Become a member of Allies in Recovery and we’ll teach you how to intervene, communicate and guide your loved one toward treatment.Become a member of Allies in Recovery today.

Oh, the Grief of Witnessing a Loved One’s Addiction

Spiral of Recovery - inspired by Stephanie Covington

"My adult daughter is addicted to alcohol. She has a long history of mental illness including depression, anxiety, ADD, possibly bipolar. Her growing years seemed to be hard on her as she never felt good enough and compared herself to everyone else, making herself look bad. I think those were the seeds for developing the addiction. Add to that the fact that I have a lot of alcoholism in my family and even quit drinking myself 40 years ago because I saw the road ahead of me and didn't want that.

Now my daughter has lost her job as an RN, she is losing friends unless they drink too much also, she is constantly running into problems with her boyfriend of 11 years. He happens to be an enabler and not much in the way of CRAFT support. They own a home together and now she can't pay her share so the house may get sold. Forget about the fact that we planned and paid for them to join our family on a cruise 2 weeks from now (That won't happen with her in this state so tons of money wasted. We'll cruise without them.)

Common enough problems in the life of an addicted person.

My husband and I use the CRAFT approach as much as possible but then things haven't been horrible. She drinks too much but stays home so when she gets nasty, angry and abusive the world doesn't see. Last night the police called my niece to come and get her because she was drunk and disorderly out in public including while her boyfriend was trying to drive. They must have found the niece's number in her phone.

Our daughter claims she had been sober for over a week with a few other successful stretches over the past 6 weeks or so but she's has had the worst time getting into treatment. Her recovery coach never calls. They have met once in 2 weeks. There is no program in place, just promises the coach will look into an intensive outpatient program and some counseling. In the meantime my daughter is struggling. She could do more on her own but the depression locks her in her house all day, despite my encouragement through texts and emails.

I don't think we can even call this a relapse if she has never been through a program.

I know our problems can seem small in the larger scheme of things in the world of addiction but it is ours and we are struggling to keep ourselves together.

Thank you for sharing this. It was an important read for me today. I also feel afraid that I am misreading things but then my daughter is still using alcohol. I am fortunate that it doesn't take much to bump up my spirits but time and again the hopes are dashed. My daughter says she is starting a program and it's one that I recommended. Being in the position of support person as well as provider of simple rewards works for me but I don't want to be taken for a fool so I constantly ask myself if she's lying."

Dear gptraveler, your daughter suffers from depression as well as alcohol addiction. The depression “locks her away in the house,” where she drinks. This makes reaching her difficult. The problems are escalating, in the sense that she recently had a run-in with the police, and her partner of 11 years, with whom she shares a home, may be getting fed up. He has been of little help in terms of CRAFT. Your daughter has a recovery coach who hasn’t been much help with the additional treatment your daughter needs, and that she actually perhaps wants at times.

First off, your daughter’s problems are real and serious, whether it is opiates, pot, or alcohol. Addiction is addiction. The drug of choice to some degree dictates the danger and consequences, but the cycle of addiction is the same. Remember in Learning Module 1, where we provide the graph of the non-linear advance towards sobriety over time?

inspired by stephanie covington

Your daughter may well have put one week of non-drinking together, maybe a little more, over the last 6 weeks. She is trying, and failing, to hang on to sobriety. She is hopefully learning from every failure. She is gaining a little more insight each time she feels defeated and drinks again. It is not a waste of time. It is part of a difficult process. It is also a very difficult part of the process for the family to stand by and watch.

You talk about your hopes rising and falling alongside your daughter’s drinking.

A couple things. The first is to find a way to get off your daughter’s coattails, emotionally speaking. Riding so close behind her as she goes up and down is exhausting. Know that she is in a process, that the movement is towards recovery (Learning Module 1), and that your worry and thoughts can be modulated (Learning Module 7). The effects on you are so damaging. Redouble your efforts to get a handle on your feelings. The situation with your daughter may take time before it is completely resolved. You have no choice but to find ways to live with it.

Your analogy comparing the cycle of grief around a Loved One's relapse to the grief when somebody dies is a good one. Relapse for the family has its stages. Having the insight to (even sometimes, even imperfectly …) expect the shock, pain, anger, depression, and then hope, might help you step back from these very strong feelings. Maybe they still come on like a bomb, but you are more quickly able to realize the emotion that just exploded in front of you, and can talk yourself away from the blistering heat more quickly. Perhaps it looks like this:

She just relapsed. My chest is going to break open I am so infuriated. Fury, aha, okay, why? Yes, she relapsed. It makes sense to be angry. She told me she was going to a program. Instead she relapsed. She lied, she is always lying. She takes me for a fool. But this is part of the process: relapse, brief stop, relapse, slightly longer stop, brief relapse, etc. Deep breath. I have to get to that yoga class. I better call my therapist. Deep breath. I’ve learned relapse is part of the process. How do I know that she takes me for a fool. That is me projecting. She is never going to get sober. Me again, the ever and never’s, the all-negative thinking. She probably never even thought about me. Time to depersonalize. Okay, I feel a little better. She is bound to relapse, maybe again before it really stops.

