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An Open Letter to My Son or Anyone with a Drug Addiction

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Life is not easy. It’s not easy if you are a drug addict or even if you are not an addict. It’s all about evolution. The strong survive.  It’s not just about physical strength; it is more about mental strength. Do you have the will to survive?  Do you have the strength to make it one more day?

As a person who has never been a drug addict or an alcoholic, I can only speak from that perspective. My insight into your world is only through observation. I do not wish to walk in your shoes. But I can tell you what it is like to walk in mine – if you are serious about sobriety.

Every day I have unfulfilled wants and they are not centered on anyone else. It may seem selfish, but I believe that the center of one’s being can only revolve around oneself. I want things, I want different feelings, I want changes in others, I want, I want, I want. It really never ends. I believe that desire is no different for a drug addict or non-addict.

Daily there are people out there telling you, no – a boss, friends, parents, spouses, and girlfriends – that is just a part of life.  Disappointment and hurt is as much a part of living as joy, happiness and love. Hurt is the same for an addict as it is for a non-addict. The difference is how we react to and cope with our emotions, whether they are good or bad.  I don’t know what drugs do for an addict to help cope with disappointment. I don’t know how drugs heighten the joy of happiness. But I do know that my life would be very monochromatic without the peaks and valleys.

I have no doubt from observing you that you hated every day that you were using drugs. I can see how your life was out of control, spiraling into a pit of hurt and despair. You became so lost that the helping hands of others could not even be grasped.

I see your struggles with being clean. More pain than joy. It’s a time in your life where the scales are not balanced. You are working so hard to survive but everyone is saying, no.  There are so many frustrations.  What is the use, you may wonder?

There is one place where no one will say no. There is one life that will accept you. The life of drug use that you have known for the last several years. That is the easy path to take. 

But, please know that the immediate pain you feel now will eventually fade.

Just as when my father died, there was terrible pain for me. I wanted to pick up the phone and call him, but I knew I couldn’t. I wanted one last time, for old times’ sake, but I couldn’t. I flashed back to all the good times, but they were not to be any more. I believe that feeling of loss is something similar to what you are experiencing in order to live on. Your old life must die – and there is tremendous pain with that death. Each day you will want to use just one more time. Time may heal all wounds but sometimes the scars are there forever.

In time, the scales will balance and you will experience more joy than pain. But for now you must travel the difficult path and find the will to survive. You will become stronger each time you choose to steer away from that dangerous and tempting path at the fork in the road. It may be hard to see because the path to recovery is difficult.  But please know you are not walking alone – hands of help are reaching out to you with your every step.

You don't need to walk alone on the path to recovery.

Posted by  |  Filed under Addiction, Family History, Recovery & Relapse

28 Comments on “An Open Letter to My Son or Anyone with a Drug Addiction”

Chantal Peloquin says:
April 7th, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I run a process group every Monday with those (adolescents) that have abused and have become dependent on drugs. This letter was very touching and demonstrated the empathy that many (unfortunately) lack when it comes to individuals that may or may not know a person struggling with addiction. I will be making copies of this letter and handing them out to my group. I hope that it will provide some comfort, support, inspiration, and will have a positive impact on their lives and in the direction that they choose to head in; once they have successfully completed the program that they are now in.

paul says:
April 7th, 2010 at 5:35 pm

and one more thing, i love you

Patti Herndon says:
April 7th, 2010 at 5:36 pm


Your son is so fortunate that you work so hard to empathize with his challenge…and that you communicate that to him. This will serve him in ways that are difficult for us, as non-substance dependent, to comprehend.

As a parent consistently, and, without resentment, communicate their steadfast belief that they hold for their son/daughter’s ability to change, that son/daughter is able to borrow from that expressed faith when they have none for themselves.

As a result of receiving a sense of another’s unfailing faith in the ability to enter recovery, the journey becomes better fortified as they make their way to developing a sustainable foundation of belief, faith and hope in and for themselves.

These elements + reasonable expectations + plan = CHANGE.

You’re a great dad…All sons should be so fortunate.

Addiction is the journey. Recovery is the destination.

Susan Lea says:
April 8th, 2010 at 1:05 am

Thank you Ron. What a wonderful letter. You express these feelings in a way that anyone can relate to, addict or non-addict. Thank you for saying that wanting things, desiring things is normal for everyone. It’s so hard when the addict accuses the non-addict of being selfish. But being selfish isn’t always a bad thing. If the addict is being truly selfish, he/she will want more than drugs. He/she will want love and health and joy and family.

