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Will He Ever See the Truth?

Man Sitting in Mountains

1delapisa wonders if her Loved One will ever see the truth about his addiction and destructive behaviors. She feels the damage on her own life from his chaotic patterns repeating over and over.


…I love podcast 55. Thanks…

Yesterday there was so much news about fentanyl busts, methamphetamine busts – my sons favorite drug, I felt inclined to share the articles with my son. As usual his response is he doesn’t have a drug problem. He does think fentanyl is what killed his friend in January. I replied that the articles were interesting – maybe help to figure out why some can survive drugs and others just can't. Yes pretty positive he will not read.  Sometimes I just don’t give a damn about not talking/sharing any truths. He went to funeral of friend that OD’d the 1st week of January. In his parents house behind a locked door. Thats the 4th one in his group of friends. One this year, 2 last year, and 1 the year before. Who's next. I know its typical for addicts that are bouncing around from house to house, to leave when they can and leave all their unwanted crap. Son has just done this again. Yet another new start/chance for him – although he doesn't see it that way. He deserves it all in his mind. After breaking bedroom door, furniture, hole in wall,etc after I last kicked him out, nothing has been fixed. Only taking what he wants, left the trash for three families to deal with. The most confusing part are the texts I received in the past days from him angry that no one in his family (myself, his brother or dad) have called or come over to see how nice his place is. Not EVER acknowledging the mess he left each of us. NEVER grateful, thankful. This new beginning has happened for him so many times in the last 4 years.. But never once would he face its his addiction problem. I feel there is permanent damage to his brain. He just does not see the truths.

My brain and life are damaged too. A few calm days then come the bad days. I'm thankful for sending out my thoughts today.

I can feel your combined frustration and exhaustion.  I have been there many times. I found it helpful to put some space on the turmoil. I called it taking "sanctuary moments." Like an adult recess. Whether it meant escaping for a weekend, a quick trip to the salon or spa for a few hours, playing a mediation video on my phone, or a 5 minute barefoot walk through grass (right now it would be snow, that can get me focused elsewhere for a moment too!). These breaks for peace are SO important.

The more often we take peace breaks, the more we are inviting peace to return over and over like a calming wave. It works! Strength comes in those moments.

I felt like I argued with my son in every possible language. He too saw no truths. He denied, blamed, insulted, disappeared, distracted, spewed hate, played dumb, WHATEVER it took to exit the conversation and get the spotlight off the problem – which was that he was addicted and it was out-of-control.

Nothing I said mattered, he had an agenda NOT to hear me, and no interest in resolving issues. The reality was I was dealing with a chemical and my son was buried under the mask of it. I didn't understand the psychological patterns of addiction, that it wasn't personally against me, or that I could respond in ways that redirected it. I had to find a different way to heal the situation. I had to drop my usual weapons and stop trying to get through for a while.  My conversations with him became very intentional. I had to keep them light, loving and short until I felt better, and got better at navigating this very tough terrain.

The selfish, ungrateful and sometimes hostile stuff is mindboggling. It’s also unfortunately a symptom of sickness, and not personal. Even though it feels and affects us very personally. The communication/conflict dynamics can just about make your brain catch on fire.  There is no getting to the bottom of it! It's one of the worst parts of it, everyone gets swept up in one person's tornado.  I lived that for a long time, until I couldn't do it anymore. The addiction and behaviors it led to were killing both of us.

I hated the times of chaos, believe me I lived many. It was so hectic sometimes that I couldn’t stand even having the radio on when I got in my car alone. The chaos between my son, my mother and me was nonstop. Craziness, messes, police situations, HIS bill-collectors, HER pill addiction and manipulation, her wild religious threats and rambling declarations, the aftermath of whatever tornado he was causing. I was surrounded. I felt like I drank poison every time I was dealt with it. Acid stomach, swirling mind, just plain MADNESS.

And then when it got quiet, sadness would set in. And then fear. And then the cycle would begin to build up for the next round. Believe me, you are not alone in what you are going through.

So many who have been in the grip of chemicals begin to believe gravity doesn't apply to them. My son attended funerals of his young friends, and then would return to dangerous behavior that night (if not before). Not seeming to realize (or care?), that he was as much as risk.

None of the above makes sense or is logical behavior! Not to someone in their right mind, which is key to remember, they are currently not. It's almost impossible to figure out a way to get truth through to them. That is where we, as those who love them and are desperate for their wellness and SAFETY, can get obsessed and sick with the situation. We can get pulled into their vortex and once you are swirling in it, it's very difficult to see your way out.

Taking those peace breaks is a great response.  When chaos comes calling, I learned to respond to it with inner peace.

That said, I can’t stress enough how critical it is to work on yourself – learning, growing strong, developing new responses, gathering peace, strength, information, support, going to supportive meetings, watching CRAFT Method modules on here, etc. ALL of it pays off.

Doing these things in the in between times will build you up and give you more power over the situation versus being pulled up into it. Your recovery is an ally for your son, and that is more powerful than many people realize.  The healthier you become, the healthier the situation can become. Your peace will have a calming effect on the environment. It takes time, but peace can be your GPS through the darkest times.

Recovering is like turning a ship around for every person touched by addiction, whether you are the one using, or someone suffering on the sidelines. I also think of recovering like weight loss.  Things didn't go off course over-night, they won't get better overnight.  But they CAN get better, and they will if you do the work in the "mean-time." Which is truly a mean time!  But it's an important time. You are changing the atmosphere and the rhythm of your family when you modify your own patterns and responses, and that is no small thing.

It's a day at a time (sometimes a breath at a time) process.

In my 2nd book “Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache,” I wrote about how someone advised me to "Do the next right thing for the next 15 minutes over and over again." Pretty soon you do that for an hour, then the day…then you find you are getting through it.

Additionally, my own son turned 28 this week. I can’t stop marveling at how far we’ve come.  I have been reflecting so much in the days around this birthday. Thinking back to the hardest of times when he was out in active use. I was just telling a friend that ages 14-26 were HARD years that just about cost me my mind. Between his addiction and my mom’s (which included SO much denial and manipulation, as she is literally the church lady), I didn’t think I would survive my life!   

My son went to treatment six years ago, but had a lot to work out for a few years after. It was an untangling process, like a huge bunch of knotted up Christmas lights that had to be sorted out one at a time. I had a lot to work out within myself, which I didn't realize at first because his behavior shouted the loudest, and was so harmful and pretty much – wrong in my perspective.

The truth was, we were all a mess because of how sick he had become.

There was a time when my son slept in a car in a grocery store parking lot for weeks, in sub-zero temperatures (I wrote about it in my first book, "Unhooked"). I literally lost my mind over him. That summer he slept in a baseball dug out. Life seemed impossible.  And yet here we are, he is thriving and I live a life of peace and joy. Life bears no evidence of those days except that we still talk about them.

We all had work to do.  We had become like one big amoeba moving around in circles of chaos. When I stepped out and started getting better, and managing my relationship with my son differently – it led to greater and greater peace. This I believe, is how it works when the family is recovering.

Let me encourage you – it can turn around, no matter how dark. It just takes time, and effort in the quiet moments. That's where you will gain your strength.

There's a lot of fight in you, otherwise you wouldn't still be in this. Remember, it's a process!  Keep going, the calm days will eventually grow stronger and occur more often than the bad ones. As you get stronger, the situation will gradually improve.

Sorry for the long post, but you seemed like you might need a boost. My goal was to ignite hope in you and remind you that you can do this! You are not alone in it! You are among friends here.

Wishing you much peace and strength tonight,


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. 1delapisa,

    You are not alone. Don’t give up hope. Your LO can change and so can you. You want your son to acknowledge the destruction his addiction has caused. I’ve lived that too. But he can’t do that. Not where he is at now. You are doing the right thing by bringing your need to be heard about the hurt he has caused to this site where those of us who have been through this too can reassure you that you are not crazy. Loving an addict is scary, infuriating, exhausting, etc. I hope you will continue to seek support for yourself. It’s the only way I’ve made it this far.

