The Allies in Recovery Blog
She knows her son needs help, but he often disappears for long stretches of time right after he starts opening up to her. Read on for Dominique Simon-Levine’s insights as she lays out some important considerations for this situation.
A member wonders if her son will ever come to terms with what he’s put the family through. Read Annie Highwater’s inspiring response which offers strength and grounding we can all use during difficult times.
When all but one member of a family is in recovery and living a sober lifestyle, how do they approach their loved one’s use without being too overbearing? How can they use CRAFT to help prevent him from going down the wrong path?
This family member had given up on ever getting her daugher back again. Her powerful tale of hope credits CRAFT with helping turn things around. We are so grateful for her sharing this story with the Allies community.
She’s worried her daughter may be heading towards relapse, having just returned home from rehab. It’s a real strain to have things start off this way. See how Dominique Simon-Levine uses the CRAFT method to frame an approach.
Wins can come when you’re least expecting them. Read an inspiring report of a member’s recent success using CRAFT. Positive steps like these don’t mean the problems are all gone, but they are hard-won and worth celebrating!
Her son is struggling with withdrawals from a recent relapse. As the family anticipates another job loss, and possibly more, this mom wonders how to proceed. CRAFT examines key considerations for this sensitive time.
We often find ourselves wondering how to repair the bonds that are broken when trust has been violated. In this thoughtful exploration of the topic of trust, Annie Highwater shares her insights about the repair process. You won’t want to miss the gems of wisdom shares in this post!
She has struggled through 12 years of her husband’s addiction, having single-handedly provided for their family for all of these years, and is now at a loss. All of the patience, love and compassion she used to have seem long gone, and resentment keeps mounting. CRAFT looks at where to best focus our energies when these feelings weigh us down.
She’s fed up with her son’s patterns of non-communication. Whenever his use is addressed, he withdraws and shuts off communication. When he does reach out, it always seems to be on his terms. How do you take the wheel when it feels like your loved one is used to calling all the shots?
How does she confront her husband’s use? With work schedules to navigate and kids at home, it seems there’s never a time she can find to connect when he isn’t drinking.
Between overdoses and relapses, she and her daughter are in constant crisis mode. Annie Highwater responds with some thoughts about the emotional storms that accompany crisis, addiction, relapse.
After rehab, many parents find themselves in that gray area of whether or not to allow their recovering loved one to stay at home. Follow these guidelines to create the ideal home environment for your adult child. Setting up a Daybed & Footlocker can bring peace and clarity.
They began to implement CRAFT guidelines when he comes home high, trying new gestures and rewards to connect with him when he’s sober. Their son however, is defiant and angry with his parents, rejecting any kind gestures. He uses pot daily, misses school, and doesn’t see his use as a problem.
She is discouraged, even ashamed, by her son’s choices, especially the drug dealing. How can she set firm boundaries to protect her home and family, while maintaining the bridge of trust with her son?
This mom received a harsh note about her work performance on the eve of her holiday break. Her loved one’s addiction has consumed so much of her energy and time that she hasn’t been able to devote as much attention to her work as she’s used to. Unable to share any of this with her boss, she feels anxiety and shame about his poorly timed message.
If, as family members, we wait around for a 100% commitment from our loved one, we will almost certainly be waiting a long time. Family members must make decisions and take actions in an environment of probabilities.
Five weeks after changing the lock and having her son leave the house, she received a text from him. He expresses discontent with where his life is and feelings hopelessness. This is the equivalent of what CRAFT calls a “dip”. Here’s what to do when you’re lucky enough to be present for a “dip”.
Mom spent years helping her daughter and son-in-law as they sank deeper and deeper into trouble with the drugs and probably also alcohol. She now realizes that her helping them was probably enabling. Now her daughter has essentially cut her off and Mom needs to detach.
Acceptance of a painful reality is a process and takes time. If it’s happening to you, be open to the truth and gentle with yourself. If it’s happening to someone you know, tread lightly and with compassion.
She has successfully used CRAFT taught on our member site to help her son into treatment for heroin addiction. He is now 9 months out and has not relapsed…but he is at home, and mom worries about his pot use and fleeting motivation, despite his continued visits to a therapist.
