RomeAn Italian college student, who lives in Rome, wrote to me. She is the sister of an addict:  I want to share with you a poem I love. I’ve read it many times and each time I hope my brother, too, will arrive at the “Fifth Chapter.”

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, by Portia Nelson

I:  I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost … I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.

II:  I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place, but it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

III:  I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in … it’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

IV:  I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

V:  I walk down another street.

My thoughts: We are responsible for making the choice to get ourselves out of the hole of addiction or despair. No one can make this decision for us. It is a singular and personal choice.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today I will fortify myself by joining hands with others. I will break the bonds of isolation and fear that feed addiction. I’ll reach out my hand, pray and continue to believe. I will walk down another street.





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Michael and Libby in the woodworking shop at San Patrignano

Michael wrote to me from San Patrignano, a recovering community in Italy: My story is very similar to Jeff’s. My life was a mess: I was thrown out of rehabs and out of the Marine Corps; I dropped out of college on a baseball scholarship and walked out of countless treatment centers. I was convinced that I was the smart one doing heroin, ‘living the good life,’ while everyone else was living the ‘sucker’s life.’ 

My mother frantically searched for a cure to fix me. We tried 12-step, medication, therapy, in-patient, out-patient. I wasn’t having any of it. 

Just when everyone was prepared to write me off as a lost cause, my mother found your book and was deeply moved by its reality and truth. Somehow she picks San Patrignano out of your book and has the courage and determination to “Stay Close” and never give up hope. 

We traveled to Rimini and I entered San Patrignano, but with a different attitude. As they say in AA/NA, I was ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ 

San Patrignano has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. The Marine Corp was a walk in the park compared to this place. Here I was literally taken by the hand and shown how to start living a different way. 

I’ve been sober for 3 and ½ years. Thanks to you and your sons for reaching out and trying to comfort and help people who are struggling.   

This past Saturday, I traveled to San Patrignano to visit Michael. My heart was filled with joy to see him healthy and strong. I admire both him and his mother for their courage, and their story inspires me. Thanks, Michael, for sharing your story. Jeff, Jeremy and I wish you only good things. We’re here, staying close. 

Today’s Promise to consider: It takes courage to confront addiction, both by the addict and by those who love him or her. But where there is life, there is hope. Today, we’ll keep believing.



DSC02942Memorial Hermann Medical Center, Houston, Texas: Jeff and I were invited to speak at the Prevention and Recovery Center. Before our presentation, I passed through the audience as people began to fill the space, introducing myself and welcoming individually each person. I saw a young man about 24-years old, sitting alone, head down. When I approached him, he looked up skeptically, probably wondering what I wanted. I thanked him for coming and asked, “How long have you been sober?” He pulled up his shirtsleeve, looked at his watch and said, “22 hours and 14 minutes.”

My reaction: “That’s an accomplishment,” I said softly. “Jeff tells me one day is a huge effort. Congratulations. Keep coming back. We’re glad you’re here.” He smiled, looked again at his watch and never looked back at me. It didn’t matter. He was there; he came to hear us speak about hope and healing. I don’t know if he stayed sober or not, but since that day I’ve kept him in my good thoughts and prayers.

Today’s Promise to consider: The fight for sobriety takes many faces, but it is never easy. Victory is hard earned, one step at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time or 22 hours and 14 minutes at a time. To all the recovering addicts who are continuing the fight, stay strong. We are with you.































a-simple-path-to-letting-goA mother wrote: I bailed my son out and fixed it all. When I finally went to Families Anonymous and Nar-Anon, I realized I didn’t cause the addiction and I can’t change it – only he can do that. I realized that by enabling, I was doing him more harm than good. 

He was arrested again and remained in jail for three weeks. No one to bail him out, he worked on his own with a public defender to get accepted into drug court in lieu of jail. He now goes to meetings, is drug tested and meets with the judge. I learned to let go with love. 

My reaction:  I have spoken with many young addicts across the country and they have told me, My addiction is not my parents’ fault. Drugs are more powerful than you can imagine. When I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired, I made the choice to change my life. When the consequences of my addiction got to be more than I could live with, I made the decision for myself.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will stay close to my child, but I will no longer be dragged under by addiction. I will give my loved one the dignity to make his own choices. I won’t abandon him, but I’ll wait for him to make the decision of health, not for me, but for himself.