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Writing a Letter to Your Child with a Drug or Alcohol Problem

Monday, April 19th, 2010

In response to Ron Grover’s recent post, there’s been a lot of discussion about the benefits of writing a letter to a son or daughter struggling with a drug or alcohol problem.

And I think there’s something in it for both the parent and the child.

For a parent, a letter allows a chance to express feelings that they may not be able to say in person. The simple act of sitting down and writing can often be cathartic. There’s something about capturing and sharing the dizzying array of feelings we walk around with – the frustrations, anger, disappointment, hope and love — to your teen or young adult in the written word.

Maybe because of our fast-paced digital world the old-fashioned, ink-on-paper way of communicating is intimate, a true expression of the heart and mind.

And obviously there’s something unique for the recipient too. A  fresh  way to get through to a child. Somehow it’s different than an email or text – or even a conversation.

What do you think about reaching out to your child with a written letter?  Have you done this before, and if so, what phrases or words have struck a chord?  Would you recommend letter-writing to other parents looking to get through to their child with a drug or alcohol problem? Also, what about sending an email or a text – do you think this packs the same emotional punch?

If you’ve already written a letter to your child, please feel free to share the letter here as well as any tips you have with others in our community.

Writing a Letter to Your Child with a Drug or Alcohol Problem

Posted by  |  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Writing About Addiction

59 Comments on “Writing a Letter to Your Child with a Drug or Alcohol Problem”

Ron Grover says:
April 19th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I hope there are addicts or former addicts that read this and let me know if letters mean anything. I hope at some point in their life and struggle a letter on paper has everlasting words, but it’s OK if it doesn’t.

Like you said, sometimes writing the letter is healing for the writer too.

Ron Grover says:
April 19th, 2010 at 10:16 pm


This is the first letter I wrote my son about his using drugs. He was probably 16 years old at the time I wrote this, he is now 22.

Dear Alex,

It seems that I am not able to say the things I feel that are important to say without me messing up and getting a response that stops our conversation. So I thought maybe I could write you and be successful in conveying how important our relationship is to me.

As my son you embody all that is me, my strengths, my flaws and my hopes. When I look at you I realize the potential in you of all of the things I am not. However, I realize, living my life through you is something that cannot be done. I have lived a life that when reviewed will point out many mistakes and missteps through my journey.

You know how I feel about certain things, maybe that is the source of our disagreement so I am not venturing into that valley. Instead I hope to be able to convey to you how I feel about you and maybe you will use your wisdom to understand the road I travel.

Selfishly I look at you as a legacy to my life. All three of you children are a legacy to your mother and I however, you are my only son. Maybe it is not right but every father looks at their son and can see everything of themselves in that boy growing to be a man. One day you may understand that vision as you look into the eyes of your own son. As for me, I understand what it is to look back at that man and think about how I am going to be more than that “old man.” I didn’t know it then but I realize it now that old man wanted me to be more than him, more than I could dream.

Maybe it’s not fair that there are times father and sons as they both grow cannot appreciate each other as much as they should but I have a feeling that has been going on since the first son was born and it will continue long after our legacy has set. But in the here and now I cannot help but believe as I work to better appreciate your growth I will learn to better communicate and understand the things important to you. This is a challenge that I am dedicated to achieve. But as with achieving any goal the path may or may not be straight. All I ask is patience and understanding, that is the virtue maybe I lack but it is not one that I cannot work to develop.

Son, as I watch you and your sisters grow I am proud of the people you have become. Are there disappointments? No, there are no disappointments, sometimes there are frustrations. Because I understand all three of you are smart and capable people and just as your mother and I have done you will find answers to life’s problems. One day you will come to understand when you have children the frustrations are not in dealing with life’s issues for your children the frustration for a parent is in not being able to prevent the problem.

The intention of this letter is not to deal with individual issues but I cannot close without trying to put into words how important one thing is to me and how frightened I am concerning it. Alex, drugs scare me. They frighten me so much that at times I am not rational. When I talk to you about them it is from a position of fear. That intense fear makes me say things and do things that may not be in the best interest of our relationship. This is not an excuse it is only a fact I hope you can understand. How can I explain to you how much fear I have and what it does to me? I want to tell you about a true story from when I was younger.

