Jeff - Camogli - 1Jeff told me, There is a difference between enabling the addict and supporting his recovery. Active addicts are great liars and manipulators – they have to be because those behaviors help protect the using, the one thing we’re most afraid of losing. Addicts are not trying to hurt their families, but parents are typically the easiest places to find money. It’s helpful when parents support the sobriety process, but often the addict manipulates their desire to help and those resources (money, places to live, cars, etc.) are used to continue using. 

My reflection: Jeff’s addiction lasted fourteen years. While it is true that he was in love with drugs, it is also true that I was part of the problem. We once spoke in Oklahoma, and a man in the audience asked Jeff, “If your mother had quit paying for everything, do you think your run with addiction could have been shortened?” Jeff answered, “Addicts need money and we can find it in lots of places, but my mom made it a whole lot easier.”

Today’s Promise to consider: There are times when it’s difficult to see the clear line between enabling and supporting our loved ones. I will allow my sons to feel the consequences of their choices because fixing their problems doesn’t help them. I will give them the opportunity to learn without my interference, but my emotional support is unwavering.






Desert Flower - 1A mom wrote to me, It is with a very sad heart that I write to you today. Although we had some wonderful times with my son upon his return from the service, I came home from work on Wednesday and found him dead in his room. I am devastated that it ended this way. He was such a loving son and cared deeply for his family and friends. A friend wrote to me and said what a good mother I was and that I did all I could, etc. I know I tried to do my best, but there was something troubling him that I could not help him with. Heroin was what he sought for comfort.

To this mom: I’m deeply and profoundly sorry for your loss. Your pain and suffering are beyond my comprehension. This is the worst nightmare, the greatest fear for those of us who love an addict. My sons and I will continue to fight addiction. We will continue to take it out of the shadows and put it into the light where we can see it and work to defeat it. You are not alone.

Today’s Promise to consider and her request: She asked me to,“Please remind your readers to never give up hope. Even though our journey ended tragically, I didn’t give up hope. This is giving me strength right now.”


photo 3Jeff recently told me: I read a book about Zen Buddhism where the author poses a kind of recipe for living. He says, “Live ethically, compassionately and with generosity.” He further explained, “Don’t do anything that you know is wrong, be kind to the people around you and be generous with what you have.” This simple formula really struck me, as I tend to overcomplicate good advice. I think most of us have the natural ability to discern if we are being ethical, compassionate and generous. Today I make a concerted effort to live my life according to these three principles.   

My reflection: There is no perfect method for living life. When Jeff was sick, I felt bombarded with other people’s judgments and advice. Inside all the clutter that was my life, it was up to me to choose how to live and what decisions to make. These three words above provide a framework.

Today’s Promise to consider: Every day I have choices to make as to how I conduct myself. Today, I choose to live ethically, compassionately and generously. I will look at my daily behavior through these three lenses.






351A mom, a friend I met a year ago, told me: I have much to tell you, but here’s the abbreviated version: My son is clean from heroin and all drugs for five months. He went to Europe to visit family over Christmas and to clean up. When he returned, he immediately picked up again. Within a week, he called and begged me to return and live abroad, afraid he was going to die here. I gave him my blessing. Today, he has five months behind him, working two jobs and saving his money. All this without my help. I know nothing is written in stone, but I know you must so rarely hear the good stories, the stories of hope.

My reaction: When I met this mom, her son was not good and was in-and-out of jail. I met her daughter, too, and the three of us discussed addiction as a family disease and how hope is one of the first things to be suffocated. When this happens, addiction wins the fight. We cannot let that happen.

Today’s Promise to consider: Hope is essential for parents of addicts. Through hope, we keep a connection with our loved ones, no matter how far they’ve fallen. Hope is fragile and it’s a choice, but it will be my choice.