With her daughter now on the street, this mother wonders what she can do to reach her. To further complicate things, she has a manipulative boyfriend.
Relationships can be gradually worn down and eventually ruined with such fundamental and ongoing disagreements. Addiction is a lifelong affliction. As a family you will fare better if you can find agreement on how to move forward.
There is a difference between someone who is not aware of the effects and dangers of what they are doing, and someone who is. This high-functioning daughter secretly struggles with bulimia and alcohol, refusing all treatment. Mom wonders about striking a deal: treatment in exchange for co-signing on a house.
What’s the antidote to worry and where does it show up in your body? How is it connected to love? Can worry ever be helpful? When does worrying cross the line and become destructive, or self-destructive? What does Allies in Recovery have to offer when worrying about your loved one is taking over your thoughts?
Her 21-year-old son has several mental health issues and has decided that smoking pot helps. She sees that his motivation has evaporated and blames the pot. He has already failed out of college twice.
This mom is determined to help her son, in recovery from opioid addiction since last December. But he continues to struggle, from symptoms related to Lyme’s disease, misuse of benzodiazepines, chronic fatigue, and perhaps depression. He recently told her “I have lost the tenacity to live.”
This dad is beyond frustrated and fed up. His 38 year-old son is married with a child but is living with his parents. After three months sober he’s relapsed but won’t consider treatment. Dad no longer wants to support his son.
Is CRAFT always the right approach? Even when your loved one has been so deceptive and unwilling to listen?
Tough love, I was told, was the only hope I had left. So I tried it and things got worse. I hated it and it didn’t even work. Then I developed a personal strategy that I called Smart Love.
Her daughter sleeps all day and uses at night. Is home becoming a place which enables her daughter’s use? Should she kick her out? What does CRAFT say about home as a reward?
Stigma is a very powerful deterrent to treatment, recovery and hope. Yet how do we move beyond this when even those in the medical profession continue to stigmatize the disease of addiction?
She agreed to treatment for alcohol and is heading home soon. But she’ll need transportation when she starts working again. Where does CRAFT stand on letting a loved one borrow the car to get to work? What about installing a breathalyzer?
An aunt has been instrumental in helping her two nephews engage into treatment. Their recovery remains strong yet she worries that their mother’s recent overdoses may destabilize them.
They discharged him from detox precisely when withdrawal was at its worst. He will need the full support of his family to get through this difficult time.
For some individuals, medication can be an important complementary aid in recovery. At Allies in Recovery, we have no wish to stigmatize a treatment plan that includes medication. But here’s what we believe is of equal importance for helping a Loved One who struggles with addiction…
Fentanyl hijacks our ability to find pleasure elsewhere in life, and the withdrawals are so agonizing that we’ll do absolutely anything to avoid them. How do you win the battle?
The period of early recovery is fragile, even dangerous. As important as it is to remove the drugs, it is even more important to add things in that take the place of the drugs, providing meaning, guidance, and supporting recovery and health…
They’ve always opened their home to him when he’s trying to get clean but he has now started taking advantage of his parents. He is getting high in their house, stealing from them, enjoying a warm bed and food while using. He’s not really interested in going into treatment. He knows what he needs to say to get through the door.
This worried mother doesn’t know how she can help her daughter anymore. She herself is tired and not in good health and struggles to come up with any real solutions.
Allies’ founder and director, Dominique Simon-Levine, responds to questions from our Content Editor about the Key Observation exercises in our eLearning Center. This Q & A provides a clear explanation about how important these exercises are and how they help families understand their loved one’s addiction in order to successfully guide them to treatment.
A son in early recovery would like his car back but his mother worries that this may trigger a relapse. She wants to help him but is worn out and worried. She has seen his early sobriety before and feels he is less motivated this time.
What if, in a moment of conflict, you were able to pause and recall some positive trait you appreciate about your loved one? How well are you able to separate the illness of addiction from the person you love?
Our members-only, eLearning site teaching the CRAFT method is accessible to everyone and is designed so that you, the family member supporting your loved one, can learn the essential tools of CRAFT on your own.