Growing up in Granny’s neighborhood and as we got older we could go to the creek and the river. Crossing the creek was a railroad bridge. Sometimes if a train was coming me and some of my friends would stand on the bridge up against the rail as a train went past. We thought it was cool the way the train blasted past as we clutched the rail with our backs up against it. What I never thought much about but can remember now was sometimes as the engine pasted you could see the engineers looking at us and the look on their face. As I remember now they were probably the most frightened men I have ever seen. We didn’t know or think about what we were doing, it was exciting. Now I understand why they were so frightened. When it was one of my jobs at Procter & Gamble to unload boxcars I became aware of what to do when you have to open a boxcar. The first thing you do is simply lift a solid steel metal handle up. Once it is up you use all your muscles to pull the handle out ninety degrees to the boxcar side. That in turn rotates the catches on the heavy steel door and about half the time the door was so heavy or stuck that you had to get a forklift to push open the door. I understand the fear in those engineer’s faces. They knew if only one of those handles on the whole train was sticking out all of us would be killed and there was absolutely nothing they could do but hope and pray we lived through their train passing. I understand now their fear and my excitement.

The train is a good metaphor for my fear. Sometimes my fear puts you standing right in the middle of those tracks. Off on the horizon I can see that train coming faster and faster. As it is getting closer you cannot hear it or know that it is dangerous. I am running as hard as I can, I know when I get to you it may be a “me and the train” to save you. There is no decision, you cannot hear me you cannot hear the train. Can you see the fear in my face. I will not hope and pray I will leap between you and train. I cannot be rational with this much fear. I am not asking you to forgive my fear or even to understand it. I only ask that you recognize it and appreciate that fear this irrational is only borne of intense love and admiration.

Alex, this letter is not meant to be corny, if you want to talk about this letter that is OK, if you do not want to talk that is OK too. I just wanted to try and find a way without angering you to explain how I feel deep in my heart. All I truly want you to know is that all of your life no matter what you do or what you feel I will love you.

Bobby says:
April 20th, 2010 at 2:37 am

Thank you for sharing this with us. I hope it will inspire many parents to write letters to their addicted children. The written word leaves quite an impression on people. It shows you care enough to take the time to write your feelings down and is an excellent way to communicate with your child. Thanks again for reminding us that letter writing can be a tremendous source of support to a recovering addict or one who needs to get treatment.

Nancy Joyce says:
April 20th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

I wrote many a letter to my daughter each time I felt it was successful and yes, it was comforting for me too. Sometimes I could not get all the words in context and out before the arguing began. My daughter did die eventually at the age of 21 but my letter did mean something to her. I found every one I could ever remember writing in a box along with cards from me, family and friends. Allyson even wrote back a few times expressing her feelings as well. For us, this didn’t replace open conversations, they just filled a gap when talking was so difficult. Anger, frustration, fear, and denial would often get in the way. Writing can be a great form of therapy for most people.

Pat N. says:
April 20th, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Dear Son,

I just finished reading the book “beautiful boy” by David Sheff. This is a true story about his relationship with his son who became addicted to meth.

I enjoyed the book for many reasons but it was the author’s ability to put into words his emotions for a son he loves so dearly. I do not have that talent so I borrowed the words from his book to express my emotions for you; the words expressed are mine, the truth of the words are mine. His words are my words, words that expressed my feelings for you that I didn’t know how to express until now. I believe the author speaks for all father’s who love their addicted son’s.

“Todd could die. I think, Todd could die. I stop for a moment.

I would miss having Todd in my life. I would miss his phone messages, his intelligent expressions, his letters, having dinner with him, playing golf and the transcendent feeling between us that is love.

I would miss all of it.

I miss it now.

And here it sinks in: I don’t have it now. I have not had it whenever Todd has been on drugs.

Todd is absent, only his shell remains. I have been afraid — terrified to lose Todd, but I have lost him.

In the past, I tried to imagine the unimaginable and I tried to imagine bearing the unbearable. I imagined losing Todd by overdose or accident, but now I comprehend that I have already lost him.
Today, at least, he is lost.

I have been terrorized by the fear that he would die. If he did, it would leave a permanent crack in my soul. I would never fully recover. But also I know if he were to die, or for that matter, if he stays high, I would live on — with that crack. I would grieve. I would grieve forever. But I have been grieving for him since the drugs took over — grieving for the part of him that is missing. It must be grief. At least it feels exactly like Joan Didion describes it in the Year of Magical Thinking : “Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.” (Ah, so that is what they are. it’s a relief to know.)

