Photo Credit: Davood Madadpoor

Dr. MacAfee, our beloved addiction therapist, wrote: Allowing addicts to stand accountable for their behavior and consequences is difficult for families in the beginning; staying close and out of the way is often reported as feeling “unnatural.” However, complaining, threatening, and hand wringing rarely succeeds. Staying close to the addict and out of the way of the insanity is encouraged. For families dealing with active addicts, I recommend offering them roads to recovery, not more money or bailouts. Watching a loved one who’s failing is terrifying, but enabling them to avoid the consequences of their actions only prolongs the sickness.

My reflection: Our family did a whole lot of ‘complaining, threatening, and hand wringing.’ As Dr. MacAfee mentions, these never worked with our son. It wasn’t until Jeff had to face the natural consequences of his addiction that he made a decision to change his life.

Today’s Promise to consider: I can’t force my addicted loved one into health, but I can allow him to face the repercussions of his addiction. For fourteen years I feared Jeff would die – the single most horrifying outcome for any parent – but in the end I could only offer roads to recovery, continue to love him, and pray for a better future.



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LauralibbycataldiMindy BartholomaelibbycataldiPat Nichols Recent comment authors
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Pat Nichols

It takes us awhile to accept the truth of Libby’s post. That’s only natural as we have to let the chaos of our child’s addiction wear us out. Once it does I found it very helpful to work with a professional alcohol/drug counselor. I even did what he told me to do! He suggested I join a 12 step parent support group ( and get a sponsor by my 3rd meeting. I did and I even did what my sponsor suggested! I met others that were struggling also and it was very helpful to be around other parents of addicted… Read more »

Mindy Bartholomae
Mindy Bartholomae

My Families Anonymous sponsor recommended your book, Libby, which i am now reading. Parallel stories, ours. I feel as though I have had a breakthrough over the past few months where even though I had been involved with FA for many years, my compulsion with fixing my son was still eating me alive. I just got so tired of the constant fear and worry. I participate in the FA online eMeeting which is available 24/7. There are many wise souls in this group and the power of expressing my thoughts in writing is cathartic. I, too, have learned to reach… Read more »


The truth is that our addicts can die as a consequence of their addiction, but consequences can also motivate them to change. I have been struggling with the fine line between enabling and helping for the past decade, and admit that I have tended to fall on the side of enabling and rescuing. But I have also done the tough love thing and allowed my son to spend time in homeless shelters, on the street and finally let him face a four year prison sentence. While he was in prison I tried to stay close without rescuing, but at times… Read more »