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What I Did to Get Better

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Photo by @Mizrak via Compfight

What follows are some excerpts from a conversation we recently had with an AiR mom whose Loved One has been in recovery from heroin addiction for 10 months. She credits Allies in Recovery, and the CRAFT approach, with having provided her a framework to approach her son in a totally different manner.

She speaks here about the self-care strategies she has found the most useful, and how they’ve helped her to feel better.

Look for another post soon in which this AiR mom talks about what she did to improve her relationship with her Loved One over the years.

On gratitude:

Gratitude has actually been key for me … When I first started working on myself and getting better, gratitude was huge …

Every night, before I went to bed it was, “What do I have in my life that I’ve thankful for? Because there’s got to be some positive things in my life.”

And I did it every morning! And it started small … It was little, little tiny pieces like:

– He’s alive.

– He’s alive for one more day.

– Thanks for that.

And then it grew. Then it became, well, it isn’t all about him…

I have two wonderful daughters! I’m kind of neglecting that part of my life!

And wow! I have a wonderful husband! … And it kind of grew from there.

On staying present in the moment:

So, 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 … and it helped me later on in the day.

On not pushing it down…

I’m a crier. And I hate that I’m a crier. And other people don’t like it, because it makes them feel very uncomfortable when I start crying.

So I spent months holding that in … Literally, I would go to meetings saying to myself, “Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry!” …

And then I did get professional help. And she was like, “No, come on, cry, and let’s see what happens…”

And it was weird … I let it go … Oh my God … I’d been holding this awful knot in my throat for just months … and after I cried: “Oh, I feel better! OK, so it’s OK for me to cry!”

So if someone feels uncomfortable that I’m crying, I can say, “I’m sorry that this makes you uncomfortable, but I need to do this right now.”

On self-care strategies:

There’s a whole slew of things I did:

Just going for walks to make myself feel better … Getting together with a friend and refusing to talk about this … and the more I did that, the better I got.

On getting better: 

What I find a lot of people don’t understand is that you can’t see that you can get better, in the beginning.

So many people now are like, “Well how can you be laughing, and how can you be joking?”

But no, I was the same! … It’s practice … Just like you have to practice a math problem or a sport that you like to play …

And it can get better — it won’t go away — but it will get better.

Laurie is a former math teacher, residing​ in Dartmouth, MA, and extremely active in the recovery community. She currently devotes most of her energy to REST, a non-traditional support group that offers land and online video meetings, access to training in the CRAFT method, and a crisis toolkit helping families create their own individualized crisis plan. ​Her work is guided by a desire to improve the community’s response and end the​ stigma associated with Substance Use Disorder. Laurie loves skiing and ice hockey, and is at her happiest when spending time with her husband and three children. Read her articles on our blog or tune in to the podcast she co-hosts for Allies in Recovery: Coming Up for Air.



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. Thank you for your insight. I have been dealing with my daughter’s addictions for years now. I have finally reached the point of let go & let God. But it isn’t easy. Really your blog made me see that I am not alone with the feelings I have but has also given me to knowledge of things to do for myself & hope that it will get easier for me to deal.

  2. This has been so good to read. I have been dealing with one son that no matter what has been tried and believe me many things have been tried, but he just does not stop his heroin and other addictions. I have focused so much on him that I forget the things around me that have been good. I have an older son and husband that have both been in recovery, one from drugs and the other alcohol for quite some time now and I guess I forget how much I appreciate that. I also have a daughter that I never had a problem with and she is wonderful. It is that one just tends to focus on the problem and not the happy things in life until my oldest son points it out to me.

    I cry every day, but never in front of anyone. If one of my children sees me crying they don’t ask what is wrong, they just say to me how do you think that makes us feel so I never cry in front of anyone. I have been dealing with the addiction problem for at least 15 years and believe me I have been through everything imaginable. I have even had helicopters over my house and 5 State Police cars with sniffing dogs looking for my son because of the things he texted to me the whole night before about killing himself and all the bizarre things that he said.

    Then I get comments from family members that I have never done anything to try and help my sons. They don’t know what I have done because they have never been interested enough to ever ask me how I was or even see what I was doing. All I have ever heard from them is how it is all my fault. I have focused so much on my children and the addiction, that I have forgotten how it is to live and have fun. The most joy I get out of life is going to work. I have for the last couple of months tried doing more things and enjoying myself.

    I feel like I am going insane and I can’t stand looking at my middle son sitting on the couch all day, hardly ever working, doing drugs and drinking. I want him out of the house, but I am so sick of getting sections, dealing with court and police that I just try to ignore him. But then this just leads to everything building up in me until I feel like I am going to explode and then I usually do and start in on him with everything I have. This leads to guilt on my part, so I retreat into myself again. I just keep thinking every day that I wake up, I am one day closer to the end of my life and being rid of this. But, then I think, I would like to enjoy the rest of my life. I feel like I am in a vicious circle. I am going to try doing small things and start from the beginning again so that I can try and feel better each day.

    1. Hi mlb2t, I know exactly how you feel. There was a time when I solely focused on my son too. I had to step back and take a look at what I was doing. I was in a bad state and had to find a way out of it. I was no good to anyone, not me, not my son and no one else in my family. I found that I was neglecting everything in my life, which led to irrational responses and actions towards my son (and other family members too). I had to find a way to get back to a better spot and I realized that meant working on myself. Maybe sharing some things I did might help you? Read the rest of my post: