When a parent enters treatment for opioid addiction and begins methadone dosing, hopefully that person embraces the recovery process and the resumption of certain responsibilities that may have been neglected during addiction.
Many parents in addiction live with a sense of regret and shame over not always being there for their children. Opiate addiction is particularly brutal and can derail a person’s priorities for extended periods of time. Families can suffer, and their bonds strained to the limit for years because of drug addiction.
When a parent begins to find true recovery and is able to take an honest look at their life, they recognize how their mistakes affected others – most often their families and particularly their children.
Effective parenting requires a notable combination of talents & abilities – obviously love mixed with patience, availability, consistency, and attention. These qualities suffer and are diminished for a majority of addicted parents when drugs are in control. As the years roll on while a parent remains in active addiction, their children may develop behavior problems, experience depression or rage, or feel lonely or abandoned. Facing this damage can be very hard for a parent in early recovery. Trying to resume the role of an “active parent” may not be well-received once the kids have endured on their own without supervision or proper care.
Rebuilding trust and good communication will take time. As a parent in recovery, it will require a new commitment from you to your children (and family) to be there when you can and to be honest and genuine. Addicted people have often broken multiple promises to those they love. Family who were lied to or repeatedly disappointed will be in a cautious, protective mode for a long time – perhaps hopeful that Dad is really going to stay sober, yet fearful he will return to drugs and restart the painful cycle all over again.
If you are a parent in recovery, you should have your own support group who can help to nurture you through the transitions and stresses of getting clean & sober and learning to deal with past damage. The path of recovery obviously involves a strong commitment to sober living. Good intentions are important, but real follow-through and demonstrated effort are much more important. It’s not enough to talk-the-talk. You must walk-the-walk if you are to truly succeed in achieving a sober life and recapturing the trust of those who were harmed or neglected.
The good news is that families, and children, often have a remarkable sense of love and willingness to forgive when they see that you are real about your recovery. Recovery changes people from the inside out. It returns people to a better form, and in some instances makes them better than they ever were. These positive changes in attitude, behavior, and lifestyle are visible to others. When they see the real you, the better you – that has evolved during the recovery process – the love, trust, and communication often return and may actually surpass what they once were.
It is important to do the work of recovery and to recognize that you must work on yourself. This is the basis for leaving the past in the past, and moving forward to a better future.