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The Struggle of Having a Drug Addicted Child

Updated: May 1

When you imagine the life of a mother, you might think of playdates and after-school activities and birthday cupcakes. But for Deborah, a mother with a drug addicted child, life is filled with fear, embarrassment and sadness.

Deborah’s husband had been there for her, never judging her and always trying to help. He had been there when their son Mark started dabbling with drugs and alcohol in his teenage years and stayed strong in his support throughout his eventual addiction. But without warning, all that changed.

Mark’s addiction left him desperate for money. To feed his habit, he started stealing from the family—both his and Deborah’s savings—and then from the people around them. Our of desperation, he even began breaking into homes and businesses, leading to his arrest for theft and burglary. It left Deborah with a deep sense of betrayal, having to sell her home to afford his lawyer and court fees.

Every year a little more of the child Deborah knew disappeared. As she moved from one rehab to the next, her co-dependent behavior became as unhealthy as Marks addiction, until they became inextricably intertwined.

For Deborah, the horror of each failed attempt at recovery out-weighed the few successes. Mark attended rehab 5 times, leaving after 3 days or 5 or 7 or managing to stick it out the full time - only to relapse within a couple of weeks.

It’s been a long and painful journey for Deborah and ultimately, she was unable to save her son; her husband gave her strength but also suffered the same fate, taken too soon as a result of Mark’s addiction.

Deborah’s story is a heart-breaking reminder of the true struggle of having a drug addicted child. It serves as a reminder to all parents to keep their children close and get help immediately when signs of addiction arise.

To check out our post, The Addict, click here!

Debbie’s love for her son Mark is unconditional, but it has also created immense pain for her. She has been enabling his drug addiction for a long time, believing that if she just loves him enough, he will make the right decisions. She has gone to extremes to support him, such as trying to hide his drugs and lying to his friends and family in the hopes of protecting him. Though Mark has promised time and time again to clean up his act, the cycle has repeated itself over and over and Debbie’s hopes become more and more distant.

This has left her exhausted and helpless. She feels guilty for not doing more, but is unable to step away from her enabling behavior. She is consistently torn between her desire to help and her desire to let him take responsibility for his own life. Debbie is caught in an unhealthy codependent relationship with her son, and she knows it. She may not be an addict herself, but her addiction to her son’s addiction has taken a toll on her health and well-being.

Debbie is desperate for a way out, but this is easier said than done. This pain is not easily escaped, and she needs support to move past the destructive relationship she has with Mark. As long as Debbie is unwilling to let go of hope that Mark will change, the cycle will continue. She has to be the one to take the first steps in order to set him and herself free.

What is a codependent relationship?

Codependency in a relationship between a mother and her drug-addicted son is a problematic dynamic that can be damaging for both parties. The mother may not make clear boundaries or set clear expectations, demonstrate appropriate discipline or provide different resources or coping mechanisms for her son, leaving him to fend for himself in his addiction. The mother may also have difficulty detaching from her son and addressing her own psychological needs, leaving her feeling overwhelmed and unable to take care of herself. She buys into the "savior" role and often falls into unhealthy patterns of enabling and rescuing. This type of dynamic can lead to an imbalance of power and can create feelings of resentment and guilt on both sides. Ultimately, it can create a cycle of codependency that is difficult to break.

To learn more about codependent relationships, how to recognize them, and how to get out check out our post on Codependency for more information!


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