Dear Mom: Don’t Lose Hope

by Lorelie Rozzano
August 19, 2019

Dear Mom,

I know you’re tired. There are no words for your pain, only tears. Your child’s addiction is tearing you apart. You’ve tried to do everything right. You’ve kissed their face a thousand times. You’ve watched them sleep and held their hand when they learned to walk. You’ve taught them to look both ways before crossing the street. You’ve made sure they wore their helmet and buckled their seat belt. You’ve been their No. 1 cheerleader, and no one in the world will ever love your child as you do. Once upon a time, you could fix it all, and now, you can’t.

You’re lonely and so, so sad. Only you don’t tell people this. You don’t want your friends feeling sorry for you or judging your child. So you suck it up, put on your brave face, and carry on.

You wonder where you went wrong. You search your mind for any telltale signs that you might have missed. Looking back, you try to make sense of how you got here. Maybe addiction is in your DNA? Maybe Grandpa passed it on? He liked to drink. Or was it your husband? The one who seldom drank but, when he did, always went way overboard. Or maybe it was the neighbor’s kid, the one who introduced your child to smoking marijuana?

You did your best to protect them. You kept them safe. You clothed and fed them. You kissed their scraped knees and checked under their bed for monsters, but you never imagined the monster lived within your child.

This monster lies in your child’s voice, moves your child’s body, and has taken over your child’s mind. You call this monster addiction.

Your child isn’t the only one with a monster. You’ve changed, too. You’re exhausted and drag yourself through the days, longing for bedtime, when you can seek release through sleep. Your mask is slipping. You’re mad at everyone. While friends and family move on with their lives, you’re stuck.

You’ve tried everything you can think of to help your child. You’ve lied for them and paid their debts. You’ve been their personal ATM, housekeeper, counselor, and police officer. But nothing you do works, and, worse still, your child doesn’t appreciate your efforts.

Dear Mom, hold on.

Stop beating yourself up. You didn’t cause this disease, but there is much you need to learn. First and foremost, please reach out for help. Do not allow your child’s addiction to destroy you. Instead, learn how to love your child without enabling their illness. You will need safe people in your life who have walked in your shoes and can provide you with emotional support. Feelings that remain hidden become a toxic wasteland of resentments and self-pity. You won’t help your child by becoming sick, too.

Dear Mom, your child’s addiction isn’t about you.

Addiction has nothing to do with the love between a mother and her child. Substance use disorder is a brain disease that leads to changes in the structure and functioning of the cerebral cortex. The first use of alcohol and drugs is voluntary. However, over time, the changes in the brain caused by repeated use impairs a person’s impulse control and their ability to make sound decisions.

Dear Mom, one of the hardest things you will ever do is let go.

Not of your child, but of their illness. Let go of how you thought things should be and accept what is. Let go of the urge to fix, control, and rescue them. Let go of overfunctioning on their behalf—allowing your child to feel the consequences of their actions will encourage them to seek help.

Dear Mom, it’s natural to feel a little broken.

Be kind to yourself. Erase the old, negative tapes and insert new, positive ones. No matter how many times you hear “it’s not your fault,” your mother’s heart will not believe it. Guilt is normal; try to believe anyway.

Dear Mom, addiction is a family illness.

You can’t cure your child, and you can’t control them, but you can influence the outcome. Someone has to make the hard choices. Be open to learning and doing new things. Don’t wait for your sick child to ask for help. Lead the way. Involve professionals. They will help you navigate the pathway from addiction to recovery.

Dear Mom, don’t lose hope.

Across North America, 23 million families are living in recovery and leading beautiful, productive lives. Although it may seem like the heartache will never end, it can and does for many!

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Lorelie Rozzano

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  1. Thank you for being here, for being a resource for Moms. I remember all these feelings when my oldest son was actively using. We Moms are collateral damage. Keep up the good work. I share my story as often as I can, so others will know they aren’t alone.

    • Thank you, I sadly think I will be an active member here, but I need something. Thank you

  2. Thank-you.

  3. I read the aug 19 article and felt immediate connection! The agony of active addiction is very destructive for moms, and all family members! Thank you for this reading!

  4. Dear Mom don’t lose hope. Beautiful, and very true. It’s a struggle everyday. Your post help immensely. Thank You.

  5. Just found you, so lucky to have will follow you my life is in those words !! My son is an addict and continues to be one.It breaks my heart but I pray every day that his life changes. Marsha B.

