A Personal Note – Will Moving Away Make Your Grown Child’s Addiction Go Away?


So, on this cold January day, I’d like to write a personal note about whether or not moving away will make your grown child’s addiction go away, and whether or not this is the best approach to take in your life.

Now, I should clarify one thing – if you’re moving away to distant warm lands because it’s always been your dream and you simply cannot stand one more cold, blowy winter, please take me with you!!! Seriously, though. I want to make clear that I do not think that anyone should forgo their dreams for a grown child, no matter what their situation. If you have been dreaming of sticking your toes in some warm sand while you watch the sunset over endless waters and it’s finally your turn, well, what are you waiting for? If life in a distant, romantic land filled with the best vineyards and wineries in the world is calling your name and you’re ready to go, then you should absolutely go. Life is too short to keep putting it on hold for someone that may never change, and you more than deserve to live out your dreams.

Okay, so now that we have that, let me explain why I’m thinking about this today.

My son in law’s mom has a husband who has dual citizenship between the United States and Mexico. So, every year, they go down and stay for about a month or so. It’s always in the winter, which makes me green with more than lack of sunshine myself. For a couple years, they have been talking about wanting to buy a house down there and make it their permanent home. It is my understanding that she will get some type of job, as will he, and they will age gracefully under the warm, sunny skies of this country.

When she came home from their most recent trip, she informed me that they put a contract on a house. I am so excited for her. This is what she’s wanted, and I think it will be a beautiful, and welcome change. Her life will most likely de-stress in so many ways, most of all, by leaving behind the drama and stress of my oldest and her son.

As you well know, when you have a grown addicted child, and that child is married to someone who has an equally strong habit, and they have a child, the stress seems to add up quite a lot. It can become very overwhelming, but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

So, the idea of her taking her long, leisurely runs, waking up to warm peaceful days, sipping her coffee on a veranda looking out over a sunny landscape does my heart good for her.

As we were talking, I told her that it will be nice to leave all the extra baggage that the two of us carry behind. She told me that she was telling her husband that it didn’t even feel far enough away.

Now, I can relate. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to throw up my hands and just leave. Just take my husband, pets and remaining child and just go to a place that my oldest and her husband don’t know about. I want to run, not walk there – wherever there is – but then something pulls me up short. My granddaughter. This little girl who did not ask for these parents. She did not ask for this lot in life, and if I’m not there to help her when she needs it, who will be?

The Ties that Bind

I think this is a good time to point out that I am at a completely different point in my relationship with my oldest than my son in law’s mother is with the two of them. I have washed my hands of their drama. They are adults – technically – and they want to be treated like adults, so I expect nothing but adult behavior. If something bad happens, of course, I’ll be there, emotionally, but it’s for them to get themselves out of these days. A favor occasionally is different than being bogged down in a life that I don’t want to live, and I have made that very clear to them.

However, when it comes to my granddaughter, I can’t, and won’t, leave her. Ever. My husband knows this, and wouldn’t even try to convince me to. Our home will always be her home, even if she doesn’t live with us all the time. Our hearts will always be open to her, and that connection is stronger than almost that of a parent with a child.

For us, moving far away just simply isn’t even something worth considering, because leaving her behind just isn’t an option. Taking her with isn’t either, and I’m okay with that.

We all have our reasons for sticking around. Or leaving, I guess. In the case of my son in law’s mom, she can’t handle it, so she would rather leave all her grandkids. That’s okay, I’m guessing she will still spend time, and it will be wonderful for all.

All I know is that my granddaughter, through the aged wise eyes of a four-year-old, is sad. She has heard the news and she knows that her Gammy is moving far, far away. Her heart hurts. And that hurts me. But there really isn’t anything I can do about it except try to help her through and be there for her.

Now, maybe you’re thinking of moving far away as a way to escape. Maybe you have a situation similar to what I do, and you have grandkids that really need you. Or, maybe you would be leaving behind other loved ones in order to escape from your grown addicted child.

Let me ask – how is this fair to you? If you aren’t the one who’s been dreaming of escape for any reason other than to get away from your grown child’s bad behavior, but you feel like you need to leave in order to have some peace, how is that okay?

Motivations for Leaving Matter

All I’m saying is that if you’re thinking of moving to get away from these problems, there might be another answer that you haven’t considered. There might be things you could be doing to give yourself some freedom from the situation that you haven’t tried. Yes, some of them – like evicting your grown child – can feel really harsh. They are necessary for you to get your life back, though.

Just consider your motivations for making such a big move. I will say that my husband and I are looking for a little piece of land where we can build a house. It won’t be huge, but it will be big enough, and we do believe that a fresh start in a home that hasn’t seen all the negativity of our oldest daughter’s addiction will be a much-needed relief. We also feel like moving to a home that has never been her home will take her mentality from “I used to live here, I can do what I want,” to that of a (hopefully) more respectful visitor.

At first, it felt like running, but now, we have acknowledged that it’s a move that we both really want to make. It won’t be far from where we are now, but the change and moving forward in our lives is something that we’ve needed to do for a long time.

You Can’t Run Away from Your Grown Child’s Addiction…

Unfortunately, as I think my son in law’s mom will find out, you can’t run away from your grown child’s addiction. No matter how hard you want to make it so, and no matter how much you want to escape, moving, even thousands of miles away will not make things better. In some cases, it probably makes things worse. Just because you can’t see it anymore doesn’t mean it’s not still happening.

I believe that the only thing that can really change your grown child’s life is your grown child. If you decide to make a move, that is totally your decision, and I respect that. Just don’t be upset when you don’t know what’s happening because it’s very likely that your grown child will see it as you abandoning him.

…But You Can Learn How to Handle it and Get Your Life Back

I need to tell you right now that it is possible to change your thinking and your priorities and take your life back, and it doesn’t matter how close or far you are from your grown addicted child. You just have to decide that it’s your life. It’s your house, it’s your family, and you’re setting the boundaries.

You don’t have to be too tough. You don’t have to be unforgiving or inflexible, and you don’t have to go out of your way to punish your grown child for anything. You just have to let him go to do what he does. This is something that happens in your heart and your mind, and physical distance won’t make it any easier to do because you have to be ready and willing in your heart.

Sadly, too many families of those who battle addictions never learn how to do this, or they simply cannot do it on their own. Since the focus is so often on the one that struggles with the addiction, we often forget the need to care for ourselves during this difficult time.

Here’s what you need to know: sometimes, you and the rest of your family need therapy, just like your addicted loved one, to deal with the effects of the addiction on your lives. Sometimes, you all need help reconnecting and coming together. Other times, it might just be you who needs a little help coming to terms with the situation. This is okay. It’s normal.

The good news is, that just like your insurance might cover a stint in addiction rehab if you’re one of the ones who still carry your grown addicted child on your health insurance, you and the rest of your family can have your therapy covered, too. After all, its mental health you’re dealing with, and your overall health is affected by what’s happening in life.

So, if you’re in a place where you want to get started finding your grown addicted child the right kind of addiction treatment for him, give us a call. While you’re at it, talk to us about getting some kind of help for you and the rest of your family. At the very least, you’ll find out your options and be able to start getting in control of your situation no matter what your grown addicted child does.

Before you try to run away from your grown child’s addiction, consider healing from it. You deserve to recover from this situation, and it’s time to take your life back, too. In the meantime, be well, and take care of you.