How to Handle the Addiction of a Loved One: the Affects of Crack Cocaine Addiction on Parenting
I want to touch on how cocaine and crack addiction affected me as a mother. It is important to know that I was the all-around great stereotypical "do it all" mom. I was proactive in all of my kids' activities, and encouraged lots of outside enrichment. I was a soccer coach, room mother, always had nightime reading, Girl Scout cookie manager, dance lessons--the whole nine yards.
I remember hearing about mothers who lost their kids and would think that those people were weak, and obviously did not love their children as much as I loved my children. I clearly remember that exact thought about 12 months before I lost all of my own children. Somehow, crack literally changes your rationality on a situation-by-situation basis, until before you know it, you bear not even a slight resemblance to the parent that you had been for many years. It happens so gradually, you don't even realize you are changing until it is way too late. No one is immune to this process and I saw it happen to many mothers and families.
I cannot stress enough that I WAS that ideal parent and had my children started on a very successful and idyllic childhood.
As the drug slowly takes a stronger hold on the user, the user slowly starts to rationalize certain behaviors, such as leaving the children with the babysitter until 9:30 at night when I got off at 4:30. Or running out quickly in the middle of the night to get more drugs, because they are sleeping and I'll be right back.
Or in my case, asking my mother to babysit for the evening and staying gone for a week, because she was a teacher and on spring break that week. I actually returned to her house at 6:30 the following Monday morning when she was due back at school, expecting to pick up my kids and take them home. At the time, I thought I was behaving within reason.
The important thing to remember with addicts, especially in the early stages (first year or two) is that THEY have NO concept of what they are doing. They have become experts at lying to not only everyone around them, but most especially at lying to THEMSELVES. On some level, they have rationalized every behavior that they are demonstrating. At this point in the addiction, your main goal should be on the best interest of the children first, no matter what.
At the time my children were taken away, I was full of anger and resentment; however, I am now SO grateful that people cared enough to spare my children from going down that awful road with me. If you are reading this trying to educate yourself about how to handle the addiction of a loved one, you must understand that children of addicts need to be nowhere around an actively addicted parent.