my father is a druggie and he refuses to get help

dear heather,

My father is a druggie. He is locked up and refuses to go to rehab when he gets out because he says it doesn’t help. But if he gets out and goes back to jail, it will be his third strike, meaning he will be locked up for a while.This is always on my mind. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about this. Sometimes when it becomes too much to bear, I break down and cry. What should I do?

This is a situation in which you have little or no control, so it’s understandable that you’re feeling upset…and helpless. It seems you are already mourning the loss of your father by constantly picturing his return to prison on a three-strike sentence.It’s hard to know what to do about your dad other than trying to impress upon him how much it means to you to have him around. There is no guarantee that anything anyone says will convince him to go into recovery, though.

It’s hard to accept, but your father is responsible for his own behavior and he alone has to make the decision to go into recovery. I hope your father will get help with his drug problem and avoid this fate, but whatever happens, please try to take care of yourself. This is important because it’s been found that the children of addicted parents tend to experience depression and anxiety disorders at a higher frequency than the rest of the population.

On the other hand, those who seek the counsel, support and guidance of other adults–family members, teachers, or school psychologists or counselors–are able to better cope with such difficult emotional experiences and can better handle the stress associated with them. So reach out. It might be hard to admit this is going on within your family to an “outsider,” but finding someone you trust and feel comfortable with will help.

You might also want to ask your school psychologist whether she or he can recommend any supportive groups for those who have drug addicted or alcoholic parents (like Al-Anon). Getting support from others who are going through or have gone through similar experiences will go a long way to helping you to feel less isolated, ashamed and guilty.

take care,

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