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Archive for January, 2011

Let Go and Love

A recovering addict wrote a message to me. This is part of it: I am twenty-three and also a recovering addict. And the one thing that I have is my mom’s love and support. Not a dollar for the attorneys, gas, cigarettes..nothing. When she started Al-Anon it helped save my life that much more. Parents have to let go and let God. I have seen many people die from this disease and, as sad as it may be, you have to help him help himself. Not just you helping – that gets us nowhere. I’ve been to rehabs and moved a hundred times. My advice to parents: Let go and love.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: This young man says it all. He is honest and straightforward and his courage resonates throughout his words. His experience as an addict, watching his friends die and knowing that each addict must find his own way gives all parents a valuable perspective. He has let go of resentments, those feelings that drag people back into active addiction, and he is taking responsibility for himself. Thanks to him for sharing.

Today’s Promise for all of us to consider who love addicts: I’ll take this advice to heart: Let go and love. I’ll stay close to my child and I won’t abandon him, but I won’t enable his addiction. I’ll give my child love, compassion and support and the dignity to face the consequences of his choices.

Decision Making: Theirs and Ours

A mother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: We have tried to stay close to our addicted son, but I think instead I have been enabling him. We hired a lawyer the first time, but my son did something worse and ended up in jail anyway. The last time, we got an attorney again, but with similar results. I know my son needs long-term rehab, but how does he leave everything and go away for a year or more? I don’t know what to do to save our son.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: As parents, we want to save our children. But addiction is a confounding disease and we find that we are oftentimes powerless. Dr. MacAfee writes, “Family members repeatedly blame themselves and try to straighten out the addict. This is a mission filled with good intention, but unless the addict is ready to stop, good intentions are exploited. Addicts will do anything in their power to keep using, and family will do anything in their power to stop them.”

Our addicted children have to make the choice to get and stay clean. We can love them through it, but in our attempt to save them we often enable. This vicious cycle must be broken.

Today’s Promise to consider for all of us who love addicts: I will stay close and allow my loved one to choose a life of sobriety. I must stop denying him the consequences of his addiction. He must make the decision for himself and I must respect my boundaries.


A brother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: I worked at a restaurant with my older brother and, after a few weeks, I started seeing clearly his actions, who he was hanging out with and what he was doing. I realized that he was an addict. I watched his life spiral out of control and I warned him that I would tell our parents what was happening. After months of threatening him and praying that he’d stop, I told my parents. Through my own tears, I told them that I was losing my brother to drugs. They sat in disbelief…it was too hard for them to grasp. At that moment, I hated my brother: I hated him and I loved him. It was all so confusing.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: The Big Book of AA calls addiction a “confounding illness.” The boundaries of hate and love collide, family loyalties are threatened, brothers fight against brothers, and parents don’t know what to do. We parents try to save our families, but how do we protect everyone, including ourselves? Somehow we have to find a place where we are able to stay close to our addicted child while keeping ourselves and our other children out of the chaos.

Today’s Promise to consider for all of us who love addicts: I will talk with my non-addicted children about what is happening in our family. I will listen to them and try to understand their confusion and fears. I might even share mine. I will offer them help in An-Anon, Alateen or another counseling program.

Decision Making: The Gift of Time

This is part of a journal entry that I wrote seven years ago: I don’t have the energy to deal with this: my son’s addiction and the chaos that comes with it. Where do I end and where does he begin? How much of a safe haven do I provide? Do I allow him to come home, again? I’m confused and I need time to think.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: When I allowed Jeff’s addiction to be in control of my life, I lived in fear that if I didn’t take action immediately and decisively that my son would go onto the streets and something worse would happen. I allowed fear to rule my behavior and I gave up my will to the addiction.

I’ve learned that I don’t have to decide at that moment. When my son called me in times of crisis and demanded an immediate answer, I didn’t have to give it. The addiction was hungry and wanted my life as well as his. I gave myself the gift of time. When I allowed myself time to think, I could breathe again.

Today’s Promise to consider for all of us who love addicts: No one can force me to make a decision and very few decisions have to be made immediately. With time to think, my decision will be better. I will give myself this gift of time.

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