I am sending this paragraph to Laurie and Annie…it is a good topic for a podcast.

Next, let’s not wait for the recovery coach to come through. Your daughter needs a detailed list of detoxes in the area, inpatient residential, intensive outpatient programs, a psychiatrist, a therapist, and some solid, close-by, self-help meetings. You are going to have to do this. Give the list to your daughter and tell her you’ll help her with anything she wants to try.

The question of when to reward and when to step away and allow natural consequences is never easy to answer. Your daughter says she is starting a program. Maybe. I’d like to see the boyfriend watch the modules. I’d like to see the circle around her more unified, talking and sharing information. In this way, you can gauge what she does (vs. what she says) and thus become better informed of her patterns. Knowing the patterns can make you a little clearer when to reward and when to step away. Remember, it will always be a bit grey. You will make mistakes.

It’s so easy to write this, yet it can be so hard to do. Your willingness to be on this site and to look for help motivates all of us to keep trying. Thank you.



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. Our adult daughter is in her 5th week of treatment. She will be headed back to her home in less than 2 weeks. She sounds good on the phone and is committed to the work she’s been doing in rehab. This coming week she will be working with the staff on her plan for after discharge. We plan to continue partial financial support until she is back working full time. She hopes to work only part time for while and we support that decision. I think she is hoping/planning to work with an outpatient program for a while.
    My question for AiR is what things should my husband and I keep in mind so we can provide the best emotional support as she transitions home? We won’t be inserting ourselves into her recovery since we have no idea what she is supposed to be doing.
    Is there a convenient list of things to keep in mind?

    1. It was such a relief to hear that your daughter found the treatment that she did this summer. Kudos to her and to you for seeing her through those rough patches that led up to her finally getting help.

      It’s also great to her that she is feeling grounded in her recovery work. That she is addressing the aftercare plan with the staff, and planning to ease back in to her life with part-time work at first is also great news. Your willingness to support her in this transition – and to stay out of her hair as much as you can – is so important. Thank you for being there for her in this way.

      Read my full response to gptraveler here:

  2. I am coming to this discussion today because my husband and I have made the decision to Section 35 our 40 year old daughter on Monday. We have encouraged her to get the Vivitrol shot and take any steps toward her own recovery. She says she wants to get the shot, knows their hours of operation, but hasn’t stepped up over many destructive weeks of drinking. Instead she is sitting at home after losing her dream job, wallowing in self pity and lashing out at others. She may lose the house she shares with her boyfriend of 12 years because nothing has moved her toward recovery and with it financial responsibility. She can’t work while addicted and actively using and abusing alcohol. Their relationship is very poor now.
    So we have filled out the paperwork and are waiting til Monday (today is Thurs and we are away all day) so we can be sure we have a fresh time frame for the process to roll. We may fail in our attempt but we will learn the process and I am eager(?) to get started. My husband suggests we go to the court house tomorrow so we are not as lost on Monday.
    I will wait til Sunday to inform her boyfriend as he has a big mouth and might jab her with the information of our action just to scare or hurt her. He has several videos of our daughter where she has been threatening herself and others. He can’t file himself and has not called the police in the past when the situations came up.
    My heart breaks as we move on to this next big step even while I know it is part of the process. So I come here today looking for emotional and psychological support as a mom. I know you are here. I know I am not alone. And I am grateful for AIR as it sustains me during the most difficult times in this struggle.

    1. Hello GP:

      We are here. Your daughter seems caught between wanting to stop drinking and drinking. At 40, ambiguity is raging and I would guess her body and mind are tired, very tired. She is again on the verge of losing everything.

      Please push hard for the civil commitment to start her on the monthly Naltrexone shot called Vivitrol. It has shown promise with alcohol. She will also benefit from not going straight home but to a live-in program. Let us know how the civil commitment goes, whether they are providing a solid aftercare plan and whether they are working with you to do so.

      1. Here’s an update. The morning we planned to go to court, our daughter’s boyfriend emailed us that he saw a significant change in her and asked us to wait a week. We agreed to wait a couple days. In that time she was desperate to start treatment. It took a day or more for her to accept that her state insurance was not getting her a bed in a “nice” place. Finally she had a plan. She was to be admitted to a facility on the other end of the state but needed to meet with the crisis team at an ER so they could initiate the referral. They don’t hold beds so waiting til later in the day meant there was no bed. Then suddenly there was a bed and things started rolling. Then the supervisor at the place she was set to go to called and said our daughter’s insurance won’t cover it unless she is suicidal, which she wasn’t. Now she has spent 2 nights in the ER behavioral health pod while waiting for a bed.
        The latest development was when I called early today, they said they were under strict instructions from my daughter not to discuss her plans or condition with me at all. That breaks my heart. I respect her wishes but now I am burdened with guilt and don’t understand what I have done. I have a ton of responsibility for other things this coming week as I care for a disabled brother on vacation so I will be occupied much of the time. I think I will look up a friends and family type meeting and unload some sadness there while I’m away.

