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Desperate Aunt Is Not Desperate Anymore

Journey Mountain Road


Allies in Recovery member Desperate Aunt wrote in to share some encouraging news of her nephew:

Dear All,

It has been a learning experience, to say the least. I am so happy to share that one of my nephews is coming up on his 1 year anniversary of sobriety and I am so proud and happy for him. I cannot express how grateful for all the support, kindness and education you all gave me. Especially, Dominique Simon-Levine, PhD Founder & CEO. I am in awe of you and your dedication and support. I was at my wits end and you were amazing to me. He successfully, networked and started meetings the day after we landed in LA. Completed his IOP. Found a Sponsor who is amazing. Got a job that he has held for 6 months and is now living with a few other friends who are also sober. Continues to network and is thriving. I am so grateful and he is very proud of himself, which is huge! I continue to educate myself and one of the most important lessons was and still is. It's not about me, it's his journey, I only provided an opportunity and could not have done it without you Dominique and AIR. It's so hard to watch someone you love struggle and if you need to take a step back. Do it, because if you don't you will suffer just as much watching.

Light and love to all. Desperate aunt is not desperate anymore 🙂

Thank you for sharing your experience!  This program works. What we describe is the stance a family member can take to facilitate change in your Loved One. It is relatively simple but can be hard to do and to do consistently. I’m sure there were times you stumbled. Overall, though, it sounds like you provided your nephew with opportunities for getting help and understood the limits of what you could do for him. We are grateful for your success!



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. My biggest fear has come true and I cannot figure out how to live with the fact that one of my nephews didn’t make it. The oldest (41yo), lost his battle on April 16 2019 and I am heartbroken. I’ll never hear his voice or see him again. How does one accept this? I’m seeing how life surely does goes on, but I’m stuck in not knowing how to accept this. His brother is still here in California and still sober, Thank God, but his Mom is not. She is still in denial and now dealing with the loss of her oldest son. His Dad (my brother) is still feeling stuck at home (trying to understand and deal with the loss of his son), and now having to watch his wife, continue too slowly die and we are feeling that she will be next. What happened isn’t 100% clear, but the day my nephew lost his battle, I think he was on his way to meet up with his Mom to use, but because his father was home, he went to a public place and used on his own. It’s still all unclear. They could have died together. My brother won’t go to Al Anon, Learn to Cope or anywhere and get help. He feels that no one in the world understands what he going through, and I feel helpless again. I’m trying to practice, Acceptance, letting go and staying calm, but it isn’t easy.

    Heartbroken Aunt.

    1. Dear Desperate Aunt,

      First I would like to say that I am so sorry to read of your family’s loss. I hope there are kind hearts and strong arms around each one of you through this time. There are no words that can touch a loss so engulfing. May comfort and peace make their way to you daily.

      I don’t know that there is one answer to your question for how one accepts it. I think it’s different for every person and according to each relationship. I have found that the deeper the love, the stronger the grief can be. I also believe acceptance comes in increments and over time, with the understanding that things will never be the same.

      Some of the details and questions will probably always be something your minds return to and wonder about. It’s human nature that though no one is at fault, we tend to find a way to blame ourselves. That is where healing work and things like grief therapy, support groups etc. are helpful because we can get stuck there for a long time.

      I am so sorry your brother feels alone in what he has been going through and is now facing. Again, that is where grief groups are helpful, healing and also quite powerful for creating strong bonds that prop us up and lead us forward.

      It will take time and he will most likely experience many peaks and valleys. There are great online groups (TAP Survivors of Loss, the Ugly Shoes Club, and Someone’s Child are a few very comforting Facebook groups for parents who have lost a son or daughter as it relates to overdose or substance related issues). Maybe mention one of those to him that he can look through in privacy and see that there are people who know exactly what he is going through.

      Many are brand new to their loss, many are a few years down the road and are piecing life back together – differently – but with peace, hope and even joy.

      Be encouraged that you don’t have to go through it alone. You have support here at Allies in Recovery and there are many who are available to lend an ear, and a shoulder along with comfort and support if you reach out.

      You and your family are in our thoughts.



