Revisiting a Blog post I wrote in August 2010… such a battle we have as parents to fully open our hands and let go. I told my son today his Journey is out of my hands, my hands are “off”… its on him.

A Mothers Heart

The roller-coaster ride of the past year has taken its toll on my heart. The havoc that my son’s addiction has wreaked on our family has hit a wall. So many times we have waved a magic wand over the pain and losses we have endured.

Poof… all gone.

Pushing aside the anger, and dusting it over with forgiveness, making every effort to live at peace, to offer another chance… and another…and another.

We verbally tell ourselves that the new items that have come up missing are just “things” we can replace things. He’s still alive, he wants to stay clean; he promises he won’t go back, he’ll get our stuff back. The stuff never comes back, it never gets replaced, and the tangled realities of staying clean and alive are constantly on the cusp of extinction.

I have wrestled for so long with this mother’s heart that just can’t…

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The Addiction Rollercoaster





I love Rollercoasters!  Get me to an amusement park and I will stand in line all day to ride them.  I remember one year I was about 14 or so and our family took their annual trip to Lincoln Park, and that year we; my dad and my two older sisters and myself road the rollercoaster 14 times.  One of my favorite amusement parks of all times is Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio, with a current count of 17 Rollercoasters.  Our family has been there twice.

But the Addiction Rollercoaster isn’t an amusement park ride…

For some; drug use may very well start out as an amusement… the thrill of partying with friends ect.  But once the snare of addiction has caught them the amusement is taken out of the ride.  The once thrill of the highs and quick rush of the downhill plunge and the whipping around fast corners turn into a hellish nightmare.  The hands in the air as you plunge down that first hill feeling freer then you have before turns into a white knuckle grip as you the addict plunges into withdrawal and the absolute need for more drugs. With that comes all the out of control behaviors of stealing, lying, manipulating as they whip around corner after corner.

We, the loved ones in the early stages of addiction stand by waiting on the ground watching as they stay on the coaster, every time the coaster comes to a near halt at the gate we wait for them to get off, and they don’t.  It takes off again slowly up that hill and our loved ones are completely out of reach.  Each time the coaster comes by the gate we see their faces, the painful gaunt look in their eyes, and the white ashen skin tone of being on the ride for too long.  Yet we stand there and wait…

We cheer when they finally get off the coaster and get relief.  They enter a Detox or Rehab and for a few weeks life seems safe for them and less weary for us.  Until we hear that they are once again standing in line to get back on the rollercoaster.  We rush to gate and try to coax them to get out of the line, they slightly turn their head in our direction and we think we have got to them; they hear us pleading and will get out of line.  But we stand there aghast that their head turns back toward the roller-coaster, we stand and watch as they climb back in feeling absolutely helpless.  We watch the coaster pull away from the gate and see our loved ones hands go up in the air as they anticipate that first free fall…

And our hearts break all over again.   Our only defense is to walk away from the gate and stop watching, and when we are ready to even leave the park.




A Measure of Grace

Tough Love and Detaching with Love have  seemingly been the only 2 tools we as parents have in this battle.  I’ve used both, I’ve taught both, I’ve walked firmly in both.  And yet there will be times when as parents or loved ones when Using a Measure of Grace is appropriate.

In my past post on Upping the Ante I stated that I would NOT help my son if he left another Program.  That was a very firm line I needed to draw.  In so doing it has brought about a seriousness in my son’s pursuit of Recovery.  Last Monday he was asked to leave the program he was in for breaking a rule.

My son is an avid rule breaker. 

I will even go so far as to say he has had a problem with authority figures for some time now.

When the call came Monday for “help”  I had to say No.  I affirmed my vow with him and told him he would have to figure this out on his own.  What followed over the next two days is what brought me to the place of using a measure of grace.

Instead of his usual landing on the couch of a friend who is using, he went instead to the door of Compass Point Ministries.  A Faith Based Recovery House he spent 3 months in last summer.  He REFUSED to use again so that he could get into a Detox and start all over again.  He stayed the course of staying clean and did what he could to get into a Program from the streets.  Not an easy feat especially here in Massachusetts. He was allowed two nights at Compass Point on the couch.  He needed one more night somewhere before the bed would be available in the Longer Term Program.

This is where using a measure of grace comes in.

The Online Dictionary describes grace as: a disposition to kindness and compassion and consideration for others.

When my son had worked as hard as he had to stay clean, stay in a clean environment and pursued long term Recovery this mothers heart knew compassion(Grace) was called for.   I was reminded of the song by Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” … you got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run”.   As loved ones of addicts we need to know the same.  We need to know when to apply tough love, when to detach and when to Use a Measure of Grace.

The Simplest of Tools

A few days ago a response I read in regards to one of my blog posts reminded me that there are many who do not understand what addiction looks like, how simple things in our homes can literally be turned into “tools of mass destruction”.   And it’s also ironic that this is this very message I bring to schools to parents who are unaware.

The response stated in part that we (parents of addicts) need to clean up our homes and make them a safe place for our addicts.  So I think it’s appropriate to give a list of some of these simple tools that are used by our addicts.  If we are unaware of what addicts who snort or shoot up use we can now understand just how difficult it is to recognize that our loved ones are using in our homes.

Some of those tools are:

Bic Pens

Coffee Stirrers


Cotton balls


Aluminum Foil


Ace bandages

Soda cans

Bottle caps

All of these items are found in EVERY HOME.  I would venture to guess that nearly every home across America can open their linen closet or kitchen cabinet or closet and find all of these items.  Removing all of these items from our homes to make them “safe” just isn’t reality.

Quite frankly I need my spoons.

