The Washington Post recently published an article on how addiction & overdoses traumatizes the parents who are dealing with a son or daughter suffering with a prolonged, chronic addiction / (SUD) substance use disorder. I completely related to the PTSD symptoms, having lived through the nightmare myself. If I had it to do over again, I most definitely would have reached out for support from PAL (Parents of Addicted Loved Ones) and/or counseling on how to deal with the trauma, fear of death of my child, guilt and isolation. The trauma was painful and overwhelming and no one could seem to understand the depth and huge magnitude of carrying this enormous stress around every waking minute of my life.
I also would have gained more information on my legal rights as a grandparent with legal guardianship for my grandson. It was complicating circumstances, because the father of my grandson was/is a “family law attorney”. Grandparents & grandchildren alienation is another causality of addiction. It is hard to imagine that innocent victims like this are permanently removed from one another. Where is the “love” in that?
Nothing about the nightmare I was living for 13 years was “normal”. Normal parents of a “normal family” are not dealing with overdoses, visiting their child incarcerated multiple times, attending court hearings or speaking face to face to with Judges and pleading for help to save their child’s life, hiring lawyers, speaking to ER doctors, addiction specialists, public defenders and prosecutors, law enforcement, clerk of the court, filing involuntary commitment petitions, governors and office of drug control on a regular basis, or planning their child’s funeral. But this was my reality and my life with a daughter (who was also a parent to a young son), suffering with addiction.
The article went on to say;
….. There is this collateral damage of addiction, the impact on those who love and worry about the addict. Many parents don’t survive the midnight calls about arrest, overdose, violence, and hospitalizations, (emotionally intact). Chronic exposure to the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol often manifests as what is sometimes called complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or C-PTSD, a response to a continuous interpersonal trauma in which the sufferer has been held captive, physically or emotionally. The symptoms include anger and a sense of hopelessness.
….. “The average parent is traumatized from ‘losing’ their child for years before it becomes a full-blown substance-use disorder, so the PTSD takes some time to form,” says New York neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez, who studies post-traumatic stress disorder.
“This complex trauma,” she says, develops from “feeling like a failed parent and having to defend their child to others. It is stoked every time parents find themselves being lied to or stolen from, calling 911 or seeing their child unconscious — or worse.”
So there you have it, all summed up in a nice neat article about “those other people”. I hope that it enlightens the readers who may be a bit “judgmental” or look down their noses at “parents who didn’t do their job right”. Trust me, their job was a monumental task that most parents could not possibly comprehend or handle. God bless all parents of addicted sons or daughters and have mercy on their broken, tired and weary souls and pour out grace and strength on grieving parents whose hearts are broken.
– Sharon Blair
Founder of The Jennifer Act
Jennifer Reynolds Mother