A letter to Allies in Recovery from Annie Highwater, author and speaker on substance use disorder:
Wow am I excited to tell you this!! I get messages every day from someone with a son or daughter who is struggling with addiction, and whose child could be at any point along this journey
Earlier this week, a mom emailed me asking for suggestions for a therapist and updating me that her son, an IV Heroin user, had relapsed.
From Recovery to Relapse
In short, she had started a support group after her son had been in treatment for 30 days. She thought everything would be fine but I could tell they were deeply enmeshed and sick with the situation. I had stopped in a couple times and became friendly with her. But I was concerned because the family was convinced they had done all the right things and that he was most likely clean for good, just like we all hope. Weeks after my last visit there, I got an email from her.
She said she had dropped her son off that morning at a gas station. He had already slept outside at this same station for months before he entered treatment the first time. She said she left him there and felt like she would die, but believed she had to this time.
My response to her was to express how painful I know that to be. I gave her examples of going through relapses with my own son as well as a recent story I had heard about a mother, (mentioned on our holiday podcast), who had dropped her son off at a homeless shelter between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I also told her my favorite phrase going through the hardest of times, “it ain’t over yet”, which should be engraved on a plaque!
What I’ve learned from Allies in Recovery
I mentioned a few things I learned from Allies in Recovery, and asked her to write on an index card the name and number of treatment centers and other resources that he could call in a moment of clarity or desperation. Then I suggested she give him this card anytime she sees him or is able to. That would be a soft intervention and would give her something productive to do in the midst of the situation. I take these emails on with my heart!
She emailed me back yesterday saying that her son had called the night she left him there asking if he could come home. She told him no. He then asked if she would bring him his phone charger. He was going to sit inside the gas station and charge his phone. She sent her husband with the charger because she did not trust herself to see him in that condition and not cave. Or she would have gone home even more of a mess. She also sent an index card with the names and numbers she had researched.
The next morning he called one of the numbers on the card and checked himself into treatment. My heart EXPLODED when I read that! She said she never would’ve thought to do that. She knew that if she had not sent that index card, she probably would have spent the night in mourning or driving past the gas station. It would have led into another night, and more nights to follow that he would have been out there. I’m not saying that this is it for him—we know it’s a journey—but no treatment is wasted. And this is one family with hope reignited—during the holidays!
This is why I love this work. And this is why I love CRAFT, and Allies in Recovery. I will never stop being available, pouring out, and giving my heart to each and every person, one at a time.
Thank you for everything you have taught, for the heart you have for this, and for all you are doing. It matters! It mattered to this family!!!
HAD to share ❤️