Parents: There is a difference between abstinence and healing from drug abuse

Updated: May 18, 2019

Drugs are merely the symptom


I have been in recovery for over 12 years. Let me rephrase that, I have over 12 years clean and have been part of the recovery community for close to 15 years.

One thing I have heard repeatedly is that drugs were merely the symptom of my disease. Recovery is designed to repair the internal self, to get to the root cause of WHY I chose to use drugs.


I have spent the last few years going beyond focusing on drug addiction and have been focusing on my deeper healing. It has been painful, ugly, and overall very rewarding. One major thing I have learned over the last few years is this:


There isn’t a damn thing wrong with me.

I’ll be honest, for many years in recovery, I had this huge problem with the way some people in recovery and society in general talk about this “disease of addiction”. We have these cliché sayings I hear all the time like:


“My disease is out in the parking lot doing push-ups and waiting to kill me.” (Whhhhhaaaattttt.)

“My disease wants me dead.”

“Every time I take a clean breath, I’m like a fish out of water.”

“Addiction is incurable, progressive, and fatal.”


That’s just to name a few, but there are hundreds like this.


I heard all these stupid sayings and it actually made me have a harder time accepting this thing we call a disease. The weird thing is, we say these things about this disease and how bad it is, but we have to accept it.


So, when it came time to integrate into society, I felt more like a monster and thinking something was wrong with me than when I was smoking crack and shooting heroin. I felt like I didn’t belong in society.


I had about 7 years clean and I wanted to stop doing the recovery thing. Not because I wanted to return to using drugs, but because I didn’t know how I was going to learn how to accept myself and truly heal as long as I kept thinking something was wrong with me.


I had to let go of the idea that I have a disease that wants to kill me. I had to let go of the idea that I have something incurable and fatal.

I DID have to accept the fact that I can’t use substances to alter my feelings. At the very core of why I used drugs is the fact that I couldn’t cope with my feelings. I didn’t have the skills or the tools to deal with my own feelings.


I was scared to actually leave the recovery network I am in, for fear I wouldn’t continue the healing process on my own and would revert back to running away from myself. So I had to gain a new perspective on my life.


I continued the recovery process with this new understanding:

1. There isn’t anything wrong with me.

2. This is not a “Us vs. Them” process. (“Us” being addicts, “them” being everyone else)

3. The healing journey and process is my own.

4. My identity can’t be tied into being an addict (not to be confused with how I identify myself) I am so much more than an addict.


For parents, your son or daughter needs their journey of self discovery, commitment to healing themselves from all the reasons they felt like they need to use drugs in the first place. They don't have confidence in themselves.


Getting mad and confirming that belief because of how horrible they act in addiction, it's not good for your child. I know they are doing horrible inexcusable things, keeping loving boundaries and a little distance that shows you are there for them but you are NOT going to accept their behaviors around you is a kindness. Know they will steal from you, cross everyone of your boundaries if you allow it, guilt you, shame you, make you feel like it is all your fault.


This is where your journey is essential as well. You did not create the problem, but your own patterns, and guilt, and shame need to be healed for you too. And I can help. Set up a free strategy call.

Jennifer Maneely has spent the last eight years investing in leadership programs, self-awareness, and relationship with families through communication. Drawing on her experience as a leadership consultant, she uses an executive coaching approach to working with parents. She has dedicated her life and her business to not only addicts in need but also understanding and supporting the needs of the family members. Being a recovering addict herself, she is trained in what it takes for an addict to get their life back and has spent years teaching family members how to respond to the addicts to prevent the families from unintentionally supporting the addict in their self-sabotage and destructive patterns of behaviors. Want to stop supporting your loved one in their addiction? Set up a free strategy call


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Jennifer Maneely

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