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Welcome to my blog. I hope we can help each other endure the pain of the addiction of a daughter or son.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What if the addict never gets better?

Is there anyone out there who can share what you do to cope if your loved ones situation does not get better?  Is there anyone who has learned to build a decent life for themselves in spite of the suffering caused by long term severe addiction and mental illness?

A long time ago, I spoke to a woman at a mental institution that had rejected my daughter because she was an addict. This woman was not the one who rejected her and she shared information with me that could have caused her to loose her job. After about 20 minutes she shared that her son was an alcoholic and had been for 20 years. He was in just about as bad a shape as my daughter.

This woman told me to toughen up. She said that most of the 5 star addicts do not get better and that I would go grey still obsessed with finding a solution to a problem with no solution. She told me to go on with my life and I now believe her but I still need to know just how people do it.

I know that there are millions out there doing it. I also know that even if your loved one has recovered, if they were in desparate straights for a long time you somehow learned how to enjoy some other part of your life or you would not be here now.

One thing that does help me is making a list every day of about 5 things to accomplish. I force myself to get started crossing things off the list and as simple as that seems it helps me tremendously. Hours go by that I do not think about the addiction.

Please share your coping strategies.


  1. I don't know if this is relative or not but here is an example of how I handle a situation in my family.

    I have a cousin that is my age and we were very close. He wasn't an addict but suffers from mental illness, came on in his 30's. He is a very smart person. He actually qualified to be on Jeopardy twice but his illness and social anxiety wouldn't allow him to go. You have to just accept whatever is given.

    Treat them with respect and love. Recognize that it is likely the disease has "won". Acceptance is the way you live. You aren't responsible, you aren't accountable. They know all the things they must do, it isn't our job to remind, nag or conjole. Good days are good, bad days are bad. On good days spend the time YOU need. On bad days do not feel bad when you leave them to their own life.

    These are just my thoughts. I have no experience with an addict that never gets better but this is how I deal with another with mental illness. Maybe it is applicable, maybe not.

  2. I still do Alanon at least once a week, probably always will. It helps me in areas of life that have nothing to do with addiction.

    A sponsor got me into this habit: I bought a cute little journal with a magnetic flap on Amazon; every morning I write a five item gratitude list. A side note of this is now I have a journal of events with dates. I can tell by my list what was going on in my life.

    The usual: time with a friend/friends at least once a week. Work. Exercise (getting out of the house for a 30 min walk counts). Taking a class (bread making? LOL)

    The main thing that helps me even today is doing for someone else. Good deeds, volunteer, church, humane society...there are hundreds of causes that need your time. You are a teacher and speak at least 2 languages. Maybe look into tutoring adults. They are so appreciative.

    *Look out for the addict to be surprised when you are no longer available for their "errands"

  3. I keep hoping, but in the meantime...
    I am fortunate to still have a young child at home and life goes on. School projects...we are currently working on her science fair project, a report on old folk remedies, and her Odyssey of the Mind skit. She is in charge of the props. :o/

    On top of that, I make an effort to do all the things Lou listed, and I make an effort to do things that feel like "normal" life to me. Go to the library, hiking, walking, taking the dogs out, baking, (which I probably should do less of lol.) I have several sponsees that I am incredibly grateful for because they get my eyes off of myself. Lu and I are going to begin volunteering at our town's homeless resource center the middle of this month and I feel like I am doing this with my girl in mind. She is not now, nor ever has been homeless....she has couch surfed, but when I look at those people at that center, I think they have a mama somewhere who was filled with wonder at the miracle she had just participated in when she gave birth to them. For today I feel the need to touch their lives in whatever small way I can. Lu is along for the ride.

    You have so much to offer Anna. I wish I could nab you to help Molly get through college! lol

  4. Thank you Ron, Annette and Lou,

    It strikes me that what you have written is the same advice that I give Beth. Keep busy, keep a schedule, be grateful, exercise, do good in the world and concentrate on the people that love and need you.

    I am grateful that we have come to know each other through this wonder of technology that did not exist just a few years ago. Thank you for caring enough to answer this very hard question and thank you for the good you all do in the world.

  5. This was very meaningful to read - both the post and the comments. I am grateful too, its one of the best uses of technology I can think of.

    Your question is such a hard one to answer, but I'm glad those three had some good words. I'm trying to figure it out myself.

    You truly are an amazing woman with a lot to offer.