    I agree with so much of what 228 wrote. (Thanks 228 for another amazing post!). Especially the part about putting yourself in harms way by staying close to your LO. It’s more than the unsavory characters. It’s the emotional vulnerability. It was frankly easier to be mad at my LO for his behavior than to understand the degree of anxiety and self loathing he felt that made that escape into drugs so appealing.

    As I came to understand the hell he lived in, it broke my heart. And my vulnerability to the pain of potentially losing him would be even greater now that I understood. Easier to remain at a distance and save myself from devastation. There were many dark nights I looked into that emotional abyss and didn’t know if I could survive this. Especially after losing five young people in my circle last year and seeing what their parents continue to go through. I don’t know why my LO has so far survived and now is thriving, living a life we couldn’t have dreamed of when he was using. I don’t take anything for granted and I thank God every day for this.

    I do think it that my willingness to stay connected and vulnerable with my LO made a difference. CRAFT helped me change my attitude toward my LO from anger to compassion.

    I also learned to have compassion for myself. I deserve a life that isn’t consumed by anxiety and worry and dread. I have the ability to give myself moments of peace. I can be grateful for my one wild and precious life. I don’t have to wait until my LO is better. I’m not saying this is easy, but I’m actually glad I am on this journey

    1. How did everyone know i needed each and every word I’ve read today from my Allies! I enabled myself to be so let down these past few days by my lo. Have to always go back to basics Ive learned and also need to learn. He tries to stay in the moment. It doesnt last and hes back with his drug of choice. All the same behaviors come back. Sleeping. Secretive – he thinks…Even heard him snorting whatever while im on the phone with him! I have to stay strong and stay more active on this site. Just started a new 2nd job, I’ve been pretty busy. My son and I are pretty good as long as I dont bring up any issues. I will pray, read, love, and keep trying to stay in a happier place. No expectations!! Oh, and PATIENCE. Thanks again….

  2. 1delapisa

    I will suggest something else to focus on for now that is at the heart of the matter in my case.

    Talking to an oblivious addict about the trail of destruction and cloud of disregard is like casting pearls of wisdom before swine; its a waste of breath until the loved one gets to see it themselves and deal with the ambivalence. I think part of the CRAFT teaching is that coming down hard on one side of the PROS and CONS of ambivalence is likely to drive the LO with SUD to only see the positive of addiction even clearer since the pain of loved ones nagging and complaining only increases the pain of their loss of all self esteem.

    Its counterintuitive not jump on the case of a LO with a SUD. I had to get to the point where I told our LO that I thanked G-d that substance use was chosen in order to make life bearable to live. I simply had to put a priority on my LOs life.

    I did. That has been the most loving choice of my life. I pray I can continue yet I am humble to know that while I am blessed now it isn’t something to take as granted permanently.

    That was a key step in me getting comfortable with the AMBIVALENCE part of my LO’s SUD. From there I didn’t jump into their SCALES OF JUDGEMENT that their ambivalence represents; at least from the negative side. I think “reverse psychology” is based on this CRAFT concept of understanding that ambivalence is the first step of the recovery process.

    The destruction and loss associated with addiction extends to the family members that stick around to seek ways to help the loved one. Loss of peace, property, time, resources is part of the process. I had to deal with the ambivalence in my own psyche first. I love my LO and yet I worked hard for all my resources and seeing them seemingly squandered by an addict can be discouraging unless I am diligent in my soul searching and ultimate resolve. I am grateful for the maturity that going through this has brought to ME.

    First. I have to accept that I am putting myself in harm’s way.

    There’s not another way around this by choosing certain options. Having the addicted loved one near me brings all sorts of unsavory characters(dealers, thieves, G-d knows), close to home. Not having the loved one at home has its own hazards as I am not close enough to be aware nor of immediate help to the loved one.

    There are many difficult choices in this process.

    One of them is to choose to feel sorry for myself.

