Word Games

Posted on August 23, 2010. Filed under: Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , |

It was just a few months ago that the term, “Getting Well” took on a whole new meaning for me.  My 31 yo heroin addict daughter, Hayley, was living in a crack house, ‘shooting up’ and smoking crack.  Her lifestyle circumstances were desperate – and sordid – and frightening.  I happened to speak to her on the phone one day, and she said she was ‘dope sick’ and needed to “get well”.  In other words, she needed to find some heroin.  What a euphemism. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines euphemism as:  “the use of a word or phrase that is less expressive or direct but considered less distasteful, less offensive, etc. than another.”  What an understatement.

Today, my daughter is “getting well”, in the more conventional context.  She has just completed a 90-day drug treatment program and last Friday, moved in to a sober living house.   This is, of course, the next logical step in her recovery – but, nevertheless, it scares me.  The nurturing,  safe, ‘scheduled’ environment of the treatment center has been replaced by a house of 7 recovering addicts, all trying to stay sober and move forward with their lives. 

Basically, each of them is on their own, with no schedule or formal program.  They are monitored, somewhat, with random urine tests.  And, I think there are general house rules and expectations.  Ideally, they are all working their program and supporting each other.  However, it’s a bit of a dice throw.  Hayley needs to find a job, attend AA/NA meetings, work on getting her driver’s license restored, tend to some legal issues resulting from probation violation, deal with the thousands of dollars of debt she owes, figure out a way to get thousands of dollars of dental work done, monitor a chronic health issue, and on, and on, and on.  Post treatment is when the real work of recovery begins – and the steady, meticulous effort to build a new life is daunting.  I’m overwhelmed with all she faces – and am wondering how she’ll ever get a decent life back.

Hayley sounds strong and still very committed to the 12-step program.  Yet – – – I worry about her ability to handle all that she faces.  Today, I had to remind her to send a letter to her court-assigned attorney regarding her upcoming court date on Friday for probation violation.  Should I have to do that?  Shouldn’t staying out of jail be at the top of her priority list?  How long will I have to ‘baby-sit’ her? What is appropriate at this point?  Hayley needs to not only work at staying sober, but also  learn and practice independent living skills.   She does need help, in my opinion, but it’s a delicate balance. 

My worst fear, of course, is that Hayley will soon be overwhelmed with the details and demands of life – – – and then, . . .relapse. The professionals say that ‘relapse’ is a part of recovery.  I know.  However, when you’re a heroin addict, ‘relapse’ seems to have such dire consequences.  And, there I go – jumping ahead and worrying about what hasn’t even happened yet.

I am so grateful for Hayley’s sobriety and hard work. I am trying to live “one-day-at-a-time”, as is she.  But it’s very hard.  And so – – – I think I need to take myself to an Al-Anon meeting and try to ‘get well’, myself.


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27 Responses to “Word Games”

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Thank God that she continues to stay on the path of recovery. Keeping you both in my prayers.

I don’t even know what to say to reassure you or give you advice in dealing with this. I’m being buried alive bly my daughter’s relapse and can’t seem to stop the slide or dig myself out…
But I will pray for you and Haley and hope that you both stay strong and on the path to recovery.

I have been thinking about you and your daughter and I hope everything is okay. I wish you peace.

I’ve been remiss in tending to my blog – and am feeling it. Thanks for checking in, Sarah. Hope to get back to my blogging soon. Stay tuned. Peggy

I wish we could go to a meeting together! I am right there with you. Cngratulations to Hayley and her 90 day sobriety! Hang in there Mom!! I’m off to Al-Anon too btw.

Hi Peggy – I’m happy Hayley is doing so well and hope you have more peace now! You both are still in my thoughts and prayers!

Dear Peggy,
Reading your most recent update makes me swell with hope. The Jewish High Holy Days are coming up soon. I will say a special prayer for Hayley to stay strong, focused, and committed to “get well.”

Thanks, Letty. There’s still a long road ahead. I am valiantly trying to stay focused on today.

I’m so glad to hear that she is doing so well! Wow! This is awesome! I can’t imagine how you feel as I was the addict, but I do know that although you should let her own her recover, your encouragement is priceless. My mother would tell me she was proud of me and it really gave me a boost of confidence. Keeping you both in my prayers. God bless you.

