IMGjeff7A mom wrote to me: For many years, I wasn’t in touch with my best friend from childhood, but through facebook we reconnected. I told her of my personal struggles during my son’s active addiction. She told me that my sharing this meant the world to her because she thought my life seemed perfect and was embarrassed to tell me that she had a son who was also struggling with an addiction to heroin. The door was then open to share our victories and defeats.

My reflection: When Jeff was in active addiction, I trembled every time someone asked me, “So how is Jeff?” What was I to say? The lie came easier, “Oh, he’s great – at Boston University and doing well.” I remember well when a medical person asked me about Jeff and, for some reason, I told him the truth. His response was compassionate: He had lost his only brother to alcoholism.

Today’s Promise to consider: The best response to addiction is honesty and compassion. The chaos of this disease touches many of us. We need to be judicious with whom we share the inner-workings of our lives, but I repeatedly find that when I’m transparent with my challenges, others are transparent with theirs. We are all human.


Scan31_0031-1Dr. MacAfee told me: I was leading a group therapy session when I asked a young man, ‘What is your drug of choice?’ The boy thought carefully and responded, ‘more.’ His answer was not an attempt at humor. Instead, the group answered with a consensus of silence and affirmative head nods. No addict ever intends to end up where he’s really going. Substance and the hunger for more drive the addict.

My reflection: Dr. MacAfee’s words helped me to understand that addiction wasn’t about me, my parenting, our family or Jeff’s friends. Some of these issues might have contributed to why he tried drugs in the beginning, but they’re not the reason he became an addict.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today, I acknowledge that addiction is about the substance. It’s not about me or my family. Once the substance takes over an addict’s life, it’s about the chase for the drug. No one and nothing else matter.






IMG_3783 2A mother wrote to me: My son has a long history of addiction. He got arrested and we hired a lawyer, bailed him out, but he kept using and stealing. He got arrested again and bailed himself out. We knew he was close to dying so we asked the lawyer to have the judge put him back in jail. We told our son that we would not bail him out, that we loved him but would no longer let his addiction destroy the family. All the love in the world was not enough to make him stop. 

My reflection: I, too, tried everything I could think of to make Jeff stop. I wept and told him how much he was hurting the family. I punished him, yelled at him, and refused to get him out of jail, but I also gave him money, paid his bills and included him in family gatherings. I was like a flag twisting in a tornado. Love was never the problem. The problem was his chase for the drug.

Today’s Promise to consider: All the love in the world won’t stop an addiction. Today, I accept that my child’s addiction is not against me: I will not feel betrayed; I will not feel self-blame. I will stay close and pray that my child decides to stop for himself.





IMG_0787When Jeff had been healthy for three years, I wrote: My son’s growth is evident. He laughs more easily, he watches more calmly and he protects himself better. He knows where he hurts and he pays attention to what is coming. He’s more reflective, thoughtful, less impulsive, and more honest. He has good friends. He is becoming the strong and caring man he was always meant to be. Recovery takes time.

My reflection: One year earlier, Jeff told me, “When I awake in the morning, I know if it’s going to be a good day. Some mornings, I reach for a word and it’s like reaching into the fog. I can’t grasp it. Other mornings, when I reach for a word, I pluck it easily out of the air.” He continued, “I’m frustrated that some days aren’t clear, but I guess it will take time. I need to be patient.”

Today’s Promise to consider: We all need to be patient during recovery – both addict and parent. Changing lives, behaviors and systems takes time. Today, I will remain patient with my addicted loved one and not jump ahead of the process. The joy is in sobriety, one day at a time.



image_11A recovering addict told me, I was addicted for 30 years and was never able to get sober until I turned my world and life over to a power greater than myself. You know, I’m becoming more spiritual as time goes on and it’s beautiful. Like this morning, up at 5:30 watching the sun rise, having a cup of coffee, admiring my new BBQ I bought and it was just you know, thank God, this is so great. I could not imagine myself 20 years ago in this position.

My reflection: In talking with many recovering addicts, spirituality or ‘coming to believe in a power greater than myself’ are central themes in beating addiction and living a productive, sober life. They have discovered a God of their understanding that provides them peace and perspective.

Today’s Promise to consider: There are many ways to get clean and to live a good life, but believing in something bigger than we are big, something both outside and within ourselves, can make a difference in recovery. Life still is difficult and can be sticky, but our reliance on a power greater than ourselves can give us serenity and strength.