12 Jun 2013

We’ve been a homeschool family for over seventeen years, and one of our four children became a drug addict. Shocking, isn’t it? We certainly experienced shock. Your mind is probably anxious to know the reason, so you will be able to protect your own children from such a fate. We wish we could give you one.

Our family can be described as a conservative Christian home with no serious issues. We have tried to be faithful to the Lord, to our marriage, to our children and to our church.

We have tried to be reasonable in child discipline. We have established routines and close relationships. We have boundaries for our children to keep them safe. There were admittedly times when we were too harsh and times when we were too lenient. We’ve made plenty of mistakes. For a long while, we thought that there must have been some invisible line that we crossed in our parenting that led this child to reject everything that he had been taught.

Our son has shown patterns of behavior since he was young that caused us concern. He craved sugar and adrenalin rushes. He always wanted instant gratification. These are characteristics of an addictive personality. His adventure with drugs evidently began while he attended a Christian school for one year. As homeschoolers, some may be quick to assume that the school was the cause of our tragedy, but we think his getting involved with drugs was only a matter of time. The school was not the problem. The problem was inside our son.

Over the course of several years, we tried professional counseling, psychiatric visits, prescription medicines and diet changes in order to help him. Drug rehab programs would not accept him because he was not ready to admit he had a problem. Our attempts to control revealed him to be a master at deception. Our attempts to help revealed him to be a master at manipulation. Nothing we did seemed to make any difference. Drugs were his answer to all life’s problems. It was like a conversion in the wrong direction. He totally lost interest in family activities and became like a stranger in our home.

This child, who no longer lives with us, is now a young adult with no high school diploma, working a low wage job, and sharing life with other likeminded individuals. His addiction to drugs, alcohol and tobacco seem to be enough to fulfill his life. He does not see any reality in God.

We maintain open lines of communication with him but give him no financial help. Our teaching responsibilities to him are over. We are letting the natural consequences of his own choices teach him. We have detached with love, which is a hard thing to do. We are thankful for the help the Lord has given us through other people: some from our church and some from a weekly support group called Nar-Anon. (These groups can be found on the Internet and are for those who have an addicted loved one.) We have other children who need us to continue to be functioning parents to them, so we must constantly fight the discouragement that this trial brings on us.

There are two books that have been immensely useful in helping us understand the nature of what we are dealing with: Addict in the Family by Beverly Conyers and Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke. Both of these authors have had children with addictions and their gained wisdom has been invaluable. We have learned that although we love him dearly, we cannot fix our son. He will have to submit himself to God when he is ready to change. Thankfully, we know a Savior who is mighty to save and will be right there, if (and we trust, when) our son is ready to surrender.

Through all of this misery there have been some positives. We are learning to be less judgmental and more compassionate, less controlling and more accepting. We pray a lot more. We are learning to trust that our God is big enough even for this. We have always hoped that this son would be a gospel preacher one day. We are still praying that he will.

The author prefers to remain anonymous.