A young man in recovery told me, You can’t force sobriety on anybody. My mum tried everything. She gave me money, didn’t give me money, made me go to rehab, didn’t make me go to rehab, drove down four or five hours to pick me up, and then left me somewhere. No matter how many rehabs I’ve done or how many counselors or meetings I went to, I never got it, until one day I was just sick of it and had enough. 

My reflection: Many times I tried to force sobriety on my son. I threatened him that if he didn’t go to rehab I would never give him another cent or allow him to come home again. I cried, yelled, and bargained. I would have sold my soul if that would have made the difference.

Today’s Promise: We can try to force our loved ones into recovery. We can demand they live a sober life. But with the majority of addicts, coercion, threats, or even kindness aren’t enough. People have to be ready to change for themselves. For those of us with  suffering children, we can encourage them to enter a recovery community, go to an AA meeting, or talk with someone who is living in the solution. I understand that it’s not my choice, but theirs.

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Linda Smith
Linda Smith
2 years ago

Thanks Libby for all that you do and for all the meditations. I read them every Thursday and know how very right you are. God Bless You and your family.

2 years ago

The most frustrating piece of this surreal, seemingly lifelong struggle, is that when sober, he is so intellectual, fluent , psychologically aware and such a rational, intelligent and delightful person to be around..and then this whole gift of having my son again, disappears within 24 hrs. when he relapses. It is repeatedly devastating, and takes its toll.Truly, his choice may not truly be his choice, but the influence these drugs have on his brain at the time. This truly is a disease which I believe needs medical treatment and supervision.

2 years ago

I read recently that an addict said that nothing anyone else said could make him get sober. That It had to come from the addict himself. And likewise, this is sort of repeated in what this recovering person in this article said- “you can’t force recovery”. It took me years to believe that was true. In sharing this with my recovering son, he thought for a while and then expressed his thinking on this. He totally agrees that this is true. After all, the addict is the only person who can finally make the change.

But…..according to my son, the years of rehab, the talking by friends and family, the interventions, the reasoning they all tried on him, the words said in AA, may SEEM to have fallen on deaf ears. But it all contributes (consciously or unconsciously), to the moment he makes that decision to change.
In other words, that all of those things influenced him. And when he makes the decision, those influences (good and bad) have built up and are part of his ultimate decision. I was floored that I never thought of it that way. I know I didn’t express this like he did, but it gives us parents hope. Hope that everything we have tried is still inside him. These are my son’s personal thoughts on his own journey of addiction. I will never give up on him of course, But from now on, I’ll never underestimate the potential power of my words, his support systems, etc. It sticks with them and may end up being a big part of his ultimate decision.
And that all those influences weren’t for naught!