A mother wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: My son is an alcoholic. Today he is eight days sober. The guilt, the shame, the regrets, the questions won’t leave, but for today my chest doesn’t hurt. I listen to his words, the way he says them, and I also listen for the words that don’t get voiced. As a teacher, I feel like fraud. How can I help others or work with parents, when I can’t help my own son. My grandfather drank, my dad drank, my sister drank. I hope and pray and cry and bargain with God to help my son stay strong, but I know that the choice is his and he may choose death not sobriety.

My personal reflection on the passage above, offering my thoughts and considering my family’s struggle and pain: I wanted to know where addiction came from: was it a disease, was it moral failure? After a lot of reading, I’ve concluded that it is a disease. Just like my cancer was a disease, so is addiction. How do we fight the disease of addiction? By stopping the flow of drugs and working toward recovery. But just as I had to choose to fight my cancer, my son had to choose to fight his addiction.

Today’s promise to consider, for all of us who love addicts: I will stay close, but he must wage the war. Dear Lord, give my son the desire to fight for his own life. Help me to know how to help him and how not to enable the addiction.

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Pat Nichols
13 years ago

I wonder how, we as parents, can truly know when to help and when not to?

Perhaps someone could put together a manual with specific tabs we can immediate flip to that answers our questions. I suspect it would be a rather thick manual! 🙂

Libby Cataldi
13 years ago

You’re right, Pat! I spoke with a group of drug counselors and a therapist said, “You parents want a checklist of things to do and not to do. There is no such list!” Her tone was accusatory and I responded, “We parents are in pain. We don’t know what to do. We need help and direction.”

I’m afraid that even therapists get tired of dealing with addiction and they forget that we all need compassion – parents, too :).

Maybe there are no ‘correct’ answers in this world of addiction, but we learn from each other and pray.

Thanks for responding. My best to you.

13 years ago

Pat, I wondered almost the same thing today as I left my 16 year old who is currently in a treatment program