        1. Your daughter is bouncing around the treatment system. I don’t see that there is much you can do. Your daughter has asked that her planning not be shared with you. Her choice, too bad, but okay, let her do it.

          You have the civil commitment papers ready should she fall out of this effort of getting into treatment. I am sorry that the treatment world is its own rollercoaster. More fun for families!

          You daughter is on the move towards treatment. This is very good news. Pay attention to those other things in your life. She will call if she needs help. Her boyfriend will probably keep you posted.

        2. Sharing the latest update. After the 3rd day of sleeping in the ER, she was told she was discharged without getting a dual diagnosis treatment bed. I had hoped that the hospital would have taken care of getting the process started at a facility. My daughter texted me with the update and her frustration. She still wanted treatment.
          What has proven to be incredibly frustrating for days on end is every time she calls a place and talks to someone about dual diagnosis, she gets a different story, depending who she is talking to. One minute she can get in and the very next she can’t. Over and over again.
          Well anyway, she hung in there.
          Then it struck me that we could separate the treatments into mental health and alcohol addiction. Getting the mental health piece while working on her sobriety outpatient addresses her most pressing need – an accurate mental health diagnosis.
          I gave her the name of a couple more places including Fuller Hospital and McLean (the latter being a place we had tried a few days earlier for dual diagnosis.)
          The day after discharge she had a therapy appointment and a Vivitrol injection. She spoke with someone at Naukeag who said the insurance was a go. An application was completed and faxed in and she received a call the following day that she was on a wait list. Fuller would also take her but she chose to wait for Naukeag, her first choice. Every day, she is higher on the wait list and she continues to work the plan. If she falters then we will direct her to call Fuller for quicker treatment.
          I added in the stipulation that she go to a meeting somewhere every day. She missed a day but went to 2 on another day.
          The carrot we dangled was we will pick up some of her share of the household expenses while she is working on recovery. In that way, she and her boyfriend won’t lose the house.
          I realize that we have some power here and that actually doesn’t feel good but the support we are providing has moved her from hopeless to hopeful. Still it’s one day at a time.
          I will update again later. We see possibilities and she is feeling more positive. I hope she maintains. We are remaining realistic.

        3. GO TEAM! It takes a village. It’s not helpful that part of the village is working against your daughter. The system for dual diagnosis is indeed spotty. You’re using your support for her in strategic ways. You see the path and are providing her with concrete steps to follow that path. Here’s to you

          Do keep us posted.

        4. Here’s another update.
          A few wonderful things happened this past week. I had a song dedicated to me and performed by Daphne Willis. “Somebody’s Someone” is an anthem of sorts. My daughter had written to the singer/songwriter telling her that I had shared the song with her last year and that she wanted me to attend a concert at a local venue on my birthday. During the performance, Daphne said “someone is celebrating a birthday…” and my jaw dropped. She said some pretty wonderful things about my daughter and I and they are all connected by love and support.
          Next, my daughter entered a dual diagnosis program that she had been waiting for. She is very positive. It’s really all up to her now and I hope and pray she will latch on to the experience and grow in all the right ways. I know that this is an intensive step, one where she will be exposed to lots of reflection, tools, and strategies that can help her in recovery. The program is only 2 weeks but she is already talking about going on to another program after this first part. The primary focus of these two weeks is getting a solid mental health diagnosis and a plan for medications. She is also due for another Vivitrol shot so I hope she can get that there. Feeling positive and hoping to feel this way for a while.

        5. We’re so so grateful for your taking the time to share the wonderful moments as well. We all need these boosts!

          What an amazing story that Daphne Willis dedicated and sang a song (that song!!!) to you. What a lovely idea on your daughter’s part.

          And….your daughter is in a dual diagnosis program, one she really wanted…and is aiming for more treatment after that. This is simply HUGE. We are all so happy for her, and for you. Enjoy the feelings of positivity that you describe.

          Perhaps also take this opportunity, while you know she’s in excellent hands, to really step back and breathe, do some generous and caring things for yourself, and focus back on self-care?

          Again, thank you so very much for the update. Our thoughts are with your daughter and your family.

  3. PTSD
    Is there ever a point where a parent feels secure? Our alcoholic daughter caused great worry and heartache in her later teen years and now well into adulthood. She was in the ER, jumping out of moving cars, freaking out in a bar, causing friends concern.
    We had several years where we didn’t get calls to rescue her in one situation or another. Turns out, she had someone else managing these crises. We had been thinking she finally grew up. But still I worried.
    In the past year we learned that things had never been worse and we were once again asked to manage it in part.
    I will never relax when certain things happen, not just the phone in the middle of the night but any email or text from her boyfriend. That means that at least once a day I will have a brief anxiety attack until I see the message is not about a problem.
    Constantly on the alert for any and all worst case scenarios. I wish I could have some real peace. Does this ever go away?