  6. The disease of addiction crept up on us slowly. He hid it until he couldn’t and by that time there’s was nothing I could do to stop or save him. I realize that now and wish I knew that then what would I change? I would tell him how much I love him and how sorry I am for his suffering. I would sit and hold him while I still could. He is now longer suffering but we are. Love them regardless.

  7. I do need help. I lost one son already to this demon. His brother isnt far behind. Im losing my mind.

  8. Thank you so much for writing this. I lost my son who was just 28 to a heroin overdose last November. This blessed my heart.

  9. So hard to know what to do or say to them with out upsetting them ? Nothing is harder than trying to fix it when it’s not up to you to fix it. It’s up to them.

  10. I came across this post when I needed it most. I saw my precious baby boy in shackles and an orange jumpsuit yesterday. My son was arrested for the 5th time. Instead of running to his aid, we gave an ultimatum…get help or you can no longer be part of our lives. And, you will serve jail time. Thankfully, our D.A. Is giving him an opportunity to get help in an 18 month program. I’m praying so hard that he accepts this opportunity. I’m trying to get past the feelings of guilt and asking myself “what did I do wrong”. Please pray for my son.

    • Julie, I feel your heart ache. I’m not bailing him out this time. Letting go is hard. Heartbreaking. I wish the DA would offer my son a treatment program, because jail isn’t the answer for his addiction. In our state…there is no place for my son to get treatment or help without medical insurance (and they only pay a small amount for a short amount of time) , or you have to have a lot of money and pay out of pocket. I don’t know where my son will find long term inpatient help, it doesn’t seem to be out there. Praying for our sons.

  11. Hang in there Mama’s and get some help for you. Too was changed forever when I found my Sun had inherited the DidEase of addiction. Once a child with a brilliant future in front of him. Ace’d high school and college, then fell down the rabbit hole. As the years went on he was able to excel at the (many) jobs he secured but never seemed either happy or settled. After initially learning of his addiction I decided that I was suffering and needed help. Found a counselor and Naranon, both picked me up and ( not unlike recovering addicts) and helped me learn how to pull myself out of that hole. Seven years later I am still with that fellowship. Being with those who are walking that same road was So helpful to my recovery . Through my recovery my Sun learned that he could come to me when he was ready to take back his life. He too has a fellowship, 3 years of clean time, re-entry to college (Grad school) , a wonderful job helping others who have walked his road. See, “we are all of the same cloth, though of a different cut.”

    • Well said! Thank you for sharing and congratulations to all!

  12. First time reading !! My 21 year old son is a drug addict! So me being the mom helped open my eyes some … reading this ! Thank you

    • Hi Jessica,
      I’m glad the article helped. Learn all you can about addiction and support groups are tremendously beneficial!
      Much love.

  13. Thank you for sharing your story! ❤️

    • My pleasure, there’s no shame in getting well.

  14. Just read all the comments and felt compelled to write my own! My son just celebrated his 41st birthday in minimum security prison. He has been in for non compliance (dirty UA) during probation. I was so filled with hope this time around (this started when he was 15 yrs old), he seemed dedicated to turning his life around when he got out, which would have been in two months! I got a call from him last night to tell me he has been moved to the main prison, not minimum security, because of a dirty UA test. My heart is broken again! I enjoyed the article and it’s helpful to be reminded that, as parents, we are not alone in this heartbreaking world of addiction!

    • Hi Dee,
      Heartbreak is a lonely, painful feeling. Please reach out for support and take good care of you. We are strongest together!
      Your friend, Lorelie.

  15. Wow I needed this. My son has been an alcoholic for years. He is 28. This weekend my daughter asked for help because she was afraid because she tried cocaine that she was going to be addicted.
    Mind you we lost a very special
    Person two days ago who overdosed so I believe she got scared as well. I asked her why she tried it and if she was still doing it and she said no that she did it because her brother did. I am in complete utter shock. My son was anti drugs and has lost a ton of friends to drug addiction and now he has taken that path. I don’t know what to do! I fear letting go will lead to the worst but At the same time it’s killing me. Please help

  16. Hi everyone! I am finally letting go of how I thought it should be. My daughter is 49, homeless , etc. I tried everything humanly possible. I was so so sad for so long. So true about the guilt shame and family not wanting to hear about it. Only those who have been on this path understand. I am deeply grateful for mompower and all of u. ❤️?Jan

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