Mar 7, 2019 | By Tim Stoddart

I Gave My Mom PTSD in My Addiction

Addiction Resources

On January 29th 2013, my Mom had to file a missing persons report for me in Los Angeles because I was on a drug run.

By this time, the bags under my Mom’s eyes were as dark as the alleyways and streets I was hanging out in. The sleepless nights she experienced were enough to last her a lifetime. My Mother lived in a state of sheer panic, terror, and helplessness as my addiction passed her off to the shadows as an outcast, leaving her to pick up the pieces and make sense of it all.

Nine months later, I ruined Thanksgiving – ending up in the hospital from an overdose.

I was dismantling my life, and it was also dismantling hers. My addiction gave my Mom post-traumatic stress disorder.

The thoughts in her head spun as fast as a tossed coin. But, where would the coin land? Would it be the loss of the job? Another hospital or rehab visit? The loss of my apartment? The loss of my life? She was exhausted, heartbroken, desperate, and on high alert 24/7 for the next incident to come her way.

How could someone she love so much hate themselves so much? How could my addiction be taking over everything? What did she do wrong as a mother? No mother thinks their child is going to grow up an addict or an alcoholic. She thought back over and over again about what went wrong, and what she could have done differently.

The truth is, my Mother did everything perfectly. I had a great childhood. I had two fantastic parents in my life. A big yard to run around in. But here I was, throwing caution to the wind.

If the tears of my Mother could have gotten me sober, I would be sober enough for at least one hundred people.

Addiction is traumatic – especially for those who are on the frontlines. And, with any war – including addiction – the things that loved ones see, feel, and experience can create PTSD, and in turn, that can create unhealthy patterns.

I Used My Dad as A Scapegoat

Along with the PTSD, my Mom developed unhealthy behaviors in response to mine. For a long time she was afraid of me. If she nagged on me too much I exploded, ran away and would swear at her. At the time, it was easier to live in denial and give me that $20 instead of ask questions about the “gas money” I needed that day.

Conversely, my behaviors also shaped the behavior of my other family members and put them on high alert. If I lied and stole my way to my next high, I would blame the stolen pills on my Father who once suffered from addiction himself – in turn, creating friction between my parents marriage. Overtime, my Father became more controlling and felt more responsible for my recovery. Exploding behind closed doors and creating tension within the household, raising blood pressures and heart rates as he was fearful for my life. One of my sister’s stepped out of my life and the other sister started drinking with me in secret, making excuses for my behavior.

If the family is a system, the equilibrium of the family shifted during my addiction to cope with the effects. Each person changed, adjusted accordingly and developed dysfunctional patterns of coping with and compensating for the pain and stress.

When someone gets sober, it takes a lot of work, but oftentimes the family can be overlooked. The outward focus leaves family members unaware of their own mental, physical, and emotional deterioration. What does it take for them to heal? There’s no doubt that my Mother’s PTSD wasn’t the only issue that followed my addiction.

Addiction As A Family Disease

It’s safe to say that addiction can be characterized as a family disease. Nobody knows right off the bat how to effectively deal with a loved ones addiction. However, a process of recovery is available to family members and loved ones of addicts and alcoholics to help sort out negative feelings and help with the process of healing. This process typically involves being aware of specific ways in which addiction affects families and relationships while learning new skills and boundaries to implement into daily lives.

For a longtime, my family felt that I was the only person who had the issue. Of course, I was the addict, alcoholic, and the identified person. However, the longer my mother, father, and sisters held onto this belief – the problem ended up getting worse.

After treatment, I went back to the same home environment. I had changed, but my family was the same. My mother was a raging codependent. When I was happy, she was happy. When I was sad, she was sad. She lived on edge at the fear of another relapse, carrying poor boundaries and low self-esteem. My Father was emotionally unavailable, withdrawn, and my sister didn’t like that I was beginning to become healthy, wondering when I was going to drink with her again.

Everyone was hyper-vigilant, ready to run to shelter to erect their defenses up at the first sign of trouble.

Obviously, my family didn’t cause my addiction, but there were ways that they unknowingly contributed to the problem. Through my addiction, they became organized around trying to manage the unmanageability of it – and everyone played a part.

Recovery For the Family

Fortunately, recovery doesn’t just have to be for the person who quit the drugs and alcohol. Recovery involves growth, learning, and healing. Once the members of my family were able to take a look at their part, they began to develop the awareness to build skills to live a whole and healed life, support my newfound life – and at the same time, their lives got better.

When families try to alter their dynamics, they often find it is a real challenge. In many cases, counseling and therapy are able to help families better communicate on important issues and reconcile for past issues. When the group dynamic begins to function in a healthy way, an addict will more easily meet their recovery goals.

Addiction doesn’t just wreak havoc on the person who is addicted. Within the entire family system, hurt feelings, resentments, anger, and a tangled web of emotional strain affects each person who’s life the addiction touches. The whole family must recover.