    1. Dr GPTraveler,

      Ironically, one of the original meanings of my son’s name is “Traveler.” That’s how I address cards to him sometimes. I remember thinking how glamorous, adventurous, THRILLING Traveler sounded when he was small. But, as he grew into an adult and those travels included some scary paths of addiction and the reckless behaviors, people, places and things that involved – I thought maybe I should have named him something that meant, “Never leave my sight!”

      With that said I can say this, being a parent is lifelong. When our children wake up on their 18th birthday, our heart doesn’t quickly cross the threshold of adulthood with them. We still see them as the child we looked out for, nurtured, protected, rocked to sleep! That is ingrained and instinctual (usually, not all parents have that sensitivity, my Mother was not super maternal, but that is another subject). Most of us however, have the parenting concerns grooved and ingrained into our thought processes. Those patterns of thought can become absolutely consuming when our son or daughter experiences fiery trials, even at their own hand. I don’t think anyone gets perfect at the process, nor should we have to. But, we can get better and we can get healthy in the midst of it.

      I think experiencing triggers when getting certain calls or texts is very normal. Believe me, I can revert right back to the adrenaline surge myself, and our family has had peace for quite some time. That’s not right or wrong, it just is. The key is, what do I do with those moments? Do I race along ahead of them? Jump into the mess and get tangled in the chaos too?

      Or do I stop, breathe, and think? It takes a moment to peel ourselves off the ceiling, and get that pulse back down. Fight, flight, and freeze is not joke!

      In those moments, I know have to take a breath and apply logic to that emotion. Perhaps I will phone a friend or source of support. Sometimes I will write the three questions: “What am I feeling? What can I do? What am I going to do?” On a post-it note and then let wisdom come to me. I know I have to manage my triggers, gather my thoughts and regulate my emotions. That is a fact. And the better I get at doing that, the better the chance of handling the situation. The fact is, we are all connected, my responses certainly don’t control outcomes, but they absolutely influence and impact them. So that is where I always turn my attention.

      A peaceful, steadfast response has more power than almost anything.

      Strengthening that skill ripples through the cord of family ties. When I practice being calm and strong on my end, I can’t easily be whipped along with chaos when it comes. The shaking may still happen, but it doesn’t control me and eventually my peace calms the connection. It’s something I practice and believe, and have seen work too many times to discount. That is why CRAFT is so powerful. Making those adjustments to be healthy and peaceful on my side of the road, eventually impacts theirs.

      The feelings are understandable, they sure do like to revisit now and then! The important thing is how we navigate them, what we do with them. Healthy methods of response—that’s how change, progress and peace is produced.

      You are not alone, that I promise. It’s a process.

      Your Fellow Traveler,

      1. Thank you Annie. So, I am not alone in struggling with the panic that pushes me all too often. You said, “Sometimes I will write the three questions: “What am I feeling? What can I do? What am I going to do?” Good advice. I’ve done so much self-reflection since this circus began that I am constantly finding new areas that need work. Boy, it can be exhausting, and without a strong advocate in my own life, I stumble making progress toward finding the real me and my own worth.
        Every day, I try again.
        Thank you for the support. It is greatly appreciated.

        1. Hello,

          You are very welcome. I went too many years without strong support. Just plowing through and trying to live from crisis to crisis and have as much of a “normal” life as possible, while caught between two people with chaotic addictions (my son and my mother). If one wasn’t creating havoc, it was the other. Both at once made me feel like my head might explode. Chaos was a constant companion and when it would quiet down, fear, dread and sorrow filled it’s place.

          I became my own advocate first. I began to search out people, information, classes, groups, relevant podcasts, online sites (such as this one!), and so on when it came to everything I was dealing with in my life. I sometimes found a reason to pop into the local pharmacy to ask the Pharmacist specific questions about abuse of medication. I kept journals and took the process on as if I was shooting for a degree! That process gradually brought new awareness, stronger tools and skills, and supportive people into my life.

          All of this work and discovery pays OFF for years to come. None of it is in vain. That’s the beauty of recovery work. Beautiful things often come from dark places. Keep doing it! Your future self and the condition of your family will thank you.



        2. gptraveler,

          It may also help to note that science has proven that “adrenaline surges” do not create negativity and yet only exaggerate, intensify the experience of attitude you’ve already chosen and adopted. For example the study showed that if a person had a positive attitude that the introduction of adrenaline into their body merely brought the innermost positivity they truly kept inside to a heightened expression. The same was true when there was deep seated negativity.

          This teaches me that I must look behind my beliefs to whether I truly feel important enough to be loved and have things work out as they should for me. To always question my innermost state of mind and whether I truly am at peace and consider the quality of the time I am enjoying or am I experiencing some sort of denial of an inner negativity. I can deny negativity yet adrenaline triggers will bring out the truth.

          I began to cleanse my inner beliefs by testing whether I truly trust and believe that I am lovable, important enough for things to work out for me, and that on the horizon are blessings meant for me if I will only be receptive of the positive for ME. My LO will have the same option and yet 1st and foremost I must unhook from the negativity outside myself in order to create the positivity within myself in order to be a positive influence on ANYONE around me and especially I want to be this for my LO and create the conditions most advantageous for recovery.