I grieve, but I also continue to celebrate the part of him that is untouchable by meth or any other drug. I will never let a drug take that from me.

“Insanity is the insistence on meaning,” wrote Frank Bidart in a poem. Yes, but this human brain of mine requires meaning — at least an approximation of meaning. The meaning I have come to is that Todd on drugs is not Todd but an apparition. Todd high is a ghost, a specter, and when he is high my lovely son is dormant, pushed aside, hidden away and buried is some inaccessible corner of his consciousness. My faith in God comes with a belief that Todd is in there and he — Todd, his essence, his self — is whole, safe, and protected. Todd strong and clear and filled with love — Todd may never emerge. The drug may win the battle for his body. But I can live knowing that Todd is in there somewhere and that the drug cannot touch him where he is in there somewhere he is there.”

Whatever happens, I will love Todd. Somewhere in that place he knows this. And I know.”

In prayer for you and all who suffer from the disease of addiction.

I pray for your recovery daily,

With all my love,


J says:
April 20th, 2010 at 10:33 pm

As a recovering addict and a substance abuse professional, I will say for Ron’s sake that letters do in fact matter. It is in a letter that one can sometimes understand how another feels without getting defensive-or if one does then they can put it in check and re-read the letter. You can’t yell at a letter or talk back to it- it is what it is. Sometimes it can be tough to read that someone is scared for you but it has been helpful for myself. However, the wording of the letter is important. It is important to not lay blame but rather explain how you feel…and as someone who loves an addict it can be helpful for the writer as well.

Community Manager Olivia says:
April 21st, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Editor’s Note: For those of you interested in reading posts by David Sheff, you can find them in Decoder: “Answer Me This”, “Notes From the Road” and “How Can We Protect Our Children?

You might also be interested in David’s thoughts on how you can help your child. See what he has to say in his video located in the Who Can Help My Teen? tab.

Patti Herndon says:
April 21st, 2010 at 8:34 pm


I’m grateful to you for your dedication to expressing your heart and sharing your wisdom. It’s helping many parents. It helped me.

Reading your post brought back many memories of the early days in the journey. I relate to the “train”. I remember having written a couple of letters to my son when he was in treatment. What stands out in my memory, due to your post, is that I have described my fear about my son’s choices in those exact “train” terms. This is additional proof of the feelings we share as parents challenged by the addiction of a son or daughter. And, it’s comforting to me to know that we don’t travel this journey in isolation.

I used to share this with my son, “It’s as though you are standing in the middle of a train track with a speeding engine coming straight for you. I am off in the distance and I know that my legs can not move fast enough to get me to you before the train”.

Your post brings back a wall of emotion; what I recall as having been, often times, debilitating emotion from those days. I felt paralyzing fear and anger that I could not save him.

Things are much improved now. It took a lot of work and a lot of focus in the journey for me to find my own inner peace. A peace that is not dependent on my son’s choices, though, obviously, my peace does increase with his progress because I’m a mom who loves her son…I’m a parent. I don’t do everything right. That task would be impossible. But, I know I do my best and that “best” has, over time, developed by engaging good support from resources like, The Partnership, and involvement in advocacy, and through continued learning about the brain science involved with addiction, as well as the therapeutic models that evidence based research show to be helpful in the fight for recovery.

I value my son’s happiness as extremely important to my sense of peace. But, as it turns out…”his” sense of peace, cultivated by his increasing acceptance regarding his individual, separate reality and accountability, has served in the journey to provide “me” with happiness. That came as a surprise…a very nice one considering all the fear and misery we had endured in the many years since the journey began.

I allowed myself to be tied to the tornado -A tornado born and swirled into destructive fury by chaos and stress -consequences of addiction that often dictated my moments, my relationships…my life. I lived that way for so long. My reactions to my son’s choices were to my peace as terrorizing winds are to a newly spouted seedling on a rocky hillside.

The change did not come easily. There were times I thought I would not ever learn to manage, much less enjoy, my own life or return to experiencing the joys associated with the relationships in it.

We still have hard times. But, now, my ability to respond in a way that allows my life to grow, and my experiences to hold purpose and direction, instead of fear and resentment, has increased a great deal.