4 responses to “I Gave My Mom PTSD in My Addiction

  • GhostWritten

    5 years ago

    I made sure to read the whole article
    before making a comment because just the Title was self sabotaging both for the “addict” and for the “mother” but I have learned to just keep my mouth closed when I see these stories but I’m glad in the end of the blog actual positivity was presented about how it is not just the “addicts” fault. People I have seen, heard war stories like these which my opinion is if the child is stealing, using, using themselves finally as a scapegoat to make a Title of a blog not knowing they subconsciously are still using addictive behavior by giving the “Mother” PTSD in order to still subconsciously deceive their Mother, Family, Friends etc for attention from them to gain focus back on “Self” again. I’m not saying that’s always the case but it sounds like a call out for a it’s ok and causing more damage by the”mother” getting to use the “addict” as a scapegoat for any of their internal issues they still have not fixed or taken a chance to dig deep for to realize not only do they honestly probably have PTSD from the “addict” but if they still haven’t taken any responsibility in the fact that most likely their “addict” daughter thinks their life was great from what they remember not knowing they actually have had PTSD the whole time and their mother having PTSD already as well through the relationship with the recovered Father and not really thinking ? that maybe somewhere something triggered causing PTSD for the child that now is blaming themselves causing more resentments in their mind that they gave their Mother PTSD but have no idea because of the suppressed emotions/memories that of course the Mothers “PTSD” was never a factor and they gave their child the perfect life and of course not only that it had always had to be the Fathers fault the whole time but the question is when morals and values for these war stories of how they actually both being an issue of parenting where an Addict started to steal and blame their Dad when deep in their subconscious made them think that was one of the many routes to take remembering or not that the Mother was always pointing fingers and this choice I can’t even understand besides rhat possibility of how someone could ruin another’s life by setting up their own Father or even anyone else instead of going with one of the other many choices of “hustling” and selling these drugs to support their addiction instead of steal from others or use them for money in order to make enough for that $20 in gas and be a closet addict thinking they are not doing wrong to their family and only to themselves but the fact is the rush of making money plus supporting your habit at the same time to self medicate is a serious addiction itself. The addict usually is selfish by enabling users while being used themself by the users enabling them to continue supplying to them and losing all trust in others because that lifestyle they are gaining PTSD from all of the “users” who were not raised that way seeing hustle, hustle, hustle in life if you want anything while being alone raised by babysitters and cleaning ladies but this choice still ends up where all their user buddies and crowd they are around starts stealing from them and taking advantage of their money source when they can’t get to their families their way by stealing and using them so both Addicts bring it on themselves by enabling each other the whole time thinking each other’s lifestyle is ruthless that they would take from others or the other one thinking well they make enough money off me so they “owe” me or I can “use” them like I do my family and friends and neither ever realize that this “addiction” is a curse that runs very deeps in our roots no matter if it’s drugs, shopping, eating, gambling, working, dealing drugs not realizing if they put the effort in a company they would make millions instead of risking death, death of anothers overdose, poor health, prison, by being selfish thinking they are only hurting themselves when if they are locked up, dead, or any other possibility from the addiction in the end or sooner or later no matter how self sufficient will affect the whole family, friends and anyone they made an impact ons life is not fair to leave them asking questions what they could have done, who did it, what happened, was it my fault, etc because no one just took the time by stopping and stepping back and looking at the big picture because no matter how great they remember their childhood being or who did what and or who didn’t do what the problem is “The Cycle” was never broken and until someone makes positive changes and sees that as a “team” or even on their own family they try to improve doing what they think is right by evolving and hopefully breaking the cycle Deeper engraved in ones Genes that they have no idea and usually waste time by questioning, repairing relationships that they feel they owe to others, focusing on not thinking about their addiction and what it would cause themselves and others heartache, pain, defensiveness, anger, pity, denial, loss in trust or their self worth, etc Sadly only prolongs the mindset that they they can blame it on a characteristic as a Disease which it basically is but also in my mind a negative virus for all because how you see yourself or others will lead to the never ending cycle by losing faith in Imagination and “Secret” to the answer has been engrained in our minds and we are to worried about PTSD and how it all started when the fact the “Secret” has been hidden in our minds as well waiting to be unlocked that we were told 1 thing by most people from family, friends, school, tv, etc that one can be whatever they want to be, No Limits, Self-Motivation, Trust, Faith, Live Life to the Fullest, Progress not Perfection, Goals, Set Your Mind to something and nothing can stop you, Self Will, Forgive and Forget, Tomorrow is a new day,TEAMWORK, and not only are we all told these things and many never utilize them when we read quotes of them, books, “cheesy” but True posters on every wall in Schools, Offices, Billboards, Social Media and unfortunately we are Blind to why. I don’t have the answers and neither do I know who does but I do know that to much Focus goes to Negativity instead of Positivity which is more than just a Fact worth making the “Choice” to best the disease of a Negative Mindset and choosing Positivity to live a Life as you perceive it however that makes you happy.

  • Gwen Nolte

    5 years ago

    Addicts still need to remember that this is the new family their behavior created. Many will tell you it did not start that way. I m sick of hearing how dysfunctional families keep the addict addicted , and that they have cleaned up, but the family hasn’t. You spent months and years creating this dynamic with your behavior. The jail time and rehabs were the only ‘breaks’ we got. They were not breaks from worry and concern. I am really sick of the family blame. Healing might take us longer as we don’t hit bottom, we live it, even after distancing ourselves from your disease.

    • Dysfunctional families are dysfunctional because they ENABLE the addict to continue on. Drug addiction & alcoholism is not curable. I had to change, after my 18 yrs. of messing everything up. Change everything in my life, thinking included. Since the addiction creates unhealthy patterns in the family, these patterns must change also. It is a family disease. We all need to live the 12 Steps daily. For me, sober/clean 34 yrs.

  • Cindy Kurneck

    5 years ago

    I am the mom of a former heroin user. Unlike the woman below I accept my part in it. I too developed PTSD and became this ever vigilant crazy person that would not leave my daughter alone as she struggled with remaining free from heroin. I have had to reevaluate my ‘love’. I have learned that I must trust in her ability to maintain her own sobriety. I have learned that I must have faith in love and in my daughter. I accept my part and responsibility in it. I don’t blame anyone – not me, not my daughter. There is no need to blame. I have learned to CHOOSE to stop worrying . To CHOOSE to stop spying. To CHOOSE to believe that things will turn out okay. I CHOOSE to love and believe in my daughter. And I CHOOSE to move forward with my life.

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