“My worst fear, of course, is that Hayley will soon be overwhelmed with the details and demands of life – – – and then, . . .relapse. The professionals say that ‘relapse’ is a part of recovery. I know.”

Relapse is a choice, not a part of the cycle of recovery, especially for those who have information available about recovery. A relapse happens well before the drink/drug is picked up, it is the last event in a series of events that have signs. The first and biggest warning sign of a pending relapse is when the addict stops going to meetings/stops doing what they have done to begin with. That lost connection, even though the addict may not feel like they are connected, with other people with the same dilemna is the first step back to using.

I know that both of you have a lot going on. We all do, everything is based in perception.

Take Care.

It is awesome she is doing so well. It was good to read your thought process as you wrote – ending with realizing you needed to go to a meeting. I was freaking out last week about some stuff (not involving my daughter) that may or may not happen in the near future and my sponsor told me, “Be where your hands are.” So it’s been working this week – when I start ruminating and freaking out with worries about the future, I look at my hands and tell myself “stay where your hands are” what are my hands doing right now, Oh, we’re driving the car (lol)… etc. Staying in the present. Seemed like a good thing to share with you after reading this post. Hayley is doing well – WONDERFUL even – she seems like a smart girl, she will get things done her way. Your hands are here today where she is doing great!
Sending my love to you.
God bless.

I’ve been in Al-Anon for 8 years and still don’t have a sponsor. I haven’t found someone I really wanted to ask. How do I choose someone? I need to work the 12 steps with a sponsor – just haven’t committed the time or energy to that task, and it’s long overdue. Thanks for checking in. Peggy

Sponsor question… I just looked for someone who “had what I wanted”. I didn’t look for someone I wanted to be friends with (although we are now), but for someone who I could respect how well they’ve done in their own recovery. That’s how I did it.
Read your post on my blog… oh I still panic and act on anxiety too!!! 🙂 lol

You are right – the real work of recovery has begun for her. You’ve gotten some great comments here – I can’t add anything, except that I’m continuing to pray!

Peggy – over a 100 days – what an achievement! I sympathise with how you feel now – going into secondary treatment suddenly makes one feel very vulnerable. In rehab, the addict is safe and so are we from the worry and the dangers of their every day lives (to a certain extent). I remember feeling unsettled when Hannah was out of rehab and in her Halfway House (as they are called in the UK). As her sibling, I managed to keep some distance but I know it was hard for my mother. Like you, she ‘reminds’ Hannah of things that need to be done – admin, health – those kind of things. I know it is best to leave them to it but you are her mother and would probably do the same if she wasnt in recovery. I think Anna’s advice is great. Once as a suggestion but not twice…Best of luck and thinking of you!


It is awesome that she is doing so well. I am so glad you reached out to her and it worked so far. You might want to ask yourself if you would do the same for your other children. That helps me a lot. It is ok to make suggestions but not to nag. Once is a suggestion…. twice mentioned is a nag.

I am so glad she got a full 90 days. That is so unusual and so good. I wish you both continued good luck and good health.

You know – I’m a bit of a nag with my other children, as well. That’s why I need the principles of Al-Anon, to apply in all areas of my life. I’m good at talking the talk. I need to do more walking. Yes – Hayley’s recovery seems remarkable, given the statistics for heroin addicts. Yes, I’m overjoyed about this. However, it also keeps me a bit skeptical and ready for some disaster/relapse. I’m not sure I could survive a relapse – – – then again, I’ve gotten through things I didn’t ever think possible. Thanks for checking in and your good advice. Peggy

Peg… a well-meant query: what would sober living look like for thee?

I have to remind myself that care-taking and being hooked into somebody else’s life at the cost of my own is my first addictive behavior. (It may not be for you.) When I find myself honing in on somebody else’s life and losing my peace of mind for worrying about what they’re going to do–even if the consequences for them might be dire–well.

Usually I’m trying to protect myself from further hurt.

