Photo Credit: Michelle Elvy

A mother wrote to me: I’ve found strength in a very close Nar-Anon group and continue to attend meetings regularly. My husband, my son’s sister and I are here for him when HE is ready to change. We know we can’t force him to change – we’ve tried. After three failed rehab attempts, we have nothing else to give him, only love.

My reflection: Dr. MacAfee says that addiction takes the healthiest parts of love and smashes them into worry, helplessness and hopelessness. In family groups like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, we discover that we are not alone. We find other families who understand our pain, heartache and powerlessness. Waiting for our addicted child to return to us is like walking through hell, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering just as we are.

Today’s Promise: I will not isolate myself during this traumatic time, but will accept help from other parents who know my pain. I am not alone. I’ll reach out my hand and trust that someone will reach back.


Niece Iysa and Uncle Jeff.

Niece Iysa and Uncle Jeff.

Honoring Achievements: Jeff was in active addiction for fourteen years. It was impossible to see a future for our family that was healthy and complete. I was mired in confusion and Jeff was slowly destroying himself. This week, I’m reminded of how very much our lives have changed as Jeff celebrates the fifth anniversary of his music label Cascine. Our family honors this milestone alongside Jeff.

My reflection: When in the throes of active addiction, life – for both the addict and the family – becomes a struggle for health and survival. Things often change dramatically when sobriety enters the picture. Reminders are all around us, when we stop and look for them.

Today’s Promise to consider: It’s imperative to never give up hope with our addicted loved ones. There are many success stories of people who have survived an addiction and come home to themselves and their families. Jeff is one of the lucky ones. Today and every day, we’re grateful.



06-Jeff photo shoot 327

Photo credit: Mikele Roselli Cecconi

A mother wrote me to: My son is back in detox for the second time in less than four months. Hopefully this time he will also go through rehab and stay sober, but I don’t know. I pray that his journey will not be long and hard, but somehow I fear it may. I pray that I have the strength and knowledge to know the difference between helping my son and enabling him. 

My reflection: I was never very good at knowing where the line was between enabling and helping. Addiction forced me to make decisions that were difficult and, oftentimes, life threatening. In the end, I learned to stay close, but out of the way of the chaos. It’s an inexact science, but I found a way to love my son without being tossed around by the waves of his addiction.

Today’s Promise: I admit that I don’t always know how best to help my child, but I will continue to learn. I will not blame, accuse or berate. I will be an active participant in my support groups, stay close and trust God.



Photo Credit: Mikele Roselli Cecconi

Photo Credit: Mikele Roselli Cecconi

A mother wrote to me: Today I went to my first Al-Anon meeting or at least that is what I thought I was going to. Instead it was the Narc meeting for the users. So instead of hearing from family members about their loved one’s addictions, I heard from the addicts themselves. It was very eye opening and humbling to be there and to hear their struggles.

My reflection: During the many years that Jeff was swallowed by addiction, I never realized the pain that he felt. Dr. MacAfee told me that it was impossible for me to imagine how poorly my son saw himself, that living inside his skin was more than Jeff could bear at times. The heaviness of his reality, combined with all the lies he struggled to maintain, was soul crushing. 

Today’s Promise to consider: It’s so very hard not to make our loved one’s addiction about us, not to take their continued missteps personally. Once I told my son, “You have a lot of courage to try to get well again.” He responded quietly, “Courage. That’s a word rarely used with addicts. Yeah, it takes courage.” As a mom, my pain is huge, but I must understand that I will never truly grasp what he is going through. Today, I will pray for strength and compassion.