Terri Counts says:
April 9th, 2010 at 5:08 am

My daughter is in her third year of struggling to stay sober. You articulated feelings that many parents have in your letter to your son. Thank you for writing this.

Barbara says:
April 11th, 2010 at 12:12 am

Ron, you’ve been a huge help to so many people on either side of addiction. Thank you.

Carolyn says:
April 13th, 2010 at 10:25 pm

I am so grateful for this blog. Greetings from New Zealand. The content of this blog and others has helped me to put together a letter to give my son. I have enabled him for far too long. I would love any thoughts on my letter:

14 May 2010
Dearest Ron
I am hugely concerned about your marijuana use. I have seen changes in you over the past few months that lead me to worry about your current and future health and well-being. I love you dearly and can no longer stand by and let this happen without taking action.

In my view, you are suffering from substance abuse with marijuana and this is evidenced by the fact that you are smoking it virtually daily and are unable to have a period of a week, or even a couple of days, without using marijuana at all. I believe you are using marijuana in order to function right now and that is addiction to a substance.

From reading scientific research I know that there are likely effects of prolonged use of marijuana. I have seen a lot of the following with you recently : anxiety, sleep disturbance, irritability, moods swings, lethargy, explosive outbursts, minimal interaction with me, Amanda and the rest of your family, changes in eating patterns, frequent absences from school and now Uni, changes of friends, spending large amounts of money, decrease in other activities. Long term I am worried about impaired brain function, memory loss and respiratory illness.
I believe that you use marijuana as much as you do to lessen anxiety, stress and feel better able to cope. I believe that there are issues that need to be resolved in your relationship with your Dad, and me. I am prepared to do whatever it takes to help resolve these issues – I promise you I will take ownership of things I can be doing better and I ask you to do the same. If these issues aren’t addressed I believe that you will suffer long-term with anxiety and that your health and future relationships will be severely affected.

What I want
I want you to significantly reduce your marijuana use to less than 2 times per week and keep it that way. I would love you to give up completely but I know that we need baby steps.

What do you want? Do you think your use of marijuana – and the subsequent effect it is having on you – is acceptable and good for you now and in the future?

What I offer to help
Love and support in any way I can
I will support you to take ownership of this problem yourself and to be responsible for your own physical and mental well-being.
Professional support by trained, experienced professionals used to dealing with drug dependency
I will pay for you to attend a gym (e.g. GI)

My boundaries:
I do not wish to live in a home were drugs are being used illegally
I do not wish to live in a home where people are in bed until midday or later then watch TV all afternoon and evening
I do not wish to continue paying the living expenses of my children if they choose not to work or study
I do not wish to enable my children in any way to use Marijuana and become lethargic, anxious, and unmotivated.

My rules:
You are
• not to have any marijuana on you, in the house, or in your car at any time
• to be out of bed by 9 am each day
• to shower and tidy your room each day
• to work three nights per week at Wisconsin
• not to use my EFTPOS card at all
• to have your car serviced by the end of the month
• to have the bumper back on your car by the end of the month whether it is repaired or not

My car and parking card will no longer be available to you – including to go to Uni
I will no longer top up your phone
I will sell the car immediately if I can prove you are driving under the influence
You will hand back the keys to your car after 1 May if the work above is not complete
If you haven’t rectified the situation by 1 June the car will be sold for parts
If your marijuana use continues to be as extreme as it is now I will call in the relevant support from drug and alcohol abuse support centres.
The reason I have raised the ‘car’ issue here is that I think this is important to you and that it’s something you would like to achieve. I believe that decreasing your marijuana use will increase your ability to achieve some of your goals.

I love you dearly. I admire your personal values and respect you as a person. I am extremely proud to call you my son. I believe that you are on a track that will lead you to personal happiness with your dreams and aspirations for your future. However, recently things have begun to change and I can no longer stand by and see you sink deeper into yourself and live a life that is as painful as you have recently described.


Patti Herndon says:
April 17th, 2010 at 8:24 pm


Yours is an awesome letter. It is an example of an empowerment born of responsible dedication to educating yourself as to the evidenced based facts regarding the abuse of marijuana, framed in your obvious love and concern and healthy boundary setting.

Your use of empathy in your communication allows your son to receive the invaluable content of your communication in a way that serves to avoid engagement of a defense posturing in his response.

