jeff_italy_09The daughter of addicted parents wrote to me: I am the grown daughter of two addicts and know first-hand how truly cunning and powerful this disease is. It is a family illness and one with far-reaching and long-lasting implications. Even when the wounds have healed, the scars remain. 

My reflection: Addiction affects all of us who love addicts. How does a child of addicted parents make sense of the volatility, the selfishness, the continual crises and trauma? It takes courage. Courage to face the truth about the parents we love. Courage to fight our way out of the chaos. Courage to learn to live with the knowledge of what happened.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction leaves scars. Like every battle, deep wounds remain. Today, I will find the courage to learn from the addiction and all the trauma that my family and I suffered. I will protect myself, grow stronger and reach out my hand to help others.


FullSize.TM-3 (2)A mother wrote to me: My son is using heroin. I tried to help him, but I also know that I enabled him more than helped. I recently told him he had to leave my home after money went missing again. I questioned myself – was I wrong or right? He said he wasn’t using again, but then I found proof that he was. It is the constant questioning of myself and my feelings that is breaking me. I want so badly to believe him, to believe he is telling me the truth, but it’s hard, especially when time after time I find out that I have been fooled.

My reflection: It took me years to admit that my addicted son was lying. Not only did he lie about his drug use, he lied even when he didn’t have to. Lies became a way of life. I finally learned not to listen to his words, but to watch his actions.

Today’s Promise to consider: We want to believe our children for two reasons: 1. Because we love them and want to trust our relationships, and 2. Because if we don’t believe them, we have to do something about their use. In time, I finally had to acknowledge the level of duplicity and deception my son was living. He lied in order to keep his addiction. Honesty is the critical part of recovery – for both of us.

The Big Book, pg 58: They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.









04-Jeff photo shoot 304A mother wrote to me: Our son, who is now 26, cannot get sober from heroin addiction. He was clean for eight months, got married and is back on it again. He has been an addict since he was 19, starting with marijuana, then methamphetamine and now heroin. He has been in jail, then prison and at this time he is on probation again. He has been to five or six rehabs. How long will this last? When will he ever be ready to change?

My reflection: The answer to this question would be like finding the Holy Grail. All of us who love an addict want to know, “When will that moment of clarity happen?” Our prayer is that it happens before it’s too late.

Today’s Promise to consider: I had to admit that I had no power over my son or his addiction. I had to admit that I wasn’t in control of when he would be ready to change. I had to admit that I had no ability to stem the endless stream of negative consequences that resulted from his using. All I could do was stay close and pray that he would soon reach that moment of grace when he would make a decision to change.


Dr. MacAfee and Jeff

Dr. MacAfee and Jeff

Dr. MacAfee explains, The word saint used in the context of addicts is controversial, but there’s an important distinction to be made between recovering addicts and those who are abstaining from drugs. Abstinence is the beginning, the time when the addict puts down the drugs. Recovery is a transformative process when the addict moves, step by step, into living a life of truth. Recovery happens when the addict leaves the hell that he has been living and moves to a place of belonging, of contribution, of coming alive. His defensiveness goes down and he knows that honesty is his only way to health. With this transformation, his humanity starts to emerge.

My reflection: When Dr. MacAfee told me that addicts were saints in the making, Jeff was still sick and had been sick for 14 years. What I heard in Dr. MacAfee’s words was hope. Hope that Jeff would recover and grow to be the person he was meant to be.

Today’s Promise to consider: When our loved one is in active addiction, life is suffocating. But when he decides deep down to recover and takes the diligent steps healing requires, he comes back with a burning desire to be of service to others. He regains his humanity and chooses a life of truth and purpose. In this transformation, he is, to me, a saint in the making.