by libbycataldi under Hope

A mom wrote to me: It’s 3:00 am, and my daughter went out to drink and use. We’ve been at this a long time. I’m writing to you because I’m awake in the middle of the night, sad, and completely powerless. I’m in this limbo of not knowing if she’s safe or not. I’m losing hope, while trying to keep hope and faith alive.

My reflection: I, too, tried countless ways to stop my son’s addiction. I dragged him to therapists, forced him into treatment centers, paid his bills, and tracked him down whenever he couldn’t be found. Fear took over my life.

Today’s Promise to consider: It took me fourteen years of watching my son chase his next high before I finally acknowledged that the power to stop him was outside my control. As humbling as it was, it was crucial for me to realize that no matter how much of myself I poured into his illness, the choice to stop was his alone. Today, I admit that I cannot control anyone other than myself. Let us keep hope alive and continue to believe and pray that our loved ones will come home, to themselves and our families.


I wrote about my son: After three years of sobriety, my son’s growth is evident. He laughs more easily, he watches more calmly, he protects himself better. He knows where he hurts, and he pays attention to what is coming. He’s more reflective, thoughtful, less impulsive, and more honest. He has good friends. Suffice it to say that he is becoming a strong and caring man. He will get better and better.

My reflection: Watching my son come back to himself after a 14-year addiction, was a joy. I cherished each accomplishment and each step forward.

Today’s Promise to consider: In the early years of recovery, my son told me, “Some mornings, I reach for a word and it’s like reaching into the fog. Other mornings, when I reach for a word, I pluck it easily out of the air. I’m frustrated that some days aren’t clear, but I guess I need to be patient with myself.” His words reminded me that we all need to be patient with our loved ones in each step of their recovery. The joy is in the unfolding, one day at a time.


Brian Mann, NPR, interviewed Drs. John Kelly and David Eddie (Harvard University), who resoundingly stated that there is hope of recovery. They noted that more than 9% of the population live in recovery, and 75% of people who suffer from substance-use disorder eventually recover. Kelly added, “I think it kind of goes against our cultural perception that people never get better. We are literally surrounded by people who are in recovery.” Research suggests that people don’t just survive, but they go forward and thrive. Eddie explained, “They end up achieving things they wouldn’t have achieved if they hadn’t gone through the hell of addiction. So, there is absolutely hope.”

My reflection: My son’s addiction lasted 14 years. During that siege, there was little research available to suggest that most people recover. All I knew was that my son was sick, and I was desperate. 

Today’s Promise to consider: There is burgeoning research about substance-use disorder and recovery. We know that addiction is hard to treat. We also know that we need additional and continuing research. This article from NPR states that five or more relapses are often the norm and that it takes eight years or more to achieve long-term remission. If our loved ones can stay alive long enough, the research says that eventually the majority recover. Let’s keep hope alive.


by libbycataldi under Faith, Hope

A mother wrote to me: I’m giving up on prayer. Recovery was going well, I thought. Making meetings, new job he likes, nice girlfriend…I was beginning to trust and hope. In the last week, money taken from my purse, relapse, and violation of probation. Now it’s back to court and maybe prison this time. I’m afraid, and I can’t do this again.

My reflection: Why does fear seem so much stronger than hope? I don’t know, but there were countless times when I, too, felt like giving up on prayer. Often it’s easier to abandon hope and faith than to keep feeling crushed.

Today’s Promise to consider: When addiction’s chaos rises up again, smacks us, and knocks us to the ground, we hurt and feel despondent. It is then that we are in danger of giving up hope. But if we lose faith, all is lost. While it’s true that our loved ones need to fight their own battles, we can choose to stay close in hope and prayer. Today, let us make that choice.


I talked with a friend, whose son is suffering from substance abuse, and I was moved by her words to her son. “I believe in you,” she told him, “Sure I’m afraid of what the future holds for you and our family, but I don’t want to breathe my fear into you. I want to give you hope.”

My reflection: There is a song lyric that I memorized years ago, “Fear can be catching worse than a cold.” Research indicates that emotions are ‘contagious,’ and that negative emotions transfer most easily. When my son was in active addiction, I’m sure he saw tension in my eyes and heard anxiety in my voice, more often than he saw or heard peace or compassion.

Today’s Promise: It’s difficult for our suffering loved ones to carry our anxieties, as well as their own. When they are in the throes of their addiction, they are struggling with obsession, shame, and the chase of the drug. When they are in early recovery, they face countless fears daily – how to get a job, how to pay rent, and how to go the next day without drugs. Today, I’ll try to bolster my serenity and breathe hope into my loved one.


