RESPONDING TO QUESTIONS ABOUT ADDICTION

A mom wrote to me: I’ve noticed a few derogatory comments on facebook regarding Whitney, the “drugggie.” I’ve responded by asking for their compassion. Give me some suggestions for other responses. 

Dr. MacAfee responds:  I don’t believe silence is warranted. You don’t need to explain, but you might describe and share, e.g., “My daughter is an addict. People don’t understand until they encounter addiction through a loved one and not the sensationalism of media that it’s very personal and more prevalent than people know or understand.”

I always share with my students that the addict is not having fun; he or she is addicted. The party ended long ago and the addict is now in a sandstorm of despair and trauma. No need to sensationalize the addiction or the experience. Just telling the truth of it is enough.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will share my personal story with those who do not understand. I will not get defensive; I will tell the truth of it. Compassion and understanding are gifts.

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Traci
Traci
10 years ago

Thanks for this discussion. My son recently relapsed and is in jail again. People who previously were supportive of him, are basically fed up. While I can understand their frustration, it hurts me that they feel this way. I don’t think he is even aware of it yet. I know he has to suffer consequences, but it still hurts me when people, especially people close to him, think badly about him. I wish I had more guts to speak out. I’m ashamed of myself. When it appeared he had gotten into recovery and would do well, I was happy to share, but now that he has relapsed in such a big way, I’m ashamed and scared to speak out.

Pat Nichols
10 years ago

I respond by saying that my son is addicted to alcohol and other drugs. I tell them that addiction is a brain diseaase, a primary disease. Then I ask if they would pray for him and all the children with this disease. If they ask questions or make statements that make me feel angry, resentful etc. then I request they Google their questions or opinion and learn the facts. End of conversation.

Also, I do my best to be polite and understanding but don’t push me too far or you will hear much more than you wanted to know !!!! 🙂

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Pat, I chuckled when I read your comments. I truly understand!

It was my experience, the people whom you trusted to have compassion and understanding, were somewhat two-faced. They acted like they understood (to your face), but I found out that many were eager to blame the parents.

Dear Libby, I like and agree with what you said. “compassion and understanding are gifts.”

Dear Traci, my heart bleeds for you. I understand your hurt and pain. Hopefully, this will be the last time your son will ever see the inside of a jail cell. You and your son are in my prayers, as well as all of our children who are addicted.

With love and deep respect,
Barbara

Chrissy Huether
Chrissy Huether
10 years ago

When you work the AlAnon Program, You aquire these gifts – – before you know it,,, compassion is second nature. Understanding comes from the stories of hope that you hear from others – – – The people that I have chosen to surround myself with share my hopes, and dreams, and hug me when they are shattered. There are people that are ignorant to the disease, not by choice, but because they do not have the education or they are scared or they choose to remove themself from the situation. They think what they think. I am happier than ever – and there is someone very close to me that is not with me me in my recovery, and it makes our relationship very very difficult. I love my daughter unconditionally,,, and that is my choice.

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Chrissy, I read your words three times. I appreciate your input. I learn something about addiction (and the people who are affected by it) each and every time I log on to this forum. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I, also, loved my son unconditionally. And, he knew it.

With love and respect,
Barbara

Chrissy Huether
Chrissy Huether
10 years ago

This forum is “addicting” – – 🙂 So many people care, and are looking for words of comfort, as well as the realty of this disease – – What better place to go,,, Thank you Libby!!!!! muwahhh!!!

Jane
Jane
10 years ago

Hello all and I need your support more than ever this evening. I just learned over the last few days that my son is doctor shopping and selling his supply to make money . I am ill once again at the thought of it as I know it goes hand in hand with use. I have given him sooooo many opportunities and we have been there for him too much. I now want to take a hard stance and ask him to move out. My husband is not willing to do that yet. I feel the comfort of our home is enabling now and I am moraly against what he is doing. We have given him every opportunity over the past 8 years. I feel enough is enough. Now he is making choices.This is so hard and I am very spent but I have resolve and I want him to find other living arrangements as he is not holding up his end
Any pearls of wisdom? Thanks and I love you all
Jane

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear All,

How my heart goes out to you all. Thanks for participating, for reaching out a hand to help each other and for your love and honesty.

Dearest Jane,

I have no pearls of wisdom. I can only tell you the path I took with Jeff. The Italian recovering alcoholic told me to “stay close, but don’t give him money.” My words to Jeff were, “I love you and you need to find your strength. You need to fight. When I had breast cancer, I needed to fight my own battle or die. You have the same choice.”

Dr. MacAfee says, “Good, solid and meaningful boundaries can help best. Every parent needs to say what she means and mean what she says.”