          So to summarize, adrenaline merely triggers my innermost reality to surface so I shouldn’t be concerned about triggers and yet the choices I make now as to my perspective and attitude that I am in control of. To me this is empowering because I am in control and therefore no longer feel helpless nor resist the fear that energizes me to revisit what I can and cannot control in order to let that energy give me a task that is within my control as opposed to feeling there is nothing I can control and therefore resist any energy pushing me to do anything at all except resist it.

          Making a list of the controllables gives me the ability to experience the energy of fear rather than resist and be entrapped by it.
          I can think of things I am grateful for
          I can have safe things to say to my LO with SUD(I love you, I understand you, I encourage you, whatever you prove to yourself actually helps you and them)
          study CRAFT
          go to Al Anon yet with people there that know CRAFT or at least think the same way
          get a CRAFT sponsor
          take care of yourself
          take a deep breath and hold it when you have a negative thought or tense moment
          talk it out with a wise person like on here with Dominique
          lobby for more humane drug laws and options in your state
          lobby to open up beds upon immediate need for all people regardless of ability to pay
          learn more about addiction from wiser people(get wisdom)
          eat right
          value time more than money
          value quality time more than merely pastimes
          value LO’s as they are
          see the art of people rather than their value according to my value
          catch my LO not using and hug the $%# out of them
          give my LO opportunities to do the things they love most
          (never punish them by taking away the things THEY, not me, enjoy doing the most)
          celebrate their uniqueness
          “anything you see you are in control of”

          This is my list and I don’t even know if this is right yet even if it is confusing on the surface its essence makes sense to ME, not necessarily you, yet ME. I also need to understand my LO is unique and different than me. Things that “turn on” my LO don’t turn me on. Am I unhooked? Do I know my LO is not an extension of ME?

          My posts are therapy for me and not about you yet I imagine parts of it might help yet take what you like and leave the rest is appropriate. So while I hope it helps I do think it helps me sort through my own stuff and get my story straight so that what I will give to future situations will be more positive and nearer to my best.

        3. Hello 228,
          Thank you so much for sharing your strategies for dealing with your PTSD. I have been practicing imaging a best case scenario (BCS) each time I feel one of those panicked adrenaline surges and have been passing along the technique to others in my support community. It helps.

          I will now add your insight that the adrenaline surge is not inherently negative and reflects my emotional state about how I feel about myself. Do I deserve peace of mind? How can I practice giving it to myself even when life is crazy? It is one of the the things I do have control over. I continue to work on those aspects of myself even as my son journeys into 1 1/2 years in recovery. I remain grateful for my journey, how it has changed me and the wisdom I have gained.

          I finally read “Beyond Addiction” which further reinforced my embrace of CRAFT. One of my takeaways was something you mentioned: embracing ambiguity. My son’s recovery and his crafting of a full life for himself has been miraculous, but it has not been through a whole hearted acceptance of the lifestyle and mindset of AA. At first that lack of commitment to tangible “steps” scared me silly, but I have come to see seeking security in a defined path is chasing an illusion. I am still working on embracing the ambiguity and uncertainty that is each persons path in life rather than craving reassurance through dogma and black and white thinking.

          Please keep posting your wise comments. Your sharing with this community is greatly appreciated.

        4. Hello Momdog,

          Well, that made my day.

          I bought that book, “Beyond Addiction” and also “Getting Your Loved One Sober” yet I haven’t read them yet. I think I will start reading it.

          I think I read many decades ago that “our soul is the battle ground of good and evil” and saying kind of stuck with me yet didn’t combine with the “embrace their ambivalence” part of CRAFT until this past year when I sought and found CRAFT and Allies in Recovery. The “battle ground of good and evil” part struck me as true and since that is pretty much the definition of ambivalence from what I’ve read of the authors that wrote “Beyond Addiction”(Kosanke has psychology papers discussing ambivalence that I’ve read).

          Based on the definition of a soul I read about decades earlier and the events of the last couple of years with my loved one I began to think I need to be supportive of ambivalence because this is my loved ones very soul. I haven’t been able to contradict this yet have only been able to support it as the truth. Dominique said somewhere that admitting that the drug has benefits can make you an ally with the addict facing the ambivalence. I did do that with my loved one. I don’t know if I wrote about that yet I did it and I think I saw a light turn on in his eyes. I think at that moment trust building was occurring that was vital in the moment of opportunity when he was faced with consequences and needed an ally in recovery. Me.

          I think we are on to something in here and all of us can be grateful if the one thing we’ve learned to embrace actually turns out to be the very soul of everyone that many of us have been afraid to embrace. I think we might all be on the brink of a great blessing that we’ve thought was a curse. I told my loved one this as well. This whole thing I think is G0d’s doing because He needed to show us to not be afraid of His immeasurable power within us. That ambivalence we feared may not be a “lacking” and yet the backdrop of our very soul enlightened by His immeasurable power of LIGHT within us.