Understanding addiction and what is happening in the family home is defiantly an undertaking for the outsider looking in.  We the parents and loved ones of addicts ask that before you pass judgment you take the time to understand just what we have endured, and how Blindsided we have been by our loved ones addiction.  None of us have been given an education in drug abuse, its tools or its effects on the body and mind.

It’s one of the reason I have committed to speaking at schools so parents can be aware.  To understand if their spoons start to go missing (and Johnny is no  longer of the age to be using them in the sand box) and your bag of cotton balls is depleted in record time (and Susie isn’t constantly changing her nail polish) and your finding the contents of pens all over the house, but the clear casement is no where to be found or your finding coffee stirrers in your son or daughters room and not only do you not buy them but said child hates coffee and your child is always asking for a new belt or those ace bandages you’ve kept under the sink in the bathroom are gone… when you can start adding these things together it’s time to consider you just may have an addict in the house.

Simple tools… every household has them.  Ridding our house of them isn’t the answer.

The Test

Know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when you set a new boundary the TEST will come.  And only then will you know if you have truly set the boundary.  We can say things, and even write them but they only become truth in your life when act on it. I just had that opportunity, I had my test…

On February 27th I wrote a post on Upping the Ante, I drew a very firm line and just yesterday I had to apply it.  My son was forced out of the program he was attending; nearly 3 weeks in.  Not for using, but for breaking a rule none the less, a rule that cost him his placement right along with his bad attitude about the rule.  Following the rules and submitting to authority in the program is part and parcel of Recovery.

He called me on Monday to tell me his tale, and promised me he was on his way back to the hospital to start all over again. I didn’t hear from him yesterday so I assumed (I know terrible word) that he was in the wait for a bed.


He called by late afternoon asking to come home for a “meal and a shower then a ride to the hospital”.   I asked him why he hadn’t gone to the hospital like he said.

His response; “I wasn’t ready yet I had things to take care of”.

I reminded him of my vow.  (boundary I had set)

He yelled at me “Really mom, really you’re going to let me go hungry”.

My response: “No, I’m not letting you go hungry, you chose being hungry when you broke the rules and then chose to not to go immediately for help.  I suggest you go now to the hospital, I’m sure they will feed you while you wait for a bed.”

For those of you reading this:

Always remember to pause before you answer your addicted loved one.

Think:  is this manipulation?

If you can answer yes, then be sure you hold fast to the boundaries you have set.  Be sure that each boundary that you set will be tested.  If not right away, somewhere down the road.

Will you pass the test?

If you don’t… remember there will be another not too far off and you can be wiser the next time.  Each time you pass the test, you become stronger and you force them to take responsibility for their actions.

Praying we each pass our tests.

A Heart Warming Moment

Too often as parents of an addict we hear all about the bad parts of our loved ones.  We sit in court and listen to the charges brought against them, we listen to family members lament over how our addict has hurt them, stolen from them, abused them in some way.  Most of what we hear while they are on this rollercoaster ride is far from heartwarming.  We long to hear just one good word about them.

I was blessed to get such a word.

A few days ago my son called to say he was being moved to a transitional facility and he could take a few more of his things with him.  And he asked if one of us would bring them to him.  I was more than glad to get more of his things out from under my roof, so I said yes.

My husband took the 50 minute drive and when he entered the main office he was told “No drop offs until 4:00PM”  the woman behind the desk was quite firm.  As it was only 1:00PM.  My husband told this lovely woman behind the desk that our son was being moved soon and would need these things.  The woman behind the desk said “Unless he’s leaving today we can’t take it till 4:00PM, no exceptions”.  My husband told her he was scheduled to leave tomorrow.

In the next moment an angel entered the office.  (not an angelic being, but another woman who as far as I’m concerned could have been) She asked my husband who the belongings were for; my husband stated our son’s name and what she said has warmed my heart and will stick with this mother for days to come as it completely blessed my oft times weary soul in this journey as the parent of an addict.

She said; “Oh I’ll take those for him, we love your son he is such a leader here and I see such great things happening in him”.

I will hold onto this and use it to infuse and build my HOPE.

Belts and Spoons…

I can clearly remember the day I found the syringes under my son’s mattress now some 29 months ago.  I remember falling to my knees and sobbing harder than I have sobbed in years.   The realization of his addiction to drugs and that it had manifested to the point of IV drug use seemed more then I could bare back then.  For days I walked around in a haze trying to process all that was in front of me.

For those of you new to this hellish place, hold on; the ride is ugly in the beginning, I will be the first to admit that.  It’s one of the worst rollercoasters one can take emotionally.  Eventually you find strength, you begin processing, you start researching, and looking for help to somehow end the nightmare.

I’ve grown a lot since that awful day; I’ve still cried now and again, have been angry and hurt. Yet there came a point along the way where I started to realize the best way to help my son was to work on me.  My friend over at Addiction Journal wrote an amazing post called The Mirror, I strongly suggest you take a moment and read it, there are some hard questions there that we will face in the battle our children fight when addicted.  Questions we will struggle with, yet I challenge you to settle them in your heart.  By doing so you will find that next level of strength.

This past weekend, as I cleaned out my down stairs bathroom linen closet and vanity I came across some bent spoons and belts.  Both tools in my son’s addiction.  I found three of each; all put there since that fateful day 29 months ago.  (I know that because I tore my house apart back then looking for whatever I could find and got rid of it).  Instead of falling on my knees and sobbing, I was able to work through it on a completely different level as I’m further along on my own journey.

I used it as a reminder that along the way I enabled and coddled and these belts and spoons were there because I hadn’t settled those hard questions in my mind.  It took time and it took my son overdosing in his room a year and half ago to get serious about doing all I could to end my enabling and to see it for what it was… I was enabling him to death.

Today he is clean, in a program and about to embark on the next leg of that journey.  My house is once again clean and free of drug paraphernalia and I am praying his life will follow suit.