        1. Our thoughts are with you and your family, Heartbroken Aunt. I don’t know if it can be of help but I thought I’d share a few lines from a book I’m reading right now, by the inspiring Stephen Cope:

          “Grief is the outward and visible sign of true attachment. In fact, you’ll never really know—fully, viscerally—how attached you are to someone until you have to negotiate the grief process for them.”

          Time will heal some of these wounds, but in the meantime, please be gentle with yourself. All of us who have followed your story over the years know what an incredibly loving, supportive, and amazing aunt you are. Your nephew knew it too.

          With heartfelt condolences,

  2. Here I am almost 2 years later and both my nephews are in recovery and I am grateful beyond belief. They are successful in their own ways and I continue to utilize your site for guidance and encourage everyone to keep trying. Thank you! Now, the success is all theirs and I feel that I was fortunate that love, compassion and determination for my loved ones played a major part, it’s still their journey. Unfortunately, their Mom is still in denial and her husband (who is not a user) won’t seek help himself to help her, because he is trying to control the situation. It’s a vicious circle. I still don’t understand the process of going into detox. “they have to be actively using to go into detox” Am I dense or is that insane to anyone else? She’s in a wheelchair as a result of her use for 2 years and is not getting the care she needs and it’s even more of a challenge to find a facility with handicap access. I’m trying to have these tools ready in the event she says yes to getting sober. But again, without shelling out tons of money, that I don’t have, I’m afraid this will go on and on. Something has to change. How do we change the process?

    1. So good to hear your nephews are well. Their mom still needs help and you are trying to find resources in her area. A detoxification unit is a medical unit designed to physically detoxify a person from alcohol and/or drugs. It is a short term place with a narrow goal. So, yes, you have to be physically dependent on a drug or alcohol to qualify for a detox.

      The public treatment system in Massachusetts is good. If I remember correctly, one of your nephews was inpatient in one of the state’s funded treatment centers. Look at our supplement for a description of clinical stabilization units…this could be the place your sister-in-law goes in to.

      Your brother, her husband, refuses to address the situation with his wife in a manner that could promote change. Like with a Loved One, you can use the strategies outlined in module 8 on influencing him to get help. Like with a Loved One, there are moments when he has had enough, when he is more motivated to do something about his situation.

      We can become able to hear those wishes and dips in the other person, and to be ready with a resource, like Allies in Recovery.

      Your agency and desire to help your family is heartwarming. They are examples of the power family members have to influence change. Thank you for writing in.

      1. Thank you Dominque, Yes, one of my nephews went to inpatient, but they don’t offer a full comprehensive care program with her circumstances. The only one I have found is Adcare, but availability is low. My brother has come farther and acknowledging somewhat that he has no control but regretfully won’t attend a meeting for himself. Last week his wife OD twice withing 24 hours and the first time, they sent her home in a cab, alone, without his knowledge. The second time, he and his wife’s sister convinced the hospital she is currently in, to keep her and she is now in the psych ward, where she is scared, angry and still in denial that she needs in patient care. Just this morning, cried to me on the phone that “she would never do this to her husband if the roles were reversed”. I am not a professional and logically understand I can’t control this, and am doing my best to keep it together for myself. My brother (her husband) can’t bring himself to section her and won’t throw her out on the street, as some have suggested. I don’t have all the answers and am trying to stay positive and focus on the fact that her two sons are still sober and we as a family are supportive to them to continue their road in sobriety. I can only imagine how hard it is for 2 sons to deal with this and stay sober. I am grateful that they are still sober. I pray every minute of everyday that, yup, back to feeling fearful of her dying. From what I’ve learned I need to leave it up to the professionals, but how can professionals send her home in a cab, alone and in a wheelchair?

  3. It is so wonderful to hear about successes! This is great. I would love to hear more of this from other families on this website. I know that Allies In Recovery has impacted me and my family in such a positive way. I am much stronger and better able to take care of myself because if it. I also have a special place in my heart for Dominique, she has no idea what a difference she has made.
    I also know of others that have used this website and it changed their situation in a big way.
    Desperate aunt, thank you for sharing your positive story and we’ll be sending good thoughts to you and your family for continued progress.

    1. Dear On-a-mission, I pray for you and your family and thank you for the well wishes. I should post more, but I sometimes become overwhelmed and need to take a step back. One of the most important lessons I learned during this process is that I have no control and let go. Just love, determination and a I’m a bit stubborn, to say the least 🙂 XXX