    2. Dear gptraveler:

      I considered myself as being “hooked” to my LO in the way you describe. Hooked to the LO’s outcomes. My mind was hooked to my thoughts on the reality of my LO. To me this is where the Al Anon slogan of “Detach with love” actually applies. I believe that fear and love cannot exist together in relationship with my influence on my LO. The obsession with the worst case scenario can be reinforced by my LO actualizing my fears. At some point however I must “unhook” from that in order that I may find peace and share it back with my LO. I guess “why” this is important is better to focus on than “how” to do it. Also a very thorough examination of my beliefs, perspectives and attitudes is in order to ensure that I know clearly what I can control and cannot and the importance of controlling the controllable; mainly my positivity, my serenity, my treatment of my outlook as a process, my enjoyment(yes, it can be enjoyed) of the process.

      Working through the CRAFT modules help me to understand the controllable. I can put the address, phone numbers, of a rehab and even talk to them in advance and facilitate the entrance of my LO in case the LO wants to enter w/o me knowing it. I can be ready to take my LO to treatment if they express a wish/dip and then I use the opportunity to suggest treatment yet because I am already prepared if they desire to go to rehab there will be no unnecessary delay because I’m already prepared, ready and so is the facility because I’ve been talking with them.

      Also, my morale is raised when I am already in contact with the solution. I can also find people that understand the process to share morale with me. I can also understand that recovery happens all the time; sometimes people even have an epiphany. I can also suggest other people that love my LO can educate themselves in CRAFT and Al Anon(because I think when my LO sees the concern of many people it sometimes penetrates through the shell of their addiction and they feel loved enough to consider there may be a way out of the addiction).

      If I “unhook” my peace of mind from my LO in their addiction I also unburden my LO with the weight of my “peace” and “security”. My LO has enough of a task to carry the weight of their own peace, security and existence to also bear the weight of mine. For me this is the best argument of “why” to unhook or detach from the emotions of their addiction and that is that they should be focused on themselves and only on the burden that is truly theirs and not the burden of mine. This is healthy for both me and them I think.

      Also, to unhook from the obsession with the “Worst Case Scenario”(WCS) I came up with a technique that works for me to create an equal and opposite “Best Case Scenario”(BCS). This is healthy since in reality the WCS is not real yet so the BCS is possible(pick one that is possible), so if I am imagining I should create the room for ambivalence where the future resides in reality. An example when you can’t get the LO on the phone and immediately think, “omg, she is using and perhaps overdosing” and can also think, “she is experiencing a desire to change and talking with someone that is expressing alternatives, options and a vision of a new way of life”. Or if they are working you might think, “they are OD’d or sleeping in and will get fired or die” or “they are in their bosses office getting a raise!”. The key is to always balance a WCS with a BCS. Every LO and situation is unique so it is up to you to pick realistic BCS’s that match the situation and your WCS with an equal and opposite and FEASIBLE BCS.

      Another method I use is to always understand that there are two things I am feeling with the fear of my LO’s spiraling life. 1) The fear 2) My resistance to the fear. Its unpleasant because I am resisting it because I don’t see anything useful that I can do. That helpless feeling confronting my fear creates resistance to it which is even worse(this is the reason to have a list of “controllables” see above or ask for mine if you need to). Once I distinguish and separate the “fear” from its “resistance” I am able to be aware of and feel the fear alone and realize it isn’t unpleasant and yet a type of energy. The resistance on the other hand is a disease and very unpleasant. If I am resisting the chemical released in my body that stimulates fear, my body won’t metabolize the fear and yet this physical/emotional resistance will prolong and increase the fear and I am not sure whether it is releasing more of the chemical or not yet once I separate fear from its resistance I began to enjoy fear and embrace it for what it is energizing me to do. Namely the controllables in my life like: focus on BCS, positives, things I am grateful for(they are alive), there is hope, the process means I can try new things, it ain’t over til its over.

      I guess this is awareness, acceptance and action and yet action can include imagining 2 doors I can choose to go through and to think of the future if I choose the one door of my action and the other ie. DOOR #1 I can panic and spread my panic to them and scream at them of how worried I was or DOOR #2 I use these methods to find my BCS to balance the WCS and find my serenity in the ambivalence and also trust in the process. I think DOOR #2 leads to the chance to create the conditions for our LO’s to embrace their ambivalence, and find their way to recovery. I think it was here in AIR and using CRAFT that taught me to embrace the ambivalence. Perhaps someone will confirm that yet I know it works for me.

