TM_061 (2)A mother wrote to me: I am the mother of a heroin addict. I wake up sick to my stomach with fear for my whole family. The impact is great and it’s tearing us apart. My son is 20 and has been into drugs since age 14 – in residential treatment for nine months at 17. He has been clean for six months and living with grandparents out of state, but wants desperately to come home, be with his friends and go back to college. My husband won’t hear of it and neither will one of his brothers. It is so hard to be the mother. I would tear out my heart and give it to him if it were to heal him and this family.

My reflection: Addiction takes prisoners. First it takes our child, and then it guns down the entire family. Parents argue, a mother’s heart breaks, a father is compelled to protect his family and siblings are angry and confused.

Today’s Promise to consider: When addiction took over my family, chaos reigned. I was drowning. In the process, I learned to educate myself and to reach out my hand to family groups like Al-Anon. I needed support for me before I could help my family and my addicted loved one. Today, I refuse to lose myself in the addiction.



Uncle Jeff and Niece Iysa making s’mores

An Italian friend sent me a poem written by the Uruguayan poet, Mario Benedetti. A young man in recovery told her that he had to hurry to finish the program, to find a job and a house. She shared this poem with him as a way of saying that recovery takes time: time to start to live again, time to reestablish connections with family and society, time to change old habits and to start new ones. Recovery is the time to learn how to live in abstinence.

How do I let you know?

How do I let you know that there is always time?…

That no one sets rules, but life …

That wounds heal …

That it never hurts to be thankful …

That nobody wants to be alone …

That to receive we must also know how to ask …

That one feels with the body and mind …

That it costs to be sensitive and not get hurt …

That it would be better to build bridges

That on them we reach the other side and also come back …

How do I let you know that no one set rules, but life? 

Today’s Promise to consider: For both the persons in recovery and their families, recovery takes time. Wounds heal, but the process takes time. New memories are made, but they take time. We may all be in a rush to start a new life together, but time can heal, and time takes time.



by libbycataldi under family
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Photo credit: Mikele Roselli-Cecconi

Terry Gorski writes, Addiction comes into our lives posing as a friend and then slowly grows into a monster that can destroy us.

(Terry Gorski, Straight Talk About Addiction)

My reflection: I was deluded by addiction. It entered our home and looked like a phase. Didn’t many teenagers smoke pot and drink beer? Surely, Jeff would grow out of it. Silently and rapidly, addiction grew fat, fed on our angst and misery and, in the end, mocked us with its strength and power. Fourteen years later, Jeff turned his back on addiction.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. It’s crucial that we parents pay close attention to the signs of impending danger so that we can intervene early. We are part of the medicine that can heal this disease. Education and closeness are the keys.



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My nephew is living a sober life after more than a decade-long addiction. A recovering heroin addict, he was on methadone for eight years while also having bouts of heroin and cocaine use. Today, he is a man who is carving out a life of strength and health. Not only is he physically fit, but he is growing in spirituality, serenity and peace as he works a strong program in the 12 steps. He’s also in charge of a sober-living house with six recovering young men. He is stepping up to his responsibilities and is deepening in wisdom and love. He inspires me with his courage.

My reflection: When Jeff was sick with addiction, I cried out to God to touch him and change his life. It took me 14 years to understand that my son had to choose. My nephew had to choose. The consequences of their addiction brought them to their knees.

Today’s Promise to consider: I won’t give up hope. Even after years of trauma at addiction’s feet, there is hope. Why do some people get well and others don’t? I don’t know, but I do know that my nephew and son are living proof that it’s possible. I pray every day that God gives them the strength to continue to choose well.


IMG_2927.TMDr. MacAfee told me, When addicts start to live a sober life, they recoup their lives. During their addiction, they looked death in the eye. This changes them. Through recovery, they break out of their isolation and learn to serve. 

My reflection: I’ve talked with many recovering addicts and they tell me that service is a key part of maintaining sobriety. They are well aware of the people they hurt and the damage they caused. In recovery, they have a strong desire to give back, to reconnect with family and their communities, and to contribute to the world around them.

Today’s Promise to consider: We have much to learn from people in recovery. They have suffered, have been marginalized and have been loathed by society. As Dr. MacAfee says, “They have looked death in the eye.” Today, I will open my heart and listen to the wisdom of those in recovery.