Dr. Patrick MacAfee and Jeff

Dr. Patrick MacAfee and Jeff

A mom wrote to me, I just read your book and would like to know how Jeff is doing now.  I realize that you probably get 40,000 such inquiries weekly, but in reading your book, your family became an extension of my own as my son continues to battle his own addiction issues. I do hope and pray that all is well and that your family has found peace and contentment.

My reflection: This Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful to be able to respond to this question by saying, “Jeff is good today! He fought a hard battle, but he made the decision to change his life. He celebrated eight years of sobriety on July 21, 2014.” I’m also grateful that this mom knows she is not alone as she watches her son struggle to find his way out of the tunnel of drug addiction. I’m grateful she reached out to us.

Today’s Promise to consider: Life is never trouble free, but today I’ll concentrate on living in gratitude. Being grateful is essential to living in serenity. For our family, we are grateful that Jeff is healthy and living a full life for over eight years. We are grateful for today and we pray for tomorrow.


Jeff with Grandma Cataldi, our prayer warrior.

Jeff with Grandma Cataldi, our prayer warrior.

A mother wrote to me: I wonder how many prayers we have lifted up as parents of addicted children? And how many prayers others have lifted up on our behalf in an effort to do something, anything to support our both tender and strong parent hearts. How many prayers are lifted up, especially during those times when there is no clear answer to, “What do I do?”

A song: Below are two stanzas of a song written by John Elliot. The lyrics serve to remind us how much comfort and strength comes to us through those who never hesitate to ‘pray us along.’


Somebody’s prayin, I can feel it

Somebody’s prayin’ for me

Mighty hands are guiding me

To protect me from what I can’t see

Lord, I believe, Lord, I believe

Somebody’s prayin’ for me.


Well, I’ve walked through barren wilderness

Where my pillow was a stone

And I’ve been through the darkest caverns

Where no light had ever shown.

Still I went on ’cause there was someone

Who was down on their knees

And Lord, I thank you for those people

Prayin’ all this time for me. 

Today’s Promise to consider: Whether I believe in the power of prayer or not, today I will send forth into the universe positive thoughts and energy for my loved one and all those who are suffering. I will bombard the heavens with requests for love and strength.






la_comunita_san_patrignano.zoomI visited San Patrignano, a recovery community in Rimini, Italy, for four days last week, where 1,500 people are in residence, all committed to learning how to live a full and healthy life without drugs. The community was started in 1978 by Vincenzo Muccioli, and the program requires a commitment of three to five years, is free to the person and to tax payers, teaches each person to work in one of fifty sectors (graphics, cooking, woodshop, building, plumbing, weaving, design) and has a documented recovery rate of 73 percent after three years of exiting the community (three studies completed the University of Bologna). There are many models for recovery, and this is one.



My reflection: When Jeff was in active addiction, he refused the option of San Patrignano. “Three to five years,” he said incredulously. “You’ve got to be kidding.” When I told a publicist in New York City about San Patrignano’s model, she said dismissively, “No one cares what they do in Italy. We are the United States.” Jeff was in 12 different short and long-term treatment centers in the United States over a 14-year period.

Today’s Promise to consider: There are many models for recovering from drugs and alcohol. Education is critical. Learning about different models for long-term care might help save my loved one’s life. I can’t force my loved one into recovery, but I can learn about and offer him options.




IMG_0387Dr. MacAfee told me, There is a difference between willingness to change and readiness to change. Many times an individual has a moment of clarity when he becomes willing to see his situation, reaches out for help, or even stops using for a while. However, willingness doesn’t mean he is ready to stop using. Moving from willingness to readiness happens when the consequences of using become more painful than the use. This begins the crises. The decision to stop using is in the addict’s hands.

My reflection: The difference between being willing and ready is clear to me, especially when I reflect on Jeff’s words that he wrote eight years ago, I was done using and I knew it. Even my bones knew it. My obsession to use with control and temperance had disappeared. I saw where things were going and knew that if I didn’t stop, I was inches away from another devastating run. I’d been in the same space countless times before and chose differently – this scenario was familiar and it always ended badly. Before getting out of bed, I called a friend from treatment who was still sober and active in the program. I explained my situation and he understood. Things changed that day. 

Today’s Promise to consider: I understand that recovery is a painstaking process, a time of transformation when our loved one shifts from the person he was and becomes the person he wants to be. When the consequences of his addiction have worn him truly thin, he follows his road home. It is a deeply personal revelation that only he can navigate.