It’s all too common for individuals stuck in bad patterns of choice to automatically launch their defense mechanism when they “perceive” they are being criticized or confronted. Really…we all tend toward this, often, unconscious response strategy when we perceive ourselves as not being heard or understood. Your letter provides the necessary component of: “I pledge to support you in your journey to healthier living in ways that will be respecting and productive for you, for me, and our family”.

Your communication to him is drenched in genuine love, hope and wisdom. You are offering up for calm, collaborative discussion a sensible change-oriented plan of attack that elicits “change talk” from him. This kind of dialogue represents his expressed personal values and thoughts about what “he” will do to facilitate healthy change.

Because we know that the individual is accountable for making the argument for his/her own change if it is to grow toward that of becoming strongly rooted in sustainable recovery season to season, then we can think of “change talk” as being the seedling.

This is where the rubber meets the rode. Change talk is evidence that the individual is contemplating his options. This is a good sign. From there, gaining ground becomes, in his view, “doable”. He moves on from there, one step at a time, to develop a plan with the help of good, quality, consistent supports in place. He gains momentum and increased capacity to navigate the onramp of sustainable change.

What you communicate in this great letter is immeasurably valuable to his sense of faith in his ability to make better choices, as well as to you and your family’s sense of peace and empowerment.

Major Kudos to You, Mum! I wish you and your family continued successes in your journey.

Addiction is the journey. Recovery is the destination

Pat N. says:
April 17th, 2010 at 9:18 pm

To Mum,

Enjoyed reading your post but there’s just one small detail you may wish to investigate. You posted, “I want you to significantly reduce your marijuana use to less than 2 times per week and keep it that way. I would love you to give up completely but I know that we need baby steps.”

You might want to vist with an experienced alochol/drug counselor before discussing that option with your child.



Patti Herndon says:
April 21st, 2010 at 12:07 am


As Pat suggests it is important, and can be very beneficial, to engage the help of an experienced, vetted clinician. You did indeed mention engaging a professional in your post…and that’s awesome.

It is crystal clear that you are a very well informed, engaged parent. Kudos to you! As a parent whose focus is “what will likely best support and serve my son in his desire for change”, you know your child better than anyone else does…and that includes clinicians.

The “right” counselor/clinician for your son’s particular circumstance can supercharge recovery and increase peace for the entire family system. It’s important to interview a few professionals, at least. Not every clinician will be a match. An ill-suited clinician can create an energy that can complicate, rather than facilitate, recovery and family peace.

You are clearly equipped in supporting your son responsibly and lovingly. Initially, my husband and I made serious errors in the way we handled our son’s substance use disorder. We were angry and resentful, early on, and we let our selfish perspectives of the “who” we thought he should be degrade our sensibilities about our son’s need to define himself, and problem solve in the way that “he” could best improve his odds for recovery. As we learned more about his challenge and communicated with respect to his views about how he would move forward…He engaged the process with hope.

Yours is a model of great communication that I wish I had been capable of 17 years ago. Many parents have a hard time finding the balance that you have achieved in your written letter. I can imagine that you also work hard to achieve that balance in your personal interactions with your son. You should be proud of your informed dedication to your son. It is going to continue to serve you, your son and your family well.

Studies increasingly show that total abstinence may not be a realistic expectation in every case of substance dependency. Those substance disordered who also have a mental health diagnosis such as bipolar, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, as well as other mood and personality disorders often have a more complicated and difficult challenge with sustainable recovery. The “cold turkey” approach is especially success-resistant for those with a co-occurring disorder.

“Thirty-seven percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental health illness.”

Statistics show that most people will relapse an average of seven times before becoming rooted in sustainable recovery. The change process occurs over a period of time for most. The term “individual” was never more accurate than when applying it to each person’s personal journey toward increased well being through change. It takes as long as it takes.

The odds for healthy change are increased when a substance disordered individual has the support of a parent or other dedicated loved one(s) who are engaged in attaining, processing and implementing consistent, “contention-free” advocacy.

When a parent/advocate is up to speed on the current information available regarding the biopsychosocial realities of substance dependency along with their loved ones’ specific circumstance, it ups their capacity to make reliable judgments regarding what options for recovery will tend to be best suited for their loved ones particular support needs, motivations and capacity to engage in a healthy way in any given mile in the journey.

