How to Cope with an Addict Parent? EP 51

Should I Have a Relationship with My Addict Father?

Marie’s dad was addicted to crack when she was little. He stole from her. He was never really involved in her life. Now, she wants to be a part of his life, but at the same time she doesn’t want to get hurt again.

The struggle is real when you’re the child of an addict. You want to have a strong bond with them. You want them to be the parent and you get to be the child, but more oftentimes you end up having to be the parent because their life is a mess, and they aren’t thinking clearly. It’s important to protect yourself, when your parent isn’t able to do that for you, and sometimes that means protecting yourself from your parent. We’re going to hear more from Marie, as she explains the inner battle, she’s dealing with…of wanting to have a relationship with her father, but not being able to.

I Don’t Want My Father Taking Advantage of Me

My dad and I have always had an on and off-again relationship. He was addicted to crack when I was little, so I never really had a relationship with him. Then a few years ago, he turned to synthetic marijuana, and it’s made him a completely different person. He manipulates people. He has a 70-year-old girlfriend. She paid all of his fines for him and gave him thousands of dollars. He steals from me. He asks me for rides and stuff. I just want to be part of my dad’s life but at the same time, I don’t want to be taken advantage of. He was living with me and my mom for a couple of weeks, and today was the last straw. My great uncle had passed away 2 weeks ago, and now he’s taking advantage of my great uncle’s girlfriend. Now, she’s paying his fines, she’s giving him money, she’s giving him everything of my great uncles and he’s selling it.

I’m Worried About My Father Dying

I’m more worried than anything, because I’ve always had to be the parent in the relationship. I’m worried because I think he’s going to die. Two weeks ago, we had an argument and he told me he was done, and he almost died in the middle of the night from smoking synthetic marijuana. He’s okay with it. He told me I disrespect him, whenever I don’t give him my money, or I don’t do certain things for him.

I’m Angry with Him

I’m angry with him. He told me he was going to change this time. That he wasn’t going to do that. That he wasn’t going to leave me again, and I believed him. I’m mad at myself because I believed him.

Peer to Peer: Advice for Marie

Marie wants to know how to cope with an addicted parent. Do you have advice for her? There were some who wanted to encourage Marie and some shared how they coped with having addicts in their lives. Sonya confirms to Marie that she’s doing the right thing when she doesn’t give in. Carline wants to make sure Marie protects herself, stays safe, and encourages her to pray over her father. Eddie says Marie needs to not only forgive her father for his many mistakes but also forgive herself. And Margo thinks the best thing Marie can do is show her father she loves him.

Don’t Give In – Sonya

I feel for what you’re going through. I went through something similar, not with a parent, but a significant other, who had an addiction I really didn’t know of, until later on in the relationship. I was convinced at that moment, Marie, that God was not going to allow me to be in a position that he had not prepared me for. You need to believe that whatever you’re in, God has equipped you to handle. He is using you as an instrument to bring some sense into your father’s life. You are doing the right thing when you don’t give in. God doesn’t want you to give in. God wants you to stand your ground in faith and believe that what you are doing you are doing out of love for your heavenly father and your father here.

I have the sense, Marie, that you are a very wise, young woman. Use that wisdom to ask for God’s guidance and He will lead you. It’s not going to be an easy walk. It was not an easy walk for me. There was a lot of turmoil, but I know that God would not want me to give in. I went through some verbal abuse, it was horrible.

Four years after, the story is entirely different. I owe that to my father in heaven, who made me feel like he was on my side, and I was doing the right thing by not giving in. I called out my significant other on everything he was doing that I knew he should not be doing. Sometimes, I felt like his mom. It didn’t feel right, but it did feel right because I was doing the right thing. If God has given you this responsibility, it’s because he has equipped you for it.

Keep Yourself Safe – Carline

I have to speak with you from the heart of a grandmother. I’m expecting my first grandchild this year. So, what I’m telling you, I’m telling you with love. Keep yourself safe. Do not be afraid to call 9-1-1 for your safety, for your father’s safety.

Pray Over Him

Pray over him. Pray over yourself and get close to the Lord. He said, if you draw nigh unto Him, He will draw nigh unto you. (Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8) So, please, Marie, pray over your father. When he is angry, show him love and patience and unconditional love and respect and the Lord will keep you safe. Trust in the Lord.

Forgive Yourself - Eddie

I’m speaking as the adult child of an addict, and a recovering addict myself. I’d like to congratulate this young lady for having the courage to do what’s she’s doing. And I would suggest you forgive yourself, because all the things that are happening to you are not because of the things you have done. It’s nothing to do with what you’ve done. You have to forgive yourself, and don’t hold it against yourself that your relationship is not a good one. This is what I had to do. I had to understand that my family was toxic to me, and I had to love them at arm’s length. Think about that and I also recommend you find a 12-step program. Those programs are ordained by God, and I think they would help you a lot. They changed my life entirely.

The best thing to do is show him love – Margo

The only thing she can do for him is show him love. Show him that somebody does love him. It can either go bad or it can go good. I know that with love, hope and faith good things are possible.

Lean on God for Strength and Support

Marie as Sonya said to you, God will equip you with what you need to handle this, as you seek Him for wisdom and guidance. Don’t try to do it all on your own, lean on God for strength and support. Ephesians 6:10 says, "Let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong." 

What do we know when dealing with an addict?

You have to set boundaries. Addicts will use every trick in the book, even if they are your parent to feed their addiction. That is their number one goal…to feed their habit. You have to set boundaries with your dad and stick to those boundaries like super glue sticks to fingers. Otherwise, he will continue to take advantage of you. One example Marie of a boundary you need to set is to not give him any money. You can offer to cook him dinner, or buy him a meal, but under no circumstances give him cash. This is just one example. You also need to let him know he may not use around you in any circumstances and limit his staying with you.

Love is Powerful

Eddie and Margo both told you Marie to show him love and absolutely that’s what you should do. Love is powerful. It’s what God does for us, loves us with a never-ending unfailing love even when we act like babies and rebel and sin. You can love your father, while at the same time setting boundaries to protect yourself, and not giving him control over your life. He will have to come to the end of himself in order to change and seek help. He doesn’t seem quite there yet. He might not be ready, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy, stable life. Stay strong in the Lord, Marie, and continue seeking help and getting as much support as you need so you can stand firm on your own convictions.

Resources for Substance Abuse:

For hope and help in overcoming substance abuse and addiction, download our free eBook: Understanding Substance Abuse.
Need to talk to someone? Chat with a HopeCoach at TheHopeLine.
Other podcast episodes you might be interested in:

Also, check out my blogs to help you work through addiction:

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Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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