Sometimes we can ‘love’ our children to death. Father Joe Martin has a video (short) and here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxScZcZ248M

Praying for you and your family,

L

Jane
Jane
10 years ago

Thank you Libby
Father Martin is always helpful to listen to. “Kill someone with kindness- this is what we do. Our actos of love and kindness actually make the addict worse. They do not have the normal reaction to what our intentions are meant for.
We tried to say what we meant last night and stood by our boundaries. He was denying everything, then conceeding to it, then did not understand why we were upset, turning everything around and making us the bad guy. Its always a no win situation. I don’t even know if I can stay close because I don’t even like who he is. I know it is the disease ruining and poisoning who I remember as my son. I have a hard time even remembering the good times pre- addiction.It seems like centuries ago.I don’t know what his chances will be of finding other living arrangements. We asked him to move out within the month. I will remember to take it one day at a time.
Fondly,
Jane

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear Jane,

Stay strong and know that boundaries are important for you and your son. The addict needs to know where you start and stop. Jeff once said, “In the end, my mother became suspiciously calm and I knew that her enabling stopped. She loved me, but I knew that I had to get well or die.”

My love to you,

L

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Jane, I am so sorry to hear that your son has relapsed. I understand what you’re feeling inside. It literally makes you physically ill along with all the mental anguish. When I reached my limit and washed my hands of my son, I knew I was spent. The only thing I can say is when you’ve had enough, you’ll know. I did. My son was 26 years old when that happened.

What Jeff said “she loved me, but I knew that I had to get well or die” hit home with me. I pray your son will reach this stage soon.

Stay strong and try to take good care of yourself. You’ve done all you can do. And, know that we are here for you with our arms reached out to you.

A hug for you with love,
Barbara

Jane
Jane
10 years ago

The beauty of this illness in my life is the love I have felt from virtual strangers who are bound to me by a similar life experience. Love to you Barbara and Libby and all for sharing of yourselves. I keep you all in y prayer too.
Love Jane

FLORA WEST
10 years ago

My daughter was completely miserable during all the time she was doing the drugs from what I saw, so I am trying to figure out why are they doing them if they are miserable all the time!! The high they originally got must have been a really beautiful,thrilling one to make you go through all that misery and spend all that much money steal,lie,cheat,go to jail and shoplift,breaking and entering, and some even murder for drugs, even their family members!!I can’t say it was the worst but it was no picnic living around her and she came close to killing herself.I finally learned that I was enabling her and I stopped and let her know what her bounderies were and just prayed and asked for prayers everywhere I went for her.I asked her one day what she thought was the one reason that she thought she was off of drugs, she said “Because of the prayers that were prayed for me.”GOD IS A MIRACLE WORKER!!

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear Flora,

Jeff once told me that an addict isn’t afraid to die, but is afraid to go the next day without drugs. I never understood that until the end. Prayer is powerful. Abe Lincoln once said, “”I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”

Our love to you,

L

Sarah
Sarah
10 years ago

Wow. What a thread, thank you ladies for sharing. Its one ah-ha moment after another, I am forever grateful for all that you teach me.
I saw my son yesterday, Long story short, Im praying desperately, making promises with God. Traci, I too feel shame for many things. Forgiveness toward myself has not come yet, I play the “what if’s” & “I should’ves”, but I pray that God will lift that from me one day. I feel shame for my son, he is a criminal, drug addict, lost soul, menace to my family, he is also the love of my life.
I feel like I have a split personality; class mom, working mom, church mom, the everythings all good mom… then Im the other kids mom, the addicts mom, the mom that keeps secrets….

Sarah
Sarah
10 years ago

(continued) I was at mass on a weekday during the holidays, unbeknownst to me a mother of one of my little daughters classmates had been sitting behind me a few rows back. After mass ended she popped into the pew next to me and just hugged me. It was the strangest, lovliest feeling. She is one of us too and she saw me & my pain filled aura loud and clear that morning and came to me to help me. She said to me pearls of wisdom about our children:
“God will relieve our babies of this disease, we might have to accept that it just may not be in their lifetime.” Whoa, thats a tough one. I know. But somehow, when I wrapped my head around it, it was comforting in an inexplicable way. Point is, I am always touched by the often rare reaction of compassion, empathy and love shown when I occasionally let my secret out… but would never have experienced that renewed faith in humanity if I never shared at all. Love & prayers to you all, & our babies.

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear Sarah,

Addiction suffocates life and is steeped in secrets, shame, stigma and silence. We let out our ‘secret’ every one in a while, and sometimes we are blessed with compassion.

I found compassion at my Al-Anon meetings where people reached out and held my hand without judgment. I found that I was not alone.

We are with you,

Libby