When parents/advocates have a solid frame regarding realistic options for recovery, it is much more likely that the environment will include necessary empathy, encouragement and healthy boundaries. When the expectations of parents/advocates match the biopsychosocial reality of the individual’s dependency
challenge/circumstance, “stress” is reduced and a reinforced hope can be put to work for the substance dependent individual and the family system.

“Even those who acknowledge a serious problem are not likely to move toward positive change unless they have some hope of success. Self-efficacy is a critical determinant of behavior change-it is the belief that they can act in a certain way or perform a particular task and thereby exercise control over events.” So…” hope” is a clinical component in recovery. Recovery will not happen without it. Hope will not grow in a desert of unresolved resentments. A good family therapist experienced in drug and alcohol counseling can help foster a family dynamic that will best serve the goal of responsible advocacy, recovery and strong family bonds.

Building a reliable foundation of successes through compartmentalized victories, or, “baby steps”, will allow for additional “beams” to be added; fortifying the frame in the course of the recovery process. In tandem, this allows for increased belief in one’s capacity to make the necessary, desired change. A substance dependent persons’ capacity to consistently move through the stages of change onto sustainable recovery can and does begin with seemingly small steps. Baby steps, perhaps, to those that have never experienced the emotional/physical pain of substance dependency, but “leaps” forward to freedom that waits down the road for the soul desiring to be whole and healthy again.

Keep up the great work, Carolyn!

Addiction is the journey. Recovery is the destination.

Wilson DC, Crisanti AS. (2008). Psychometric Properties of the Dual-Disorder Treatment Fidelity Scale: Inter-Rater Reliability and Concurrent Validity.

SAMSHA Treatment improvement protocol (TIP) Series
US Department of Health and Human Services

Pat N. says:
April 23rd, 2010 at 2:56 pm

“Studies increasingly show that total abstinence may not be a realistic expectation in every case of substance dependency.”

This is a true statement but it is a last resort and one very few professionals would advise the parent(s)of an adolescent to pursue. I would venture to guess this would be successful less than 1% of the time. I have studied the research also and the studies indicate this is not a successful program and therefore it is not recommended.

In addition, this raises other concerns, do we purchase the illegal substance for our child from the dealer and monitor the child’s use as they take “baby steps” in reducing their use or do we give our children the money to pay the dealer which continues to place the child in harms way? How long would parent(s) implement such a program? If the parent was arrested for purchasing drugs for their child would a counselor testify on behalf of the parent and the fact that they suggested this procedure? If so, could the counselor be held legally and/or civilly responsible?

Is there a more complicated disease than addiction?!!!!!


Pat N.

Patti Herndon says:
April 26th, 2010 at 2:14 am

Pat N.

Thank you for your feedback. I have faith that there exists a vast majority of dedicated, savvy parents who appreciate the opportunity to learn about fact-based data concerning therapeutic treatment models and protocols -Parents, including myself, who gain so much via investments in authentic fellowship with other parents on this comprehensive site. Parents whose motivations and agenda stem from a magnanimous desire to share for the purposes of encouragements and to the obtainment of insights gained through thoughtful, sincere dialoging, reasonable inquiries and reliable information. This is why The Partnership and its cyber community of dedicated parents and contributors serve immeasurably to amplify efforts concerning prevention, intervention, and evidence-based treatment resources.

I’m sure you can appreciate that one of the most creditable attributes of this Partnership support community is that it appeals to, and thus draws, parents who have the skill set to discern evidence-based content from that of speculative assertions and personal suppositions. This speaks favorable volumes about the parents who utilize the Intervene Community, and the rest of the Partnership website, to facilitate their individual and collective learning.

As we parents continue to increasingly invest in the kinds of solicitous actions and responses that serve the specific needs and well being of our individual children and families, the result is two fold. It also increases public awareness on an ever-expanding scale toward healthier, strengthened communities.

This kind of growth blooms through a curative, evidence-based “menu of options” in treatment and treatment resources and serves our substance dependent/abusing sons and daughters. As well, this approach serves to increase peace and confidence in our moments as parents. The result is that we are able to better position ourselves on the road toward sustainable recovery one powerful step at a time. Through better informed choices, the size of the step, be it “baby” or “bigger”, is best engaged and implemented by those who stand to influence the most well being. Well being derived from healthy change. Those in the position to draw from what it is that will increase the odds of recovery for their family member and encourage the foremost in success-achievable options suited to each individual case would be the informed parent/guardian/advocate.