He’s just out of treatment for heroin addiction and now at home smoking pot. His mother is very worried and unsure how to react. Should she let it slide and just focus on his recovery from heroin addiction? Or are there small steps she can take to try to reduce the pot smoking?
For some addicted individuals, medication can be an important complementary aid in recovery. At Allies in Recovery, we have no wish to stigmatize a treatment plan that includes medication.
This mother feels desperate—her daughter is struggling with addiction and now pregnant. After a seizure related to substance use, the hospital released her daughter without discussing the danger addiction poses to her unborn baby.
A boyfriend is discharged from detox at precisely the moment when withdrawal is at its most painful. He will need the full support of his family to get through this difficult time of withdrawing.
When someone has broken your trust, it will take time to build back up to complete trust again, perhaps years. So take it slowly, give it time.
A mother called the police when her addicted daughter stole her car. Now the daughter is in jail and furious, blaming her parents. What next?
When an addicted loved one alludes to or even threatens suicide, the family can feel paralyzed. Is the risk real or are they being manipulative? How do you respond?
Controlling an addicted loved one’s access to money is a constant concern for the family. Some options exist to help ‘control’ their spending and these serve as a helpful roadblock. Ultimately, the best option is the CRAFT approach.
Recovery is a bumpy process and relapse is very often part of it. Sticking with the CRAFT approach will help your loved one reach their goal of continuous sobriety.
When setting firm boundaries and maintaining them, so often it feels like ‘Tough Love’ that may backfire and lead to a worse situation. Using the CRAFT approach, one’s influence is more ‘Smart Love’ with real results.
Unity in a family is hard to orchestrate, especially where addiction is present. Sometimes this is because parents are elderly or a family member is too angry, or too overwhelmed to take in new information. But this shouldn’t stop a family member from taking steps to guide their loved one toward treatment.
The family drug court is granting this mother in recovery more access to her child. But the grandparents, who are raising their granddaughter, are concerned that their daughter is not ready. How can they support their daughter when they themselves are unsure of her ability to return to parenting?
Can gaming truly be considered an addiction? What’s actually happening during an ‘Addictive Event’? How should this father deal with his son’s multiple addictions and where does gaming stand as an addictive behavior?
David Sheff’s story about his son’s addiction and recovery has led him to several realizations about himself as a parent his own need to recover from the experience. He found that his constant suffering and struggle through near crises with his son was easier to deal with than focusing on himself. Today, their relationship has evolved into one of independence, acceptance, compassion and always love.
A mother is trying her best to maintain communication with her addicted son, but he is being verbally abusive. He is bullying to extract money from her. This has created a situation that is escalating beyond what she can handle.
A multipronged approach is essential to pull a loved one away from addiction. Yet too often, families are having to take responsibility for advocating for any comprehensive type of care. Furthermore, there is no ‘one size fits all’ formula for addiction treatment.
When drugs and alcohol take over, the family is drawn into the needs of the addiction, blamed when resources come up short, attacked when they refuse to provide the “help” requested. It is so hard to know what to do or what “helping” looks like. Come out of the gray area and learn how to respond to your Loved One’s addiction.
Setting healthy boundaries and confidently following through with them is not easy and requires reflection, work and practice. But it is a strategy that provides support during the difficult times, especially when addiction is present.
A mother doesn’t know what she should do when one of her sons asks for money and cigarettes while in treatment. He claims he can only get through this with smokes. Is this a reasonable request after all that has happened?
How do you walk the line between protecting your addicted loved one from potential danger while allowing the natural consequences that can lead them to want to make a change? While there are definite limits to what a family can do, there are actions that can be taken.
Old boyfriends, street corners, and bar stools are everywhere in sobriety. As long as your loved one continues to prioritize their recovery, trust that they will walk on by.
Why is it that setting and maintaining boundaries is so difficult to do? Nowhere does this breakdown become more apparent than when we are confronted with life’s difficulties, feeling lost in chaos and despair. This is a time when we are most in need of these self-preserving strategies and yet, our limit-setting abilities are likely at their weakest.
Annie Highwater offers a mother the tools she learned at Allies in Recovery: CRAFT, and watches in real-time the positive results. The son has checked into treatment. A family’s hope is reignited — during the holidays!