A dad wrote to me: After 21 years of addiction, my son told me that during his darkest days he knew his family loved him and would welcome him back into the family when he decided to change his life. He told me that while he was working his 12 Steps, this knowledge – that home would stay close – is what gave him hope for the future. Never give up!

My reflection: My son once wrote to me, These last couple months have been trying – for both of us. Thank you for not giving up on me. You believe in me more that I believe in myself. You give me courage and strength.

 Today’s Promise to consider: Where there is life, there is hope. Let us never quit believing that recovery is possible. Addiction wants us to give up and give in. Let’s hold hands, work our own recovery program, and keep fighting the good fight. Let’s never quit believing.


by libbycataldi under Hope

The Japanese Philosopher Diasaku Ikeda tells us: Hope is a flame that we nurture within our hearts. It may be sparked by someone else – by the encouraging words of a friend, relative, or mentor – but it must be fanned and kept burning through our own determination.

Diasaku Ikeda, “On Hardship and Hope.”

My reflection: The saying, “Where there is life, there is hope,” gave me great comfort when my son was in the throes of addiction, but I never thought about hope as a decision. I looked at hope as something that was good to have, like a lucky penny or a four-leaf clover. I struggled to see how we have agency in fostering hope. Nevertheless, in my own way, I held onto the belief that Jeff would find sobriety.

Today’s Promise to consider: With addiction, we are bombarded with negative emotions. People tell us to hope, but sometimes that feels like a dream that will never come true. Diasaku Ikeda reframes the concept, reminding us that hope is a choice. Instead of being paralyzed by despair, let us nurture our hearts with the flame of possibility. On this Thanksgiving, let us believe in the infinite opportunities that are available for both our children and ourselves. Let us hope and pray that our suffering loved ones come home.


A mother wrote to me:I’ve found strength in a very close Nar-Anon group and continue to attend meetings regularly. My husband, my son’s sister, and I are here for him when HE is ready to change. We know we can’t force him to change – we’ve tried. After three failed rehab attempts, we have nothing else to give him, only love.

My reflection: Dr. MacAfee says that addiction takes the healthiest parts of love and smashes them into worry, helplessness, and hopelessness. Waiting for our addicted child to return to us is like walking through hell, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering just as we are.

Today’s Promise: In family groups like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, we discover that we are not alone. We find other families who understand our pain, heartache, and powerlessness. Today, let us not isolate ourselves. Let us take the step to accept help from other parents who know our pain. Today, we’ll reach out our hand and trust that someone will reach back.


Dr. MacAfee wrote, The addiction story is a microcosm of isolation, fear, terror, confusion, and secrecy turned inward on itself in a never-ending litany of questions: “what went wrong?” “who is to blame?” “why can’t you stop?” and “why are you doing this to us?”  This drama is far more prevalent than most people realize, until addiction enters our homes and becomes a part of our own stories.

My reflection: Fear is a powerful force. When my son was in active addiction, I lived in fear. It did me no good and, moreover, my health and family suffered as I lived the daily trauma of anxiety. Only when I surrendered, stayed close, but out of the chaos, and acted out of love did addiction’s grasp begin to lose its hold on me.

Today’s Promise to consider: Fear exacerbates addiction, but it also exacerbates our fear of the pandemic, contagion, protests on the streets, gun violence, and a myriad of issues happening today. Fear can either mobilize us into action, or it can take over and paralyze us. Today, let us meet fear with courage, with strength, and with a resolve to accept what is and to move forward with hope. Love conquers fear.



A mom wrote this poem:

Let us see
there is always hope
for healing
that light appears
in the
deepest darkest
let hope
lead us
may we
never give up
the fight
for it is a fight
to keep hope alive
but hoping on
is the only way
we who love
our struggling ones


What I wrote in Stay Close: Our ending is in the present, in Jeff’s day-to-day choosing of sobriety. Can there be celebration in the every day, in the commonplace events and rhythms of everyday life? For us, for all the families of addicts, for the addict himself, we think yes. Jeff finds hope in his daily choice of sobriety because each choice, one day at a time, signifies that he earns the right to choose again – and again, and again. There’s freedom in choice. This story is not a promise for tomorrow, but a celebration of today. Our story ends in hope because it ends in beginning.

“Never quit believing, OK, Momma?”

“I won’t quit believing, Jeff.”