Please, send me the roadmap

Please, send me the roadmap

A mother from Texas writes “our family is still struggling a lot.  It seems like the wall that our son is putting around him is getting taller every day.  It’s heartbreaking to watch him alienate us when he needs our help the most.”

She longs for a “roadmap” to help her family decide when to give him the ultimatum:  continue to use and leave the home, or stay  “only if he accepts treatment.”

When Jacob was actively using, I ached for someone to tell me what to do.  In my professional life I was very comfortable scripting others. Where was my own script?  Someone tell me what to say to Jacob, I silently begged.  Then, everything would be all right, again.

But of course, addiction doesn’t follow a script.  We don’t know what the next day will bring, let alone the next hour.

That’s why programs like Al Anon help.  Huddling with others who are suffering, sharing stories of strength and hope, we find some relief from the throbbing worry over our loved ones and the fears about their future.

Professional advice can help, too, but it’s not easy to find.  A psychologist early in my son’s addiction, when the dominant drug was marijuana, advised my then 18-year-old son to “smoke less” and he would be fine.  Today, Jacob chuckles over how easy it was to fool him.

When to give that ultimatum – to tell that beloved son or daughter to leave the family home or accept treatment – is impossible to plot.  It’s different for every family.  Professional advice, and friends who have lived it, are the best support.

And yet, we still yearn for that roadmap.

Al Anon teaches that – as much as we try –  we can’t find one to fix our kids.

Instead, we need to focus on finding one for ourselves.


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