All this is just to say I understand your situation… much respect, –G

G – yeah – you’ve nailed it for me. I get way too involved with monitoring Hayley’s life – and others’ in my family. You’re right – it is addictive behavior. I’m aware, but not always able to modify my behavior. What is the line between ‘normal’ parental concern and advisement, and enabling/meddling/doing too much for the adult ‘child’? Keep in mind that my recovering addict daughter does not yet possess the skills to live as a responsible, independent adult. I truly don’t want to have to monitor her legal/medical issues. I’ve got my own life to tend to. And it requires a lot of time and attention. I’m floundering here – – – the stakes seem so high. I want to help get Hayley over the ‘hump’ of her craving and destructive behavior – so I don’t have to be involved. Why does she continue to do things the hard way? So much of her pain and complicated life is unnecessary.

Peggy. You answered your own question.

“I truly don’t want to have to monitor her legal/medical issues. I’ve got my own life to tend to. And it requires a lot of time and attention.”

so take care of your life, and allow Hayley to take care of, or not take care of, HER life.

you have done all that is possible, or healthy.

you write, “I’m aware, but not always able to modify my behavior.” … Between Awareness and Action there is Acceptance… This has always been the difficult stage for me, too. I usually jump from awareness to action before fully accepting who I am and what I do so that higher power can change that. Steps 3-9 help me with this… beginning with making a decision to turn my will/life over to the care of a power something other than my own will, then taking stock of my behaviors and getting the help of a mentor who knows what she’s doing in the program.

Considerable work. That footwork has the extra added side-effect of keeping the focus on me and off the addict/alcoholic…

I think you wrote that you haven’t gotten a sponsor yet and were wondering how to choose someone… I try to look for someone who has something I want in terms of recovery, and also someone who lives free of the disease/compulsion. It took me a while to learn that it didn’t have to be someone with whose politics I’d agree/who was professionally successful/with whom I’d like to be best friends (though my AlAnon sponsor and I have become very close friends)… A sponsor is someone who commits to teaching us the principles of the program as they practice them, nothing more. I may have to go to some new meetings to find her. When I need a teacher, I pray sincerely for a teacher, ask higher power to open my eyes and ears, and a teacher ALWAYS appears…

Peggy, Hayley must own her life and her recovery and you must own your own. Do not babysit her in any way. If she forgets to do something important, she will have to bear the consequences. I would help her if she asks me and if I think that it is appropriate for me to help her, otherwise, totally stay out of her business, otherwise you teach her that if she gets in a bad situation, mom will come to rescue her and you will drive yourself crazy in the meantime. Her life (and yours) will go on whether she relapses or not, you do not control her actions, only your own.

Thanks, Helga. I know I need a lot of help in this area. The stakes just seem so high, that at times, I feel I must “remind” her of things. I realize that learning how to detach with love in sobriety, is as important as when she was using. I have a lot of recovery work to do myself. Peggy

I am right there with you. My daughter will be 8 months sober from heroin use next week and I am still worrying. I try to take it one day at a time and some days I am able to let it go but most days not. We are mothers, first and foremost. Take care and I will continue to pray for all our addict children

Thanks, Renee. It sounds so easy to stay out of things – but, it’s not. You’re right – we are mothers first, and I fight that ‘mother lion’ urge to protect and defend. Peggy

Bryan’s experiences in the sober living houses were less than stellar. But as I’ve learned, it is not about the house, or the housemates, or anything else. It was about his desire to truly be clean and sober; and the same applies to Hayley.

I catch myself referring to his situation as “our situation,” “our addiction,” “our recovery,” “our money troubles” and I have to consciously make myself not do that. It is his recovery, his addiction, his money troubles. And sometimes he is not even asking me to be involved, but I still involve myself and create stress for myself. It seems like a viscious circle because it is all still done out of love.

Take yourself to a meeting…and if you need to, take yourself to ten meetings! 🙂 Letting go while still loving is the most difficult lesson I had to learn (and don’t get me wrong, I am still learning it every single day).

You are in my thoughts and my prayers.

Thanks for these good reminders and gentle wisdom. You are obviously much further down the path of recovery than I. My worrying is somewhat compulsive, and very unhealthy, I know. I waste so much time trying to anticipate, or prevent things from happening – which really is a bad habit that essentially is an attempt at easing my own anxiety. You’re right – I need some Al-Anon meetings.

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