What to say when recovery begins

What to say when recovery begins

Recently a mother posed a question.  Her son in his 30s is just beginning recovery, or so she believes.  She asked me, “What do I say to my child who is now in recovery?”

My first reaction was, How do you know he is in recovery?  And if he is, you probably would not worry over what to say.  You’re his mom.  You know him best.  You will know what to say if he is willing to hear it.

I am very glad I did not say that.  Instead, I paused.  After all, I am just one mom with one experience.  I am not a therapist.  Any answer – reactive or reflective – could cause harm, and there was harm enough in her life.

Here is what I did.

I listened.  This mom needed to talk, and not just to anyone.  She needed to talk to someone who had lived what she was living.

It was clear that nothing the mother could “say” would ensure her son’s sobriety.  That was up to him, not her.

It also was clear her son knew his parents loved him.  Love – and communicating it – was never the issue.

So I asked questions to help the mom, not her son.

What was she doing for her recovery?  What kind of support did she have around her?  How was she keeping the focus on herself?  Had she tried a support group, like Al-Anon, and if not, why not?

It’s a familiar phrase in recovery:  if just one person in the family gets well, it can help the entire family get well – even the one with addiction.

Focusing on herself will give this mom less time to worry over anyone else, and foster her recovery.

And maybe, just maybe, her son will do the same.

Note: Helpful resource  –, published by a mom who knows



11 Replies to “What to say when recovery begins”

  1. My experience has been that no ever really got any sicker as a result of me getting well. Getting well changed my optics.

    1. Yes, but you are a wise woman, my friend. Sometimes this comes harder to others.

  2. So good, Lisa. I commend you for this important work you are doing. I’m sure you have already touched many lives with your candor and openness .

    1. Janet, I am always so grateful for your comments – and grateful that you share my FB posts.
      If my messages can help anyone, I hope to reach them1
      Thanks Janet

  3. Thank you Lisa for this valuable information. I am so grateful for you. Becoming my best self…takes work. ❤️

    1. Carol, I don’t think you are as far away from that goal as you think.

  4. Dear Lisa: You always know what to say…and what not to say…one of your many special gifts Thank you for making yourself vulnerable in order to help others heal….love, ML

    1. Speaking of knowing what to say…
      Thank you Mary Lou. You know I love hearing from you.

  5. Hi Lisa, I have a nephew who has suffers with addiction. I read your book, and then I gave it to my sister-in-law, his mother, and she was so grateful to receive it. She was inspired by your book, she said it gave her a better understanding of her son and how to help him and feels more hopeful. Thank you.

    1. Louise, I am glad it helped your family.
      If I can be of any more help to any of them, please let them know I am available to talk – and to listen.