Holidays tend to bring on some of the most emotionally charged situations. Here is a list of 5 suggestions offered by therapists and expert family advocates to help you get through the holiday season while taking care of yourself.
When your loved one is high all day long, without ever seeming to sober up, it might seem impossible to reach them and have any influence on their behavior. The CRAFT method lays out three steps to take.
Using positive communication while disengaging with a loved one is a softer, more neutral way of letting them know that things aren’t okay. It’s not going to turn things around right away, but it will keep things calmer.
When a child goes off to college while in recovery, a parent is justifiably worried. Suddenly their child is far from home, where there was a strong support system that guided them into recovery. Colleges today however, are much more aware of substance use disorders and many have adapted accordingly. With some planning ahead, students can maintain their sobriety in college.
Special guest Rob Koebel, actor, writer and award-winning journalist joins Annie and Laurie to talk about about his descent into alcoholism starting at an early age, and the decades that went by without anyone noticing there was a serious problem. His journey to recovery has been a long struggle but one which he is putting to good use by helping others understand the reality behind the “Good-time Charlie” drinker.
In our next podcast, Annie and Laurie welcome special guest Alicia Cook, an established writer and award-winning activist on addiction issues. Their discussion covers a range of topics from the very personal, Alicia Cook’s own experience with her cousin’s death from overdose 10 years ago, to her work today as an activist helping families affected by addiction. This very open discussion about the opioid epidemic reveals some harsh truths but also shows a way forward.
Annie and Laurie open up about where the focus was when they first became aware of their sons’ addiction, all the way through to where their goals and focuses are now. How did their goals evolve over time and how they depend on who your loved one is: a child, a spouse, a parent. They also conduct a short quiz to determine where one might be in the stressful process.
In today’s podcast, Laurie’s son Tommy opens up about his experience with SUD with a very moving account of surviving a terrifying overdose. This strong, raw, and honest conversation gives much insight into the mind of an addict, where they are and where they need to go in order to get better.
Annie and Laurie open up about the parallel issues that can arise during the worst of times. With their sons’ addiction raging, they also had to deal with what was going on on other fronts: chaos, crises, judgement, family discord. They learned how to respond to other’s remarks, and not react to them, how to stay united and not sink.
On this week’s Coming Up for Air podcast, Annie and Laurie talk with Annie’s son Elliot, whose opiate dependency and recovery is detailed in Annie’s book “Unhooked.” Elliot opens up with an honest, raw perspective of where a son or daughter’s mind might be while in active addiction, what would have helped from his point of view, what to not take personally as the parent of someone struggling deep in substance use disorder. He also tells us what life looks like for someone in their 20’s pursuing sobriety yet wanting a fun, active lifestyle.
In this week’s podcast, Laurie and Annie compare support group experiences. They discuss what is helpful and what works, the importance of being among others who experience the same struggles. They also learned to be careful in some of these tricky group settings where giving support was sometimes equated with giving advice.
When an addicted loved one is exhibiting increasingly alarming behavior, first of all, don’t take it personally. Remember, it is not directed at you. This, unfortunately, the face of addiction.
This week Annie and Laurie invite Laurie’s husband Trevor and Annie’s ex-husband Elliot Sr. to discuss what it means to “be on the same page” during a crisis and when making decisions. The conversation touches on blended families, exposing siblings to potentially dangerous behaviors, intrusions from others, being in agreement even though divorced.
Manipulation is used as a strong arm tactic when there is no healthy communication: “Healthy families communicate, unhealthy families manipulate”. In this podcast, Laurie and Annie discuss their own experiences with manipulation. How do we recognize manipulation when it’s present? How do we as affected family actually manipulate as well?
Laurie and Annie dive deep into the role forgiveness plays when struggling with an addicted loved one. Why is it so much easier to forgive some and not others? And how do we go about forgiving? They also touch on issues of blame, shaming and resentment.
When a loved one enters treatment, there is often a feeling of emptiness which comes suddenly after a prolonged period of anxiety and stress. The source of constant focus and worry has gone off into treatment but the strong emotions associated with their presence may linger. Laurie MacDougall shares how she coped in this situation, learning how to let go and take care of herself.
