Jeff - LorimerDr. Patrick MacAfee, who for over forty years has worked with addiction, told me, Addicts in active addiction are self-centered and self-obsessed. Because of this, there is room for only one person in the addiction – the addict. In order to maintain his addiction, the addict manipulates, lies and connives. They have to. Parents love them and want to help, but they often unwittingly foster the addiction. It is critical for parents to get out of the way of the consequence of use. When they short-circuit the consequences, they contribute to the addiction. Think of it this way: USING = CONSEQUENCES.

My reaction: I lived in denial for a long time, living in the trap of manipulation that things would get better for Jeff as long as I could fix the problems caused by his addiction. With the help of professionals like Dr. MacAfee, education and Al-Anon meetings, I learned to remove myself from the stickiness of Jeff’s addiction. I had to learn how to stay close in love, but out of the chaos.

Today’s Promise to consider: As parents, we want to help our children by fixing their problems. Sometimes this works, but not with addiction. I will love my child unconditionally, but I cannot control his addiction. I will support his recovery while allowing him to face the consequences of his actions.



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11 years ago

The most difficult thing for me, when my son was in active addiction, was to stay out of the way of the chaos. Also, I loved him unconditionally, but I don’t think he knew it, because I didn’t give him money, I had stopped the enabling so I didn’t want him around, or see him, if he was using.

My son knew that I loved him. But, in his mind, I think he felt it was conditional. I believe he died thinking that. But, God knows, I loved him unconditionally.

Unconditional love is imperative for the using addict, and the recovering addict. If the love is conditional, the addict may feel inadequate and unable to find the courage to fight for sobriety.

It’s so important to allow the addict to suffer his own consequences. It’s also so important to pray the consequence isn’t death. I say this because my son and grandson died, both overdoses. The consequence can easily be death each time the addict uses. They never know how much is too much.

In prayer, for all of the addicted. I also pray, every single day, for the parents who come here, so they may have the courage and strength to live their lives in peace and serenity.

With love and respect,

7 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

My son has been in recovery for 3.5 months( not the first time). There r auto accident problems, income tax, and other financial issues. It’s hard not to advise him in these matters. If he was using, I would step back. Not sure what to fo

Libby Cataldi
11 years ago

Dear Barbara, I agree with you – the hardest part is staying out of the chaos. We want to help, but helping most often abets the addiction. I also agree that when we don’t enable and don’t give our sons money, they are angry. For Jeff, the word ‘no’ caused an avalanche of hostility. Death is every parent’s greatest fear. I think that’s why we enable.

My love to you. Glad you are back and writing,


Pat Nichols
11 years ago

Wonderful post Barbara. Truly appreciate you sharing.

Part of my investigation into unconditional love lead me to discover I had to first love myself unconditionally.

My continued prayers for all of our children and their families.