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When It Rains It Pours


Allies member Shelleybobelly watched Module 7 on Caring for Yourself, but feels the examples given are not appropriate for her life. Between overdoses and relapses, she and her daughter are in crisis mode. Below,  Annie Highwater responds with some thoughts about the emotional storms that accompany crisis, addiction, relapse. 

"I have watched Module 7. The Modules are helpful but your examples really don’t fit real life. My daughter called last night from the RE where she had OD'd. She was dead on arrival and they brought her back. She was trying to leave against doctors' orders. I was up most of the night trying to encourage her to get help. My daughter spent all of last summer in ICU with acute respiratory failure and almost died several times. 10 weeks in the hospital and it was sheer hell. She was doing good until her birthday July 2 when she turned 21…she relapsed and she has entered and left two rehabs this month alone. I will watch module 7 again and see if it can help. I did do the breathing exercise which help me a great deal. shelley"


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Dear Shelleybobelly,

Boy do I understand how you feel.  There are times when the flames seem to rise up from every direction and burn so hot that nothing seems to calm life back down. My situation sometimes felt impossible to me. I, too, have had times with my son (and sometimes my mother, invasive in the middle of us) where no advice seemed to fit the MANY out-of-control situations going on — all at once!  The cliché "When it rains, it pours" could not have been said enough. Those storms can feel extremely difficult and terrifying to navigate. I am so sorry your daughter is struggling, but what a Mom she has—one who is willing to put in the time and work to be a comfort and guide—not everyone has that.  

I am not certain what exactly it will take for your daughter gain time and momentum with her recovery, I just know that treatment, treatment, treatment is the goal and priority. You seem to be doing the right thing to direct her that way. Beyond that, doing the work to manage the emotions her struggle causes (which can be ferocious in the midst of the situation) is another important goal. Trust me, I get it. It's a process. 

I learned to work on things in the calm times, on the days where things were somewhat "okay" and I could breathe and think. That way, when an urgency came up or if chaos set in, I had a plan in place as far as steps to take, numbers to call, people to reach out to who could talk me off the ceiling, etc. The Allies in Recovery member site is great for all of that, and the team is a wonderful support—available for you in those moments. 

Don't hesitate to reach out, email, or call an available number. And be sure you are building a support system for yourself. I attended family support groups, surrounded myself with safe, informed, trustworthy people as I worked on my sanity in the midst of those dark days. Gradually things began to turn around. My son is now six years into his recovery, but there was a time when I didn't think he would ever be healthy (or sane). Now, there is little evidence of those days in our lives, except that we openly talk about it. Recovery is possible!  

None of our situations gets to the crisis point overnight, it takes time to turn it around. I looked at it like turning a ship around—it took time, effort, reaction modification, and adjustment for our family to get on track. The Learning Modules are great, the information resonates in your thinking in moments when you need it. I watched them over and over. There are relatable podcasts on the Allies site, and things you can get from the library or Amazon like therapy workbooks that can help (such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). You can work through those in the meantime, they are SO helpful. Those resources are not expensive and they teach you powerful things in a relatively short time. It's not a one-size-fits-all process, but these are tools that definitely bring about great change.

Remember, you are not alone and it's not hopeless. Your daughter is still LIVING, and you are doing the research and work to be healthy on your end, which can get things headed in the right direction. There is lots of hope for you both.

We are here for you,


Annie Highwater is a Writer, Speaker, Podcast Host and Family Advocate. She has a particular interest in family pathology and concepts of dysfunction, addiction, alcoholism and conflict. Annie published her memoir, Unhooked: A Mother’s Story of Unhitching from the Roller Coaster of Her Son’s Addiction, in 2016. Her story sheds light on the personal challenges facing the affected parents and family members, and illustrates how family dynamics both help and hinder the recovery process. Annie’s second book, Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache was published in August of 2018. She resides in Columbus, Ohio and enjoys writing, long distance running, hiking, the great outdoors and visiting her son in California as often as possible.



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. This was such a great post because I am sure that people will watch module 7 and have the same thoughts you had, “the modules are helpful but your examples don’t fit real life.”

    First, I would like you to know that I have been in your shoes. My first experience with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) was during my Loved One’s first overdose. It took 4 doses of narcan to revive him and after 4 hours he went downhill from there. He was put on a ventilator. Multiple times, we were told he was not going to make it. By some miracle he did make it. This was the first OD but, not his last. The only reason why I share this is to help others know, I understand the mental anguish, desperation, racing thoughts and physical toll that we experience while dealing with the SUD of a Loved One (LO). Especially, during and forever after an OD. I can certainly see how suggestions like “try and understand your feelings,” and “find the cause of them,” in the moment of a crisis can sound ridiculous. When I first started implementing CRAFT and found our family was once again hurled into the chaos of desperate situations, I remember thinking: How can I wait for my LO to go through a learning process to discover that SUD is destroying him, when there is the real possibility of immediate death? Especially when I know what he needs. TREATMENT!

    One thing I did learn pretty quickly, what I was doing was NOT working. I could try to beg, plead, be logical, spew data and information, shun, blame, guilt, manipulate or love my LO into treatment or help, and it was NOT working.

    I also realized that all my tactics listed above were reactions to my FEELINGS of desperation. My feelings of desperation were brought on by my racing and uncontrolled thoughts! I was stuck in a cycle. Event > Racing and uncontrolled thoughts > Feelings of fear, frustration and hopelessness > Immediate reaction.