It takes a lot of mental work to get and remain sober and so a recovering loved one may be unintentionally careless with those who support them. If we recognize that people do the best they can with the tools they have in the moment, then we can accept this carelessness more easily. In the meantime, take care of your own well-being.
Laurie and Annie tell their own stories as mothers facing an addicted loved one. They discuss their backgrounds and family dynamics, speak about their lives leading up to and through their personal experiences with the national opiate crisis. Their compelling stories confirm that addiction is a disease and it’s a family disease that can happen to any family in any community.
In today’s podcast, Annie and Laurie welcome Allies in Recovery founder, Dominique Simon-Levine, to explain the CRAFT method for helping families support an addicted loved one into treatment and through recovery. They share their personal experiences in implementing the CRAFT methodology and why it became their ‘strategy of choice’ not only in helping their addicted loved one, but also in looking after their own well-being.
In this next podcast, Annie and Laurie analyze the meaning of drama using examples drawn from an entertaining public poll. They also discuss drama within the family and friendships and how they learned not to get sucked in.
If you are the bystander watching this brutal disease from the front row, what do you do? Detach from someone you love as they are spiraling? What does it look like to detach? How do you abruptly cut them off? We hear “you have to detach” a lot, but what does it actually mean?
Join Allies in Recovery moms Annie Highwater and Laurie MacDougall as they share their personal experiences with their loved ones’ recovery and how applying the language of recovery gave them strength and encouragement during the difficult times.
The long-term stress I experienced caused me to become very forgetful, hasty in my decisions, confused and socially awkward. I also noticed that during that time of my life I became very clumsy. It became obvious to me that I was heading for a crash if I didn’t get ahead of my stress. I knew I had to develop different responses. I knew that I didn’t want addiction, terror and chaos calling the shots anymore.
Through recovery work, I have learned to stop expecting people to be different and to reduce the frustration that comes from trying to cause a person to get better, or trying to mold them into how I think they should be (even if it’s reasonable). When I put these demands and expectations down, I can love people for who they actually are.
Positive reinforcement, as basic and childlike as that sounds, is a motivating force for progress. Speaking to someone’s goodness despite their wrong choices unlocks their worth. “You’re not a bad person, you’re just headed in a bad direction.” Or maybe “You shouldn’t be ashamed of yourself, maybe just aware of faulty patterns so you can choose different ones.” That’s a great way to start motivating someone. Versus, “I told you so, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
My healing did not come easily and did not come overnight. It has been an extremely difficult journey and I am still not great at it. It took really small baby steps and there are still many times when I just lose it and cry. What is different now is I have a bunch of tools in my toolbox to utilize. I have strategies and a plan in place.
You might be grumbling. You might be accusing, guilting or complaining. Or trying desperately to prevent them from going out. You might be brooding in a cold silence. This might be hard to believe, but your presence and your conversation, however negative, are something your loved one counts on, and expects from you.
“Enmeshed” is a good word to describe the situation between your sister and her son. Enmeshed describes a pattern, years in the making, when a family member fixes and protects and tries to control the actions of a loved one who’s abusing substances….
If I’m out at a party at a friend’s house, staying present in the party, in the moment, and enjoying every single moment with them, because that’s where I’m at right now … [this] helped me to have some joy and love right then, in that moment …
If I had to characterize pot users in one sentence I would describe them as observers of their own life. This passivity cripples ambition and motivation. However, a strong relationship keeps the bridge open between you and your loved one, and this will be vital when they signal a desire to change.
Vitriol can be described as a solution-less rant of hate-filled criticism. A brand of sulfuric acid was named Vitriol, reason being that the acid was strong enough to burn through anything, including steel and rock. Another permanent boundary I now have: I will not remain in the presence of vitriol.
How do you keep from encouraging further drug use by raising the bottom and protecting your loved one from overdose? How as a family member do you live with the dangers your loved one is facing, day in and day out? How do you avoid depleting your energy and becoming obsessed with the circumstances of your loved one’s life?
It’s been said that for every one person struggling with addiction, there are at least 15 people affected. The effects are painful and relentless for those of us left in the wake.