My husband and I began getting help to free ourselves from the chains that connected us to the catastrophic consequences of our son’s individual, personal challenge. We learned, better, how to gain stability and peace through supporting each other and our son in ways that fostered each of our own self-efficacy.

Keep your faith and hope alive. Keep it “fit” for the travelling by thinking and doing those things that will serve your sense of empowerment. Take it one hope-filled step at a time.

Write letters to your sons and daughters. Tell them how you feel and ow much you love them and hope for them. Share your letters with other parents who are struggling, or who are working to maintain their hope and peace. A spirit of purpose- driven communication and fellowship serves our goal of great parenting…serves our sons and daughters…and our communities. It amps the experience of living connected.

Addiction is the journey. Recovery is the destination.

April 23rd, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Oh Olivia. Sigh. You would NOT want my letter here. Trust me.

Community Manager Olivia says:
April 23rd, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Hi Dawn–I’m curious, what were your experiences with writing a letter to your son or daughter? Was it an effective way to communicate with your child? Or, is there something else that worked better for you that could possibly help other parents with a child struggling with drug addiction?

Community Manager Olivia says:
April 23rd, 2010 at 7:00 pm

What a powerful and heartfelt letter, Ron–thank you for sharing with all of us. It’s clear that a lot of tender loving care went into both letters.

In this digital age, do you think a short note or even a message via text or email could be effective? Has anyone here tried reaching out to your child via text or e-mail?

Pat N. says:
April 23rd, 2010 at 10:33 pm


Any letter, text or email that “sincerely” convey’s the family love, hope and forgiveness for the child while making sure the child understand that his/her “willingness” to fully accept recovery is the first step.

My addict told me he rarely read the books I sent him when he was in various homeless shelters or treatment programs. He didn’t read the Bible, magazines articles, and many of the letters I wrote in which I stressed recovery topics but he said when he was told his family loved him and he was forgiven, then that gave him hope and encouraged him to fight the good fight.

Elizabeth says:
April 28th, 2010 at 2:29 am

Thank you everyone for sharing, it is giving me ideas and insights on how best i could deal with my 23 year old who has decided to leave home and be on the streets because of his drug addiction problem and all the horrible things he has done at home of selling almost most of my things including my clothes, laptops, printers etc, for drugs. Liz

Sandra says:
May 17th, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Tears are streaming down my face as I read the letters and comments. I’ve written letters to my son before but I think it’s time for another one. I just ordered ‘Beautiful Boy’ today, along with a couple other books. I imagine my tears are going to be flowing through much of the readings. Thank you for sharing.

Keith Killgore says:
June 11th, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Folks, bless your precious hearts! Thank you all so very much for sharing! Indeed, I have been grieving for some time as my only son has gone deeper & deeper into this dark & unforgiving world! In 20 years, nothing & nobody, even in the darkest of times, ever came between us .. until this past year! However, along with a toxic relationship, it feels as though he has drifted so far away from me! Just as a deeply concerned dad, and not a well man, I have increasingly felt hopeless & broken hearted! Though I have cried many a tear but continue my faith, hope & love, the genuine wisdom shared here is quite helpful & much appreciated!
Again, thank you all so very much!

Brandy says:
November 15th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

To each of you who have posted your thoughts and emotions, thank you. I am desperately seeking knowledge, wisdom, peace and understanding of this demon that has taken over our lives. Knowing that my husband and I are not alone is comforting, but enabling our minds to absorb this concept appears to be a never ending struggle. Addiction is so much deeper than I had ever imagined. I used to believe that addiction was entirely a simple yes or no choice. After attending a NA meeting with my son the reality of my misconception pierced the very depth of my soul. As I see my son struggle with the choice each and every day I understand that no one would willingly put themselves thru this misery if it was a simple choice. I pray for each and every addict and family for relief from this nightmare.

amy says:
December 2nd, 2010 at 2:03 am

appreciate all the suggestions and comments….however my daughter who admitted she was on vicodin but has now stopped after confessing to us…is still moody,withdrawn and tired all the time….does this ever change? should I believe her when she says she is now clean and will never touch drugs again?

Mary G says:
July 23rd, 2011 at 8:24 pm

My Missing Child
July 23, 2011

My dear child
You have gone to the dark side
Totally is unknown to me
This side of your world

My imagination tirelessly paints
