absolutely necessary for peace and well-being during the addiction journey.
After our young addict turned 18, and we had been through significant chaos and a few scares, we needed some boundaries. Our days and nights had turned upside down. He was coming and going as he pleased, and we knew he was up to no good.
When he would come home, I could smell the trouble. Yes, he reeked of marijuana – and the cologne he sprayed to try and mask it. I could see the trouble. His eyes were bloodshot. If I opened his backpack or checked his coat pockets, well, it was easy to know what had been going on and it was a lot more than pot.
Enough was enough.
Our college-age daughter was working full time and going to school full time – she needed to stay focused. Our elementary-age son needed a full night of sleep – and to witness fewer stressful arguments between his brother and mom and dad.
My husband and I had jobs to go to each morning. Our colleagues counted on us to be fresh.
Yep, our son’s lifestyle was dictating ours and it was not healthy for any of us.
We had had enough, but our son hadn’t. He didn’t believe he had a problem – in fact, he felt WE were the problem. (Yeah, I know, you’ve heard that, too!) He didn’t want help. He didn’t want to live at home yet he didn’t have anywhere else to live.
It was time for some clarity on the privilege of living at home and to have some healthy expectations.
We had three simple rules:
1) No drugs or paraphernalia in the house;
2) Keep family hours Sunday night through Friday morning – no coming and going, as pleased, at all hours of the night;
3) Let us know by 8 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends if he wouldn’t be coming home that evening.
More often than not, this meant he chose not to live at home during his addiction – that broke our heart to know that using trumped being at home, that sofa surfing and homeless were his decision, but these were boundaries that protected our family – including his siblings and allowed us to go on about our lives and responsibilities.
To that end, our son was ALWAYS welcome and encouraged to be part of family activities. We wanted him to know his home was there ready when he was, that the family was there for him, that our lives would continue forward and that when he was ready that his would, too.
In time, our son addressed his drug addiction, and in time, he embraced recovery. Today, he is living at home, nearly two years sober. Today our three simple rules are no longer necessary. Instead, common courtesy is the rule and it never needs enforcing because it’s simple they way we live.
No matter where you are on the addiction journey with your young adult, I encourage you to set some simple rules that support peace and well-being in your home. When recovery comes around, I predict that common courtesy will return and there will no longer be need for rules.
©2016 Our Young Addicts All Rights Reserved