    A couple of things to bear in mind, it took me a year into my journey to even find Allies in Recovery. I had no understanding of how module 7 would work and had little faith that it would do anything. But, I did it anyway. There is a saying in Naranon and Alanon, “fake it till you make it,” and that is pretty much what I did with module 7. I started practicing a lot of what it suggested I do. I would also like to include here that I did not want to start to explore my feelings. I did not want to start to take care of myself. I was tired, worn out and to have to start working on myself seemed like a monumental chore. But, my attitude was changing toward my LO with SUD. I wanted my LO to put all his efforts into overcoming his devastating illness but I wasn’t holding myself to the same standard. It really became a ‘you might as well try it because nothing else is working,’ situation.

    I would like to share a situation that happened that illustrates how I used module 7 during a time of crisis: My son had been exhibiting his usual behaviors that he was either already using or headed for a relapse and then disappeared and turned his phone off. I knew it was bad and that I was in for an emotional night. My stomach was in knots and I kept getting waves of anxiousness, and my throat felt like someone had a hold and was squeezing. When these feelings start up, I talk to myself internally. I told myself, “let the feelings come, let them wave over you, I know they suck and you want them to go away but, we are supposed to feel bad feelings when difficult things happen.” I am pretty aware of what my feelings are, fear, hopelessness, frustration and so on. Then I started to assess how to handle the situation. Again, internally I told myself, “Okay, so you can stay up all night with racing thoughts and worry, which will do absolutely nothing but exhaust you or, you can try and calm the thoughts and feelings and be better able to deal with things as they come.” Usually when my head hits the pillow at night is when I cannot control my wandering thoughts or nightmares, so I decided I would sleep on the couch with the TV on to distract my thinking and fall back asleep after repeatedly waking up. At least I would have some rest. I also started using a breathing technique taught to me by a professional so that I could relax my anxious stomach waves. I tried to keep telling myself that in this moment there was nothing I could do, I needed the rest more than anything so I could deal with whatever was to come, and that this too shall pass (another Naranon/Alanon saying).

    I was glad I did what I did because in the morning I was tired but not crazy tired. It also became clear to me on how I wanted to communicate with my LO. Dropping my previous strategies and using CRAFT tools that I learned from Allies in Recovery, I sent him a text and said, “Hey Bud I just want to tell you I love you very much. I know I cannot change what has happened, all I need right now is for you to call and say hi then hang up, so I know you are OK.” Within 10 minutes he was calling and convinced he should come back home to find some help.

    Now I am not saying that my approach and implementation of CRAFT will fit everyone. I am not saying that if someone does the same the result will be the same. The wonderful thing about CRAFT is that it can be individualized and molded to each family’s situation. In retrospect, I can see that when I did use what module 7 teaches, I broke the Event > Thoughts > Feelings > Reaction cycle. I cannot control the event, I may not even be in charge of my initial thoughts and feelings, but taking a moment to let the feelings enter, then talking through a more logical thought process, kept me from reacting in a useless way.

    I also learned that my bad feelings did not completely go away (although it did provide a bit of a respite from my feelings). I was just able to calm them somewhat and take control. I was able to respond to the horrible situation in a more logical and positive way that is more likely to produce a positive outcome.

    The last exercise that accompanies module 7 may also seem to be a little out of place. When families are in the middle of crisis, how does gardening, playing a sport or reading a book help? Well the more we take care of ourselves when we can, the better capable we are of handling problems. I make sure and do something nice for myself every day.

    For me, incorporating module 7 in my life was not easy. In fact, it was really hard. It took me a while and I had to practice, practice, practice. It was a learning process. I wish someone had told me about CRAFT at the start of my journey and I could have started working on it a lot sooner.

    Please know that what I did may not be what works for others. I only share with the hope that others may find something in my story that may help. Maybe it will spark a thought or idea and others can apply CRAFT in way that will work for them. It is not easy and it can take some time but, be persistent and it will pay off. Being armed with the strategies in module 7, as well as the communication skills, when to step away, when to reward, etc., have all made a huge difference in the healing of how my family interacts with one another.

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

  2. When it rains it pours is something I can identify with. One thing that is new to our situation is this time our daughter has met a boy and he is someone well versed in the treatment brokering business. He convinced her to leave treatment and relapse and then she was suppose to get money for going to a new rehab. This complicates matters because we feel this boy is now controlling things. So much so he took her to CA and I believe is shopping for treatment there. She had told us about her plan to go to FLA or CA but we insisted she stay in Texas and she promised she would. We found out through a friend that she had snap chatted she was at the airport and had left Texas. My heart sunk.

    So how does craft deal with this? She has called several times and we have not answered the phone. We are heartbroken and for our own sanity we needed to cut off ties with her. The damage she has done to my family is hard to even put in words. I am not sure that is the craft way to approach this problem but we are hoping she hits some kind of bottom and reaches out for real help.

    She did well on Suboxone and was leading a very productive life for several months. I am hopeful she can do it again but at this point she is not ready.

    Thank you for all your suggestions. I keep looking for resources and support where every I can. Thank you for the work you are doing. Shelley

    1. It is hard to imagine what that boy did. There were hearings on the hill about deceptive practices in the treatment world. I think this one may beat them all.

      CRAFT would suggest you stay in contact, urge treatment, and help with treatment if needed. The contact can be a text telling her you love her. In a second text, perhaps you reminisce about how you felt having your daughter back as a result of suboxone.

      Then try like hell to stop thinking about it for at least a couple breaths, maybe you go back to module 7. Module 7 provides an outline of the main tenets of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). We’ve added this to the original CRAFT model because, big or small, the problems reside, in no small part, in your thoughts…..

      Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response to shelleybobelly here: