“How do I get out of his way but stay close?”

A mom wrote to me: My son is in the thick of alcohol addiction. This last year has been particularly difficult with a third DUI and forced hospitalization. There have been some patches of clarity and health, but the battle rages. A few days ago I finally accepted the fact that my help, over all these years, was not helping and that I could no longer allow him to live with me. Is it possible to stay close if I withdraw my support of a place to live? How do I get out of his way but stay close?

My reflection: After fourteen years of addiction with my son, I changed my behavior: I didn’t give him money and didn’t allow him to live at home; however, I never stopped taking his phone calls and I continually reminded him that he was loved. I told him that once he was healthy again, home and family were waiting for him.

Today’s Promise to consider: We each must answer the title question for ourselves, but for me, I learned to stay close and, at the same time, allow my son to face the consequences of his addiction. As parents, we often turn ourselves inside-out in an effort to ‘fix’ our addicted children, until we realize that our help isn’t always helping. In some confounding way, when I got healthier so did my son.


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Philip ColamarinolibbycataldiPat Nichols Recent comment authors
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Pat Nichols

Thanks Libby, I think this is the number one question we as parents of addicted children have. The book you wrote, “Stay Close” was a big help to my wife and I. In addition, fully educating myself on the disease of addiction and accepting that it is a disease, a mental illness, was critical for my own recovery but another key element is having a twelve step sponsor and a alcohol drug counselor who kept my wife and I accountable in our personal recovery journey. Recovery for the family and the addicted child is a life long commitment. It took… Read more »

Philip Colamarino
Philip Colamarino

What a tough lesson for all parents to learn. The sooner we allow children to face the consequences of their actions the sooner they learn to make better decisions. We raised 8 children and were still learning with the 8th. Always love them but tough love is often the best.