Addiction does not discriminate. Alcoholism does not discriminate. There are no deciding factors which organize between who will become addicted to drugs and alcohol and who will not. Likewise, there seems to be little law of the land when it comes to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. How is it that some kids seem to recover effortlessly and stay successfully sober for the rest of their lives while other teens relapse chronically, never succeed, or die of relapse? This is a question your teenager or adolescent is likely to ask themselves at some point as they start to gain weeks, months, and years of sobriety time. Sadly, relapse is part of recovery for many teenagers and adolescents. Relapse does not have to be part of your teen’s story. Your teen will continue to grow and evolve as they watch their peers struggle. At some point your teen might develop a brief case of impostor syndrome: believing that they don’t deserve to be sober or have the life they’ve created in recovery. The New York Times explains the origins of impostor syndrome in “Learning To Deal With Impostor Syndrome”. In 1978 two psychologists by the names of Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes gave the syndrome its namesake. According to the article, the psychologists described the experience of impostor syndrome as feeling “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” When impostor syndrome onsets, it has a certain air of anxiety and paranoia. Suddenly, feeling like an impostor, one becomes overly anxious about being ‘found out’ or ‘exposed’ as being a ‘fraud’. The article offers an illustration of a venn diagram with two circles where one circle says “Making something look ‘easy’ and the other says ‘Discounting its value’. Where the two circles meet is impostor syndrome. Recovery does not require any particular level of intelligence or creativity, but it does, as it is emphasized in the texts of 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, the capacity to be honest. Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness are also designated requirements along with commitment. Staying sober every single day is an accomplishment. Learning to live a better life, have healthy relationships, succeed in school, participate in extracurricular activities, be close with family- all of the gifts of recovery are accomplishments as well. One day your child might develop the impostor voice which tells them they are ‘faking it’. Since they haven’t picked up a drink or drug, this voice will be confusing. Didn’t they go to treatment? Haven’t they stayed in therapy? Aren’t they staying sober day after day? Overcome with guilt and anxiety similar to the trauma related survivor’s guilt, your child might start to fret about the value of his life. Does he deserve this life of sobriety? Has it been too easy to recover? Should he be struggling more? Why has this good life happened to him but not to others? As a parent, none of these questions have easy answers. Often, these questions are hard to hear from our sons as the fear of relapse lives in us. In our next blog, we’ll discuss strategic ways to help your son overcome these moments of impostor syndrome and recognize the value of his life in recovery.
Your boy has the potential for a life beyond his wildest dreams. Watching your son struggle with drug and alcohol addiction is heartbreaking. Thankfully, there is a solution. Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center is located in the rolling countryside of Mississippi, offering long term residential treatment for adolescent and teenage boys. If your family is in need of help, our family is here to support you. Call us today for information: 662-598-4214