      I hope this makes sense for you and helps. It helps me. Remember if I am “hooked” to my LO then who has the addiction? Remember if I cannot “unhook” from fear then I am not really a good influence on anyone. I first have to learn to be in control of my fear. Sorry this is so long yet I struggle to get this condensed yet I will keep trying.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. It is a lot to digest. In the 9 days since I wrote my first comment above, I have been able to detach. I do not have permission to share the addiction with my daughter and as you have said, admitting that has eased some of her burden.
        I am taking a different road for now for the sake of my sanity and emotional well being. I will not discuss her problem with her. I will not check in with questions about whether or not she is drinking or taking the naltrexone. It is her battle and she doesn’t need my cheerleading on the sidelines.
        My experience with her is more easily managed because she does not live with me and has a job she loves. For now, things sound like they are going well. I will embrace that. In the past, I have prepared myself for the WCS you speak of and they have ruled my mind and heart. Now I have given myself permission to relax. Anxious or relaxed, it makes no difference in how she behaves so I can embrace the self care of letting go. It feels so much better. If things go south again, at least I have had had this time of calm and well being, and more importantly this time of detachment so I will have a better perspective for moving forward.

        1. Now I have given myself permission to relax. Anxious or relaxed, it makes no difference in how she behaves so I can embrace the self care of letting go. It feels so much better. If things go south again, at least I have had had this time of calm and well being, and more importantly this time of detachment so I will have a better perspective for moving forward.

          This is worth repeating. Thank you GPtraveler.

          If we are working on being in the moment, then the future hasn’t happened and we can withhold our fear and worry —- and try hard to replace it with “the self care of letting go.”

          By doing this, even a little, you are pushing yourself into a different head space, and giving your life a break.

  4. It has been a couple of months since this post went up.
    My daughter is still in chaos. She went to the IOP and did well for about 10 days. She started Naltrexone and stayed sober during our cruise. Instead of drinking she ate tremendous amounts of food, never satisfied.
    Once she got back home we only exchanged texts, didn’t see each other. I emailed daily until she replied the emails were getting irritating. She was desperate for money so she took a job offer and started a long orientation. I don’t know when she stopped going to the IOP but a month after our cruise, her boyfriend reported she had been drinking the whole time she was back. We were shocked since we never knew. Apparently she stopped the med as well as her depression med.
    I have a view of her situation at home that may be way off but I don’t think there is a positive environment. His texts to me say he is fed up, the house will be foreclosed, he stays at a motel when she drinks, and now he is being laid off.
    I told her I appreciate her honesty. So yesterday she texted that she drank the night before and called in to work (not the first time in 3 weeks on the job.) She said she is depressed and feels horrible. She also doesn’t want to talk. I think she will lose this job. Then she has the chance to go back to the IOP which is on hold. I encouraged her to get the Vivitrol so she doesn’t have to take the pill. I remind her of other things – relapse happens, every day is a good day to start, she can do this (her words), but she needs a new plan. Would she do better at our home? I think a lot of people would disagree. I am powerless and I need to take care of myself but I am back to obsessing about this day and night.

    1. I found myself searching for the topic”depression” after our daughter’s most recent alcohol relapse. Re-reading this thread has been refreshing. I can see how far I have come in managing my response to my daughters addiction. I can put the brakes on panic, allot a certain amount of time for obsessive thinking, and can actively dial down my response by pushing thoughts away. I find something calming to occupy my mind, usually reading some fiction. I don’t mean to say I am not very upset because I am but after grasping the tragedy I can accept things more easily. It’s become more familiar and I can predict my response without being a victim to it. While she is using, I engage less with her, detaching with love, and waiting till she responds – usually she does so with apologies. So I am keeping busy, accepting my own sadness, even depression, and moving forward with love for her and for myself. One day at a time.

  5. How do I let go and step back? As a parent, I think I have some super power over my kids, that they will listen to me because I know best. Heck, my kids are 37 & 39. The older one has the depression and alcohol abuse.
    She was in an IOP for a little over a week when we went on a family vacation with their boyfriends and my husband (planned and paid for 6 months ago.) We were on a ship and she really did well every single day. She took her med and had a good time without any drinking.
    Now we are back and for some reason I am worried she will go back to drinking. She doesn’t live with me and I’m afraid to directly ask her – Are you back in the IOP? Are you still not drinking?
    These questions nag at me. I know I have to step back but it’s so hard. Is there a trick to letting go and focusing on me? I appreciate any help others can give me.

    1. Hi gptraveler,

      I am so glad your family vacation went well. It is great that you and your family could spend some quality time together and create happy memories! We all need that especially when going through difficult times. We have to appreciate every moment we have.

      Boy oh boy, I found that being able to let go and focus on myself was one of the most difficult things to do. But, looking back, it was one of the most important things I could do in order to make the situation better.

      I have also realized that practicing CRAFT, is doing just that: focusing on myself to allow for healing not only on my part but for my family as a whole. Learning better communication tools, gaining control over my thoughts to help regulate difficult feelings, learning how to reinforce good behaviors and step away from addictive behaviors, etc. brought a sense of calmness and peace with in me. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon encourages us to take care of ourselves and CRAFT gives us the tools to put into action those recommendations. Armed with new skills I was able to help influence and direct my Loved One to the continued help that he needed. Our communication and how we engage with one another as a family is improved and has reduced (notice I say reduced and not eliminated, ha ha)a lot of the conflict and chaos.

