Tips for Moms, Dads, Partners, Relatives and any other entourage with a Loved One in active use

“Until we heal the family system, there is no hope for the person struggling.” ~Ken Seeley

I am the daughter of someone who suffers with addiction.  My Mother is a Bible believing, non-swearing, French speaking, dignified lady who has struggled with Doctor prescribed opioids and mental health issues for 30+ years.

I have also been through an addiction adjacent experience as a Mother; my son is now six years in recovery from a prescription opiate dependency following an injury in football.

I know the ups and downs, the misery in the midnight hour, the high hopes and hopes dashed that one goes through when they love someone caught in the death grip of a substance dependency.

That’s why I now openly share our story, our pain and our process of recovery.

In the midst (as well as the aftermath), of some of the worst days of our life as a family, I gathered great strength and wisdom along the journey from those who carried me through to my own recovery from the effects of it.

I write not as one in recovery from a substance, but as one in recovery from the obsession with someone battling a substance.

The goal of my heart as I continue my path to wellness is to share my experience, strength and hope with others who are walking it.  I believe that to be crucial; to quote Ram Dass, “We are all just walking each other home.”


If you are facing this road yourself, I believe it is critical to come to know the following:

You are not alone.

You are responsible for your own life, health, success and peace of mind; you just have to take the reins.   The same goes for your struggling loved one.  As hard as it is, don’t hitch your peace of mind and well being onto the roller coaster.  Detach from it to work on your wellness.   Learning that is the process of recovery.   The healthier you get, the better chance they will have of getting healthy.

And last, as long as there’s breath ~ there’s HOPE!


The 3 C’s of Nar Anon:

You didn’t Cause it, you can’t Control it, you can’t Cure it

Cause: At this point blaming who, what, where, why and how the addiction started is futile.  That only adds to the misery and distracts from handling it in functional, healthy ways.  This pertains to past, present, as well as potential substance abuse.  Don’t live in fear that by saying/doing the wrong thing you will send them spiraling back into the cycle.  You are not the cause of that.  Someone who wants to remain clean will do so regardless of stress or pressure.  There will always be stress and pressure!  The key is learning to cope without abusing a substance.  And that strength is up to them to develop. Emotionally tiptoeing around someone won’t prevent substance abuse any more than bulldozing and bullying will.   Working a program is the way forward.  You take care of you.  Your priority is to make sure you are healthy and functional.

Control: Policing and making sure they are going to meetings, spending time with sober companions, doing what they are supposed to should only be something paid attention to for your own safety and boundaries.  Taking control of their life, recovery or participating in the craziness as it occurs is not healthy for anyone.

Cure: Nothing you can do, say, think, or feel will heal or cure it.  You can affect their decisions with healthy boundaries and responses, by not enabling use and mistreatment, or participating in negative, dysfunctional behavior and conflict.  Your best response is to take care of yourself. Beyond that, it is up to them to want it, and to work a program and to recover and get well.


Hopeful 3 C’s

Deep into it with my Loved One, I was taught that while I was powerless over the disease and didn’t Cause it, couldn’t Control or Cure it, I am not without options. I can Cope, I can Contribute (in good and bad ways) and I can Create loving, healthy dialogue.

 My own version of hopeful 3 C’s.

Coped in prayer, meditation, support groups, therapy and several types of stress relieving practices.

Contributed by not participating in negative behavior or conflict.

And finally… 

Created healthy dialogue by keeping the bridge of communication open. I reached out as often as I felt comfortable to remind my Loved One that he/she was loved and I was in their corner, rooting for them to join the fight for their life.

I kept a list of available detox and treatment centers on hand for times of clarity.  Those moments are quick, subtle and pass without notice sometimes (when they  say things like “You think I want to live like this?” Or make statements related to remembering or wishing they had a better life).  In those moments giving those names and numbers is a soft, effective intervention (See: Allies in Recovery teachings on CRAFT method).

Handling it that way gave me hopeful action to take – without trying to control or go crazy forcing anything, while in the midst of it caring for myself, keeping a safe support system on hand for those moments of crisis or meltdown and always praying, hoping and believing for the best outcome.


The above is what helped navigate me through, and helped shepherd my Loved One toward treatment.

There is no one-size-fits-all, you have to find what works for you.  Do the work, you’re worth it.

Research, reach out, don’t go through it alone.

Still learning, always hopeful,


Author of Unhooked

Author of books: Unhooked, and Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache

Host of:  The Unhooked Podcast

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For information, comfort, encouragement and support:

Codependents Anonymous

Parent Support – TAPU

Family Recovery Support