Parent(s): Educated, dedicated, compassionate… Setting healthy, logic-based boundaries with reasonable expectations based on the identified individuals diagnosis/reality/need. Parents…working in a spirit and frame of responsible collaboration with their son/daughter…Parents who are supported by those vetted clinician(s) capable of formulating sound advisements for the family which are accumulated from casting a wide net toward treatment models and through considerations based on what constitutes as sound treatment matching and empowerment for the family. These components utilized in tandem with insights regarding the substance disordered individual and that individuals’ working family system/dynamic serve as a triple threat to the insidious forces associated with the condition we know as “addiction”.

Pat…Giving benefit of doubt that your following inquiry, “Do we purchase the illegal substance for our child from the dealer and monitor the child’s use as they take “baby steps” in reducing their use or do we give our children the money to pay the dealer which continues to place the child in harms way?” is sincere, rather than acrimonious; I, personally would answer it by sighting my ventured guess that less than one percent of parents and/or reliable clinicians would suggest, much less advise, that you engage in the illegal act described in your inquiry above. This based on the reasonable assumption that participating Intervene Community parents, parent’s at large, as well as licensed clinicians would identify your purchase of illicit drugs for your child as unconscionably irresponsible. Given these assertions, I’m sure you can grant that your related “part two” inquiry regarding legal accountability by a counselor advising a parent to buy drugs for their child as being irrelevant.

I can only assume that you would not seriously consider purchase of illegal substances, but if this in not the case, I encourage you to seek the counsel of an expert who can best inform you of the legal and ethical consequences of such a choice as the one you propose.

I can appreciate your depth of pondering, though. You have obviously endured great challenge in your journey. You are in the right place, as there are so many great parents here to help support you in making the best, healthy decisions you can make in your individual journey.

“Is there a more complicated disease than addiction?” you asked, Pat.

Rather than trying to determine whether or not there is a more complex human condition, I’d encourage you to place your energy toward identifying the kinds of strategies that would promote better effective, innovative responses from the addicted individual’s sphere of influence, and on behalf of advancing the family’s sense of peace and empowerment. The issue of complexity aside, I’m unaware of another condition whose proliferation, as well as successful treatment is as dependent upon pro-socially motivated response or is as innately rooted in how we act or don’t act in terms of informed compassion.

Best wishes for ever-increasing peace,Pat.

Addiction is the journey. Recovery is the destination.

Teenage Cancer says:
June 22nd, 2010 at 6:46 pm

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.


Shirley Reed says:
November 10th, 2011 at 11:53 pm

My 29 year old granddaughter has just been admitted to a hospital for drug and alcohol abuse for the 4th or 5th time. She wants me to write her and I just didn’t know what else to say. My son is so confused. He had to buy percriptions for her to take while in the hospital. We both are at the end of our rope…. we have looked everywhere and nothing seems to be working. Reading all of this gives me hope again. How can I keep in touch with you?

John Ferres says:
May 29th, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I know drug addiction is dangerous , but my miserable life is what made me an alcoholic .. I lost everything, as long as i try to make people happy , they are trying to make me depressed .. so I drank alcohol for the first time ,and I am wishing to quit but I am not able to , if I undergo a medical treatment , my family will know , and I will be in such a fucking embarrassing situation . so I need your help

Jerry Otero says:
May 31st, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Dear John,
I hope that this response to your recent blog post is taken in the very same spirit in which I write it to you.

It’s very easy to understand how you would feel that the circumstances of your life made you into an alcoholic, and that the roots of your alcoholism exist outside of you – manipulating and controlling you, rendering you helpless to better tend to the side of you that hurts so much. It is more likely however, that these thoughts are the manner in which this insidious disorder deceives you and cheats you out of your power.

John, the causes of your alcoholism reside within your brain, where it works to keep you within it’s grip. You will probably experience more shame and guilt by continuing to avoid squarely staring down this problem, than you would if you were to seek and get the help you need.

In the words of a recovering pal of mine who found the help he needed, “…I came to save my butt, not to save face.”

Why don’t you call me at the Partnership’s helpline at the number listed below. We can talk for a bit about the steps you can take to kickstart your recovery.

