What I Didn’t Know I needed: From the Mother of an addict with Dual Diagnosis

Are you a mom or dad who thought you’d lose your mind from fear and worry over your beloved child?  You stood reunitedby, powerless, while they began to go down the wrong road of drugs, alcohol, and self-injury. At some point along the way came the diagnosis of a mental illness: Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, bipolar, PTSD, or some other brain disorder. Now they’re dealing with a dual diagnosis. This translates into: Double the agony for you. Your heart was crushed.

But shhh – don’t tell anyone. They’ll never understand. They might think less of you.

Or maybe your heart broke when your child revealed  a struggle with same-sex attraction or you discovered they were living a gay lifestyle – they may even have married their partner. You isolated from the guilt and the pain of shattered dreams.

Your heart might have been broken due to their incarceration and ongoing trouble with the law. Hide, withdraw, keep it a secret.

Alone is not good on this journey.

Natural instinct says, “Keep this to yourself”. But isolation is the enemy of emotional and spiritual health. Withdrawing only results in an increase of suffering. We hurt more in the end.

I want to tell you about something that can make a huge difference. It did for me and it came as big surprise. Like you, I didn’t know I needed it, either. What could this be? It’s being part of a support group.

My husband and I were strongly urged to find one when our daughter was in her first rehab. We didn’t want to. We didn’t feel like we had the time. We were afraid and nervous to share our secret. And to be honest, we wondered what we’d have in common with those people. But the rehab counselor’s words run in our ears, “A support group will really help you.”

The first one we went to was an Al-Anon group. The experience was wonderful. We couldn’t get over how much it helped. The group offered exactly what we needed. We discovered we actually had a lot in common with those people. They were just like us. We each had a problem we couldn’t solve, and the situation had made our lives unmanageable.

After awhile, we found several other helpful support groups. One was for parents whose children had been sexually abused. Our daughter had been raped, so it was perfect. We attended every week for a year. We felt understood, accepted, and safe.

After several years on our own journey of recovery, we started Hope for Hurting Parents (HHP) Support Groups. We’d like to help you start one, too.

How are our groups unique?

They’re for parents who are hurting over the choices, behaviors and struggles of their child – teen to adults of any age.

They’re Christ-focused, but are not a Bible study. We refer to Scripture because that’s where we find hope and strength. And we look to God as our source of help.

And we pray for each other and for our children, but it’s not a prayer meeting.

Scripture and prayer were missing in the other groups we attended, which is why we started our own. These were vital elements in our journey we wanted to include.

In our discussion style groups, relevant issues are addressed like: Grief and loss; anger and resentment; fear; worry and anxiety; guarding your marriage; self-care; forgiveness, and gratitude.

We don’t give advice or try to solve each others problems. We receive tremendous encouragement simply from being together – with other parents who understand, won’t look down on us, or gossip about us. It’s a place to be heard and find comfort. We look around the room and say, “I’m really not alone! I’m not the only one!”

Phone numbers are exchanged. Hugs are given. Support systems are developed. Prayers are prayed through tears of compassion. Strength is built. Courage is found. Bonds are formed.

Parents find peace, comfort, encouragement and a renewed sense of hope. Burdens feel lighter.

If you’re a brokenhearted parent, I urge you to find a support group today. If you think you’d like to start one, we wrote a Facilitator Manual for this purpose. The content takes a group through a whole year. If you don’t feel like you can do this, you could connect us with your pastor to discuss helping your church start a group. It can be a wonderful service to provide your community. The need is huge and the resources are few.

If you’d like more information, please leave a comment with your email address. I’ll keep it private. I’ll email you a sample of our material.

speckled horsesThis Bible verse affirms the truth that we need each other:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other . . .If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) NLT


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