☼ I Can’t Control My Son’s Addiction Recovery; Let Recovery Begin With Me

Sandy Swenson

Sandy Swenson

“I don’t know when I last woke up happy. I don’t know when the great hollow vacancy began to take up so much space in my emptiness. I don’t know, because I’ve been busy putting one foot in front of the other. But this morning the simple motion of lifting my head off the pillow is too much. Just. Too. Much. All because a rogue ray of sunshine slips through the window blinds and does the cha-cha on my face, taunting me, teasing me, with all its shiny brightness and the promise of a better day. The liar.

“A little ray of sunshine. And suddenly life is impossible. Suddenly my whole family is washing down the drain unless I put the stopper back where it belongs. Because that stopper is the only thing between my grip on Joe’s and Rick’s ankles and our slide down a deep, dark hole.

“If not for Rick’s still-occasional need for me to play a maternal role in his life, I might not be able to do it. But he deserves more from me than I’ve been giving, and so does Joe. Joey’s addiction must not be allowed to chip away at Rick’s last year at home or erode twenty-three years of marriage. Joey’s addiction must not be allowed to destroy our whole family. The poison seeping into our household passes directly through me—sneaking in, I think, on the umbilical connection. Joey may be the one consuming the poison, but the poison is consuming me.

“The spread of this disease must stop.

“Right now.

“With me.

“I will get out of bed. And tomorrow I won’t get back into bed after Rick leaves for school. I will get myself dressed and brush my teeth. I can do this. I can go back to pretending that everything is normal. Even as my child busily gnaws off his own foot. I will put on the dressing of normal life in the same way I shove myself into my jeans—take a deep breath, swallow the pain, and paste on a smile. I’ll smile when I put dinner on the table. I’ll even tuck a smile in my voice when I pass Joey’s new address on to the next debt collector that calls.

“I will re-emerge from the house, step back into the world I’ve been unable to face. A world where people do not, cannot, understand drunken car accidents or intravenous speedballs. A world snug and comfy in the illusion of sweet dreams and happy endings and the power of a mother’s love. A world that believes, because it must, that children do not self-destruct randomly and therefore this mother’s love must be tremendously flawed.

“But, on this, the world would be very wrong.”

 The hardest thing I’ve ever done is to acknowledge that I can’t control my son’s addiction recovery; maybe the most important thing I’ve ever done is to let recovery begin with me.

No more shame, no more silence.

Excerpt from ‘The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction’ by Sandra Swenson. Now available in bookstores and libraries.

See Also: Dear Joey: A Love Letter To My Son The Addict

15 thoughts on “☼ I Can’t Control My Son’s Addiction Recovery; Let Recovery Begin With Me

  1. Pingback: ☼ I Can’t Control My Son’s Addiction Recovery; Let Recovery Begin With Me - Live Clean And Sober

  2. Curtis Cox

    Hi! After I read these stories, I suggest to go to Xxxxxx for taking good care of your son’s life. It was so hard to see your Joey’s suffering from this kind of addiction. No one should walk alone in this bumpy road my dear. It starts with love, hope and acceptance will lead you for strong way of life.

  3. Pat Gray

    There are resources available and groups to help us fight the stigma and the ‘aloneness” This is awesome sharing and reflecting and there is TAM and Shatterproof. In our area there are grief support groups; alanon and “Walk for Wellness” for those fighting against heroine. My personal faith and the parent group from Crossroads (enthusiastic sobriety) keeps me going.

    1. Linda

      I agree with so many other moms out there. Our family has been on an emotional roller coaster since 2008. Our son, has been an addict and we hope he’s trying to overcome this terrible, awful evil. We live in a small town, he has been to prison for 3 times, first for theft, due to being an addict. Then the other 2 times, were due to failure to pay parole fees and to see his parole officer. It just seems like, he can’t get out of this deep dark hole. He won’t admit that he needs help and never has. We are just lost, don’t know what to do or say to help him. We just let him know we love him and try to encourage him and pray for him.

  4. Elizabeth Seavey

    No One should walk alone in this Journey, for too long we turned a blind eye in denial or disbelief! Fear and horror turns to strength & Power as all things come to light through Community Awareness & Support, Realize this affects everyone, love & encouragement abound when leaders take bold steps to uplift & support our most vulnerable survivors, each has a story to share & a life to be lived, rise up to prevent the loss of lives, it’s never too late to take action.
    With Love & acceptance, I am here for you, the door is open & the light is on. My Journey is one of Acceptance & uplifting of lives, In Solidarity!

  5. Scott

    If you want a solution and a method to actually change wherever you are there are alanon meetings several nights a week and you will be welcomed there. The answer is not hearing positive thoughts that make that make you feel good for a moment or a week or a month it is in realizing that their illness (version of insanity) has now contributed to your version of sanity and the cure will not be found in self help anything. In Alanon people work the same twelve steps that Addicts and alcoholics work. We at some point have to realize that it doesn’t matter anymore how we got sick it just matters where we chose to go from here. If you really want to change seek out Alanon

  6. edie

    I would be happy to get involved in setting up a support group. I too have two young adult sons and one is battling heroin addiction. He recently relapsed after staying clean for 4 plus months, the longest clean time in his 6 plus years of this horrible disease. He seemed so much happier, that he was finally tired of the chase, but off again he goes, disappears again, at least this time he resurfaced within a few weeks rather than months of me not knowing where he was or if I would get a dreaded phone call. I am trying to work on myself, realizing the desire has to be his own and not mine and I have no control of his choices. It is a sad and lonely place being a mom with an addicted child when all I want to do is make it all go away for my son. I am a single mom also searching for support from others that are going through the same situation. It is nice to find this site.

  7. Helene

    Hey there, I too have an adult child with an addiction. Her addiction is to opiates. She’s 31 and Mother of 3 children. Not a day goes by that I’m not consumed with worry for her and my 3 Grandchildren. This disease is awful, it can destroy a family, a marriage, if allowed. I’ve been looking for an online support group. It’s hard feeling so alone, most people just don’t understand that addiction is an illness.

  8. beverly martinez

    My daughter is an addict that also suffers from depressive disorders, as so many do. She recently relapsed, and I don’t know what to do. She does really well, gets clean and sober, her meds work then bam, down she goes.

    Glad to know there are others out there that know what it feels like.

  9. barb

    i feel this way every day. i already lost one son, now i watch as my remaining son self destructs before my eyes. My older son overdosed on drugs and I’m overdosing on pain.; I am nothing more than a mechanical robot. I am numb and I wonder how I will live the rest of my days on this earth. Addiction sucks!

    1. Nadia

      I am so sorry for you. Today I made the hardest decision in my life. I will not allow my son to come home from the hospital. He will need to go to rehab, or homeless shelter. I am noy sure what he will chose but I have to stay out of it. I am in pain, but need to go yhrough it…

  10. Maureen Wagner

    This sounds just like me….and I can’t believe how prevalent addiction is with kids today. There is no family, neighborhood or socio-economic class immune. It just breaks my heart.

    1. liz

      Hi you are both inspiring parents. I’m setting up a support group for parents who have had no support and are alone without their children,it could be metaphoric or literal. Its early development but we hope to ge it set up as an org eventually ,we just need parents like yourselves to help get involved and develop it into something that you’d all find useful. . I feel for u , can see how hard it.has been and how much you love your children. If there’s anything we can all help each other do please let me know . ” Together in strength we will walk for our pathways have entwined, for thru adversity thare are triumphs, just remember you’re not on your own” ( Liz) here to support in any way, love to u both and others too now and always xx


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