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When a friend is hurting

When a friend is hurting

Often I am asked this question: “My friend has a son who is using. What should she do?” The question comes from a place of love. We want to help our friends when they hurt. When Jacob was using, and his world was so dark, I went dark, too. Sullen, silent, like a winged bat …

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Celebrating an anniversary

Celebrating an anniversary

At a recent Al-Anon meeting a mother shared how she’d attended her son’s one-year sobriety celebration. This mother was no stranger to addiction. Her son, now in his 30s, had been drinking and using drugs since college. Listening intently to every word, I found myself reliving my own son’s one-year anniversary. What I listened for …

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Recovery – what’s next?

Recovery – what’s next?

So much is written about how to survive when someone you love is in active addiction. But what happens when recovery begins? When Jacob was using, I lost him.  The son I’d raised, the son I wanted, was gone.  But once he stopped abusing alcohol and other drugs, the son I loved began to re-emerge. …

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No one gets through it alone

No one gets through it alone

It haunts me every time. Recently, it was a close friend, a father who is living the nightmare of his son’s active addiction.  Complicated by the young man’s mental illness, this father’s not sure which came first – the drugs or the mental sickness – but the heavy marijuana use thwarts any effort to find …

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Why I still attend Al-Anon meetings

Why I still attend Al-Anon meetings

Recently a mother suffering the effects of her son’s substance abuse asked me why I still attend Al-Anon meetings. That evening she was celebrating her loved one’s newfound sobriety.  He was six months clean and she was overjoyed to have him “back.” While I celebrated with her, my instinct was to caution her.  There is …

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What’s in a word?

What’s in a word?

How often do we hear addiction referred to as a “disease?”  And we are told that those who suffer from the effects of the “disease”  – directly or indirectly –  are ill? For years, professionals who treat people with substance abuse, and many in recovery themselves, have fought to decriminalize addiction.  Calling it a “disease” …

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A Safe Distance

A Safe Distance

It’s often the very first question asked.  After I share my story with an audience, with or without Jacob at my side, a hand goes up from the back of the room. “My sister has a son who’s been in and out of treatment.  He’s 34 and he’s still using.  He lives with her and …

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I apologize

I apologize

Among the many life lessons learned through my son’s recovery from addiction, and thereby from my own, is to make amends promptly.  I’ve also learned that it doesn’t matter if you did or didn’t do the wrong.  What matters is,  does the other person perceive you did? A recent incident reminded me.  A local charity …

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To Stay or Go

To Stay or Go

The woman seemed haunted.  When she talked about her son, a shadow fell across her eyes. I met Carol (not her real name) recently.  She fell in step with me as we walked with a group of Americans on the tiled streets of Granada, part of a six-city tour of Spain.   Her adult son had …

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Chasing treatment

Chasing treatment

At a recent book talk a mother asked me, “How involved did you get in researching places for your son?” Her anxious face catapulted me back into the crazed, frenetic days of Jacob’s disease, when he was at his worst, and so was I.   The memory brought back all the feelings of feeling out of …

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