Jerry Otero MA
Parent Support Specialist
1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373)

Joanna Jackson says:
October 31st, 2012 at 6:33 am

I love smoking, and I find that it numbs some of what can be nearly unbearable pain and at times rather stifling anxiety. This is an issue that many of us face, but in varying degrees and punctuated by vastly different circumstances. I don’t know the stories or feelings or circumstances that have fueled your loved ones’ addictions, and forgive me for pointing out that, neither do you- at least not all of it. So I would suggest first taking in and accepting that there are things about this that you won’t know or understand, ever. And that’s okay.

Now I can only speak for myself, but I’ll tell you what I have and would not respond to, as far as my loved ones’ attempts to intervene have gone:

Any pretense of knowing where there has been no experience. Staristics and research are fine and dandy but there’s a wealth of all kinds of information out there, and a good portion of that is anti (non- government sanctioned) drug propaganda.

Any directive, particularly one starting with “you need to”

What I would respond to:

“Talk to me”
“I’m worried” I personally hate worrying the people I love. Does your loved one respond with, “you have nothing to worry about”? when you say this? the most impactful thing I’ve ever heard in response to this was, and i quote, “don’t tell me what to do with my feelings and I won’t tell you what to do with yours. Worrying is what happens when someone you love is hurting or behaving in ways that are unhealthy for them. So do something about it. I’ll even help you, if you let me” obviously this canbe adapted accordingly but in my case, something this firmly caring and feisty really connected with me.

And for goodness’ sake, seek other perspectives. In my somewhat humble and uhhhh somewhat experienced opinion, drugs/ mind altering substances aren’t issues in and of themselves. It is individuals’ relationships with said substances that make it an issue; the escapism, the overuse and mental and physical dependency that all have deeper roots than chemistry. People need to learn to balance. I also would have responded to, “I want you to be happier” and “get better” or “you will always be out of my control but what worries me is that you’re out of yours”

I’ve gotten the best help from loved ones who haven’t dramatized drug use in general, and who have just listened.

This is widely unrecommended, but my current significant other is an alcoholic. He’s also one of my long time best friends. What really seemed to push him in a healthier direction after an intervention gone wrong with his family was something his brother said to him in the middle of a figh that had turned to my own struggle with sobriety. His brother said (maybe you can tell, I’m a quoter) “no man, this isn’t about taking your fix away or bringing you down bro WE are committed to YOU. And you are falling apart, man, tell me, and be real, is this working for you?” he said no, and his brother asked, “are you ready to make a change?” and he broke down and said no. So we told him we’d committ to asking him every day if he would committ to considering the question each time bc we’re committee o his wellness. My honey is eight months sober and that was a year ago.

Just level with your loved ones and be steadfast. That’s the best I can offer.


Stacy Stephens says:
November 27th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I just recently found out my daughter has been smoking meth.Then learned she frequently shoots up herion or morphine.
She’s 22, I can force her into therapy, but, I am just now beginning our journey. She is not speaking to me now because I won’t pretend I dont’ see the sores on her arms or in her head. I quite blantently point them out. I no longer give her money, but will feed her when she’s hungry and WANTS to eat..My question is, what about me? I know that sounds selfish, but, where and when do I draw the line and not let her addiction control my life?

Ron Grover says:
November 29th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Dear Stacy,

You have ask a very wise question. You are right you may have options of forcing your daughter into rehab and such but the most important thing about this right now is protecting yourself so you can do the right thing when the right time comes.

Begin the process of setting your boundaries. decide where you will go and where you can’t go. In the beginning boundaries confused me. I always thought of boundaries and rules being congruent. There is a huge difference. A little trick I learned while developing boundaries is that rules begin with the word “You”, boundaries begin with “I”.

Simple one to think of is, “You cannot illegally use drugs in my home.” This puts the control on someone else. “You” has to buy-in to the rule and accept it. in reality you have very little control over that. A boundary, “I will not live in a home where drugs are being used illegally.” The truth then is that “I” has all the power. “I” has options, if drugs are being used illegally in my home.

Match your boundaries to your values. Learn to detach with love. Here is a link to a post I wrote on my personal blog about that subject.

Good luck and be strong. Feel free to write anytime.

Ron Grover

Sandra says:
January 15th, 2013 at 12:24 am

I have finally found some real information and help for me, about my sons addiction. Can not thank all of you enought for sharing your stories .

Sandy says:
May 19th, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Thank you for sharing the letter to your son.
Loving someone with a drug/alcohol addiction is the hardest thing I have ever done. It’s like a daily accident. I can only pray for them at this time and tell them I love them.