    One of them is to consider that this isn’t my problem and so I can both love this person and watch them passively while they self destruct.

    One of them is to accept that while I want to help I may not always know how to help. I can choose to learn. I can choose the hard road ahead that puts myself in jeopardy.

    There’s really no other way to say this and yet I feel like I need to because this account isn’t being represented in a straightforward way.

    The biggest difficulty, if I choose to help and keep this loved one close, is the fear associated with bringing uncertainty, vulnerability, and exposure to various hazards associated with the “underground” of the drug culture, close to home. This fear should energize me to limit the exposure in ways that don’t distance myself from being able to help. The “how” and “what” of that is not clear all the time. This is difficult. I know I have learned to rely on morale of the people that know all I am involved in. I need a support group with morale and checking up on mine.

    I also need the resources to keep going and be willing to invest them and realize the risks to all my resources including health(stress is enormous), reputation(my loved one is leaving a trail of destruction and people that know me are aware of it or perhaps suffering it), and financial.

    I also had a “line in the sand” moment with all my loved ones. I was honest with them and we discussed that this process might get very dangerous and is uncertain. Certain family members were more vulnerable than others and one, me in my case, was more prepared and resourceful to take on the task at the frontline. Others, could be at a distance that is right for them.

    I know people that simply haven’t had what it takes and could only shut doors. I don’t judge, yet everyone has to judge for themselves.

    Every moment is different. There have been times when it simply was too much for me. I could DISTANCE and THEN CIRCLE BACK and bring the loved one CLOSER once I had the wisdom, understanding or other RESOURCES to be OF HELP.

    Remember one key concept of CRAFT is to choose the less intrusive option.

    At first I wanted my LO to go for a year to an in-house rehab. EXTREMELY INTRUSIVE AND DISRUPTIVE TREATMENT ISN’T A CRAFT CONCEPT. My LO chose an outpatient once-a-week option when I finally left the choice up to my LO and G-d(the greatest moment of my life when I choose to think that G-d might have a higher concept of all my LO might benefit from according to my LO’s needs and the resources of a HIGHER POWER with higher thoughts and ways than mine). Humility has been key and continues to be for me.

    Also, when/where I am too nervous or afraid then perhaps I don’t have the resources(spiritual, mental, material) to be helpful. If I can process the fear in order to energize understanding and support necessary to be an ally in recovery(being and doing everything in the modules), then I do/be it. Otherwise I have to be humble enough to admit I am not capable at the moment and perhaps someone else is or an institution or facility or leave it to society and the police. I am quicker to think things are “OVER MY HEAD” and that G-d’s ways and thoughts are beyond mine and to imagine that my LO(once they are on the recovery track) has unique needs I will never be able to know.

    I thank G-d that I’ve been able to be involved. It is up to G-d. If I am blessed to be here for the LO then I will be. Things change and I hope for the better and I am blessed that it has. There are ups and downs. Its a process that I am taught to be mature through and accept when the worst things happen and also be circumspect when the best things happen.

    Processing and letting go of fear has been possible for me yet because I’ve been blessed with the resources. I am thinking that this isn’t the case with some people or else they haven’t been told that they have to face the long term patience piece of this process. I hope this helps.

  3. 1delapisa – I am so very sorry to hear that you are going through this. It is absolute heart break to watch our loved ones struggle, especially when they don’t see it themselves and want us to “butt out.”
    I know we often go through years of that heart break but we can’t seem to let go as we see our LO in need of our rescue and resource. Learning CRAFT here on AIR has made a huge difference for me. I force myself back into self care, and push away when my daughter is using (drinking.) I watch for a wish or a dip and encourage her to reach out for help from professionals and others in recovery. I had always been the life guard, but no longer. She needs to save herself.
    Give yourself time to absorb the lessons on AIR. You will grow through this and find the best place to position yourself which is outside of the vortex.
    It is so hard to accept that our LO is not addressing their self abuse but over time, they will see the truth and that’s when you will be able to guide them from your position of love.