A recovering addict wrote to me: Addiction seems to be the epidemic of our world today destroying not only the addict, but also everyone around him. I read about Jeremy’s pain and frustration, and see my little brother’s hurt and inner battle. But the message is still hope. We are not alone. Ironic that a disease that is afflicting millions of people is a disease that isolates us. It does this because the one true defense, the true power against addiction, is standing together, walking together and holding each other as we trip and stumble.

My thought: These words strike me as true. Dr. MacAfee says it another way, “Only by taking addiction out of the darkness where it does its best work and into the light can it be healed.” Addiction thrives by isolating the addict and his family. If the addict keeps the secret, he keeps the addiction. Only by standing together in honesty, holding hands and working together, can we fight this disease.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will not keep the secret of addiction. I will not isolate myself in shame, stigma and silence. I will fight against addiction for my loved one and myself.




Jeremy asked me (May, 2009): “How will you end the story about Jeff?”

I admitted, “I don’t know, Jer. It’s not my story to end.”

His answer was clear, “But that’s the point. We don’t know what will happen to Jeff, but no one can ever take away our hope. You have to end the story in hope.”

And we did.

My reaction today: Jeremy was wise. In the midst of Jeff’s fight against his addiction, Jeremy, the younger brother, knew that we could never give up hope. He held tightly to this even when my resolve faltered. Jeremy helped me to be strong.

Today’s Promise to consider: Jeff is healthy today and our family is deeply grateful. We are humble as we continue to learn and grow each day. Jeremy taught me that hope is a powerful source of strength.





A mother wrote me an email message. This is part of it: I still grieve my lost son. I’m grateful that he is sober, but I don’t know this son, not really. Although he seems gentle and kind, he keeps me somewhat at arm’s length and I suspect he doesn’t know what to do with “Mom” who he is getting to know again. Some days the loss of “family” as I have defined it in my own head is overwhelming…other days, I can feel optimistic about our new beginning as a family. I need to be patient with myself.

My personal reflection on the passage offering my thoughts today: Jeff talked with a group of young recovering addicts ages fourteen to eighteen. One boy said, “I can’t even listen to the same music I used to. It brings back memories and I sometimes feel the urge to use when I hear it.” Jeff replied, “Yeah, I get it. When I got sober, I didn’t even know what color I liked. I had to learn what I was about without drugs. I had to get to know me.”

When he said this, I realized that we all have to get to know each other again. After fourteen years of drug addiction, Jeff changed, Jeremy changed and so did I. Dr. MacAfee told me, “Just stay quiet with Jeff. He’ll feel your quiet support and he’ll take the time he needs to do what he needs to do to be true to himself.”

Today’s Promise to consider: I’ll be patient with my loved one and with myself. We are growing and changing. I’ll stand quietly with him, next to him and love him through to truth.


Pappa Jeremy and Iysabella Carmela

A friend wrote a poem about hope and this is part of it: Looking far behind, Will never help you find what’s true…Because you can’t relive it, Or somehow try to give it, Another shot. Although you’d like to rearrange it, The truth is you can’t change it; It’s done. Good-bye. Not what you’d hoped, Or wanted…So start revising hopes and dreams, To fit what is, not what it seems…You can leave the past behind you now, And say instead a quiet vow, To make your future wish come true, By being strong, By being you.

My personal reflection on the message of the poem offering my thoughts today: When our children or loved ones suffer, we suffer. I was filled with guilt and beat myself up with questions like, “What could I have done differently? How could I have saved my son and my family from this tragedy of addiction?”

The lines above seem true to me. I can’t change our past: It’s done – Good-bye. I admit that it isn’t what I had hoped for or prayed for. But as Jeff wrote, “Addiction has changed my life, made me a different person, and in many respects my life is richer because I was forced to confront myself or die. My past is my past and I can’t turn this path around or change the footsteps that follow me. Drugs were my life, but drugs left me empty.”

For my family and me, we must continue to look to the future and be strong. I must be strong for my sons. It’s the best gift I can give them. It’s is the best gift I can give myself.

Today’s Promise for us to consider: Today I won’t look back in the rearview mirror. I’ll give myself the permission to leave the past behind and to look forward with hope.


A mother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: Things are better at the moment, but we have ups and downs. I am working on the “loving with detachment” issue. I spend hours each day analyzing where I went wrong as a parent or what I should have done differently. I’ve been to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and private counseling, but the pain is always there. The best advice I ever received was from my counselor who told me, “Keep on telling her you love her and mean it because you’ll never regret those words.”

My personal reflection on the passage offering my thoughts today: There is a Tibetan expression, “Even if the rope breaks nine times, we must splice it back together a tenth time. Even if ultimately we do fail, at least there will be no feelings of regret.”

The Director at San Patrignano said it a different way, stagli vicino – “stay close to him.” Loving with detachment was a hard concept for me to understand, but I understood clearly stagli vicino – “don’t abandon him, but don’t give him money.” This made sense to me and, in the end, this is what helped our family and my son.

Today’s Promise to consider: Today I will stay close to my child. Even if he is unlovable and certainly when he is at his worst, I will stay close.