Barb says:
July 25th, 2013 at 12:26 am

Im trying 2 get an intervention 2gether for friday. We dont have money so we have 2 go with state funded rehabs. i have been told my daughter needs duel rehab. Seems like every1 i call for help i am just going in circles. I can only pray now. Wat to do???

Gisela Rall says:
August 12th, 2013 at 9:10 am

I can only say thank you for the opportunity of being able to read this letter, my son is in rehab for the umpteenth time for herion/opiate abuse and is about to come home in three days.

His therapist has asked that everyone close to my son write a letter which consists of the effects of this addiction has had on all of us and what we expect of him when he gets home.

I did not know where to start, it is all so overwhelming but after reading your letter it has given me the strength and ability to do it with ease.

God Bless!


Jill Hansen says:
September 5th, 2013 at 5:34 am

Dear Ron,

Your letter to your son is amazing and I have referred to it many times. I have a 22 year old son that has been struggling with marijuana for a few years now. Of course, we did not know to what extent until the last year or so. He is a strong advocate of marijuana and “researches” it to death so that he can justify what he is doing. I try and explain that I can research it the “opposite” way and have the facts to disprove “his facts”. I am at such a loss as to what to do for him? He does not want to stop, does not think he has a problem, does not care that it is illegal, does not think that it is effecting his life (which it is immensely). Some of the past issues are dealing which gave him “power & money”, then debts to his supplier, running with the wrong crowd, lost his girlfriend of 5 years, police have searched his dorm (found nothing), been robbed at gun point (took about $800 in weed). He has never been arrested or charged with anything up to date. He is now on academic probation as he pretty much failed all his classes last year. He is not going to school this semester due to that. I know he has “dabbled” in ecstasy as well as acid (once that I know of). He can’t hold a job or be on-time for anything.

I have been told that his father and I are “enabling” him by allowing him to have a car, pay for his cell phone and letting him live in our house. We do not want to kick him out of the house because, at least, this way, we know he is home safe every night and we can touch base with him on the phone.

How do you help someone that doesn’t think he needs help. My heart is broken. I keep thinking “we” did something wrong in raising him. This has severely affected our family at this point. He has an older brother that wants nothing to do with him. I go from being positive to absolutely losing it. I keep trying to say the right things that might “jar” him back to reality to no avail. He will just not listen to me… says that I am crazy.

What advice can you give me… I am pleading for your help. At this point, I just dont know what to do. Thank you in advance.

Loxel says:
September 23rd, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Hi Jill, I just wanted to let you know that it might be useful to have a look at Dr Robert Meyers’s work and his book on Getting Your Loved One Sober…there is also information on his website about CRAFT, which is a scientifically based intervention designed to help concerned significant others (CSOs) to engage treatment-refusing substance abusers into treatment. You can find out more from his website at – I work for a substance misuse agency in Wales and this evidence based technique is something we offer – you might be able to find a service offering it in your area…Hope this helps…

David says:
September 29th, 2013 at 10:53 am

Some of you have been watching too much “Reefer Madness” or just plain overly conservative. The way I see it, smoking a joint a day is no different than having a drink after work to unwind. The only issue I have about it is regarding its legality(federally and in most states but I live in Colorado so that’s not an issue). There is so much misinformation out there about marijuana. And, no, I am not “lazy” or “have no drive.” Honestly that’s all up to the person and is just a load of bs. I work 2 jobs and an internship with an audio production company plus I go to school.
I just chose to have a joint over a beer at the end of the day. It’s more of a “hobby” if anything.

Carol says:
February 5th, 2014 at 1:49 am

I also have a twenty two year old son who has a percoset addiction for the past two years. He just came home today from 2 months in a rehab. I was so grateful today reading Ron’s letter. It was so informative and a correct way to handle anyone with this disease. I will definitely be using alot of what was in your letter. I have several siblings also who have addiction problems, so I have experienced this most of my life and am very well informed also but always willing to learn new techniques. Thank you so much for even more advice. Carol

Susie says:
April 6th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Thank you Joanna Jackson. I read your letter. That helps so much. My son is 23 and is a heroin addict but honestly he has used every drug there is including meth, cocaine, prescription pills, etc. we found out February 2103. He has been in and out of rehab 16 times at least. It is so overwhelming. We are at a lost. We are guilty of saying “you need to” do this or that. But we have expressed worry also. We hope to go see him this week maybe and I will use your wise advice. Many of us parents do it wrong because we just don’t know better. All I know my heart is breaking.

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