      But, bear in mind, it has taken a lot of time on my part to get here. I know I am still not done working on myself either. I have moments when I lapse back into old patterns and I have do the work to get myself out of it. So I guess what is true for our Loved Ones is also true for us: progress not perfection.

      Just thought I would share something I do when obsessive thoughts seem to dominate my day. I have predetermined, thinking about an issue that I am not sure is true or not, or, something I might not have any control over, does not warrant any more thought then 15 minutes. So I let the thoughts come and the feelings wave over me, kind of let them take control for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, I put the thoughts in an imaginary ‘thought box’ (some might call it a ‘God box’) and they are not allowed to come out until the next day. If I find the thoughts creeping back into my head, I find something to do. Maybe some way to take care of myself like go for a walk on the beach, or grab a cup of coffee with a friend that won’t ask or talk about my LO. Controlling my thoughts and using calming techniques with my feelings has helped to reduce the worrying that I used to do. Instead of worrying about something that has just as much likelihood of happening than not happening, I deal with what happens as it comes (and believe me this is easier said than done).

      I know this strategy might not be workable for you but, maybe others can post a skill or method they use to overcome obsessive thinking. Watching Module 7 can also help. I know I have had to watch it repeatedly to get the most out of it. Each time I re-watch, I learn something I did not see previously.

      I hope that sharing will be helpful. I wish for healing for everyone on a similar journey as us.

      Remember, you are not alone. We are all in this together.


      1. “I have predetermined, thinking about an issue that I am not sure is true or not, or, something I might not have any control over, does not warrant any more thought then 15 minutes. So I let the thoughts come and the feelings wave over me, kind of let them take control for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, I put the thoughts in an imaginary ‘thought box’ (some might call it a ‘God box’) and they are not allowed to come out until the next day.”

        What a powerful message. Thank you for taking the time to share this with me. I am better at compartmentalizing and think I will employ this (at least I hope it comes to mind) the next time I start to obsess again. At our Learn2Cope meeting I hear story after story of parents worrying but I also hear how people are doing self-care in an active way in order to hold on to their sanity. Letting go and focusing on myself is not my nature. I have to actively apply self-preservation techniques with varying degrees of success. Visiting Allies In Recovery each morning to read the blog posts, write in My Private Journal, and track My Progress has helped me keep things clearer. After that, I move on to Learn2Cope for more guidance. Finally I write a brief email to my daughter offering love and encouragement as she continues her recovery work. It seems like a good way to focus my time and then let things go for a longer time. I have done something I can do and pushed away that powerless feeling we get. Thank you Laurie for the support you continue to offer. I am not alone.

        1. My daughter made it clear she doesn’t appreciate my emails of support. She said they make her feel bad and there’s more to her life than dealing with alcoholism and her recovery. She is still taking Naltrexone and was attending her IOP. I will not be getting any updates.
          My job is to self care. That is going pretty well, at least until the next problem arises. I will enjoy the vacation from worry by keeping busy, doing things I have let slide, watching for messages on taking care of myself, and actively letting go.
          I had started a collection of inspirational posters for my daughter but it also has 3 posters that are uplifting in their messages to me. I will add more that can help me. I will continue to add posters that pertain to her recovery as well but since she isn’t likely to check the shared folder, I am not irritating her. They are available should she find a need.
          I am important and I need to make my own recovery. I would like that mantra to replay in my head.

        2. Its great that you know now that your daughter doesn’t appreciate the emails. The emails worked for you and yet not for her. Advice I hear from people after someone asks, “how do I know if things I do are not being received well?” is to simply and directly ask them. I think every LO is different so advice that is generic isn’t accepting that every relationship is different because there are two unique people involved. I believe that it must be like a dance and not a wrestling match and that over time my LO and I can develop a relationship where we both get everything we need to cope with the realities we face in life. I am inspired to ask my LO if some of the things I’m doing to cope are equally helpful to my LO’s coping.

  6. Thank you Dominique. So much of what you say here makes sense. The first thing I did after watching the modules weeks ago was share the site with her boyfriend. We talked about how he can talk to her when she’s drinking and when she’s not. He tried to be more positive for a few days but then went back to the arguments and wants nothing to do with her.
    My daughter is a very private person. She doesn’t let me in. As you said, I may be too close emotionally and on her coattails. Almost every morning I write her an email offering support and over the many weeks I’ve shared tons of programs and resources. She has checked out a few of them and gone to a couple of meetings with a friend. That is good. Having the resources readily available works.
    She texted me this evening that tomorrow she starts an IOP. That is a big step.
    I was really impacted by the “advance to sobriety” graphic above when I first saw it in Module 1. It has saved me many times when she relapsed. While disappointing to see a relapse, I know that it will take time and that can include cycles.
    My biggest take-away today is to step back and give her more room. She has started a program and is taking the steps she needs to. I will encourage and support her efforts while keeping more distance. And I sure need to revisit Module 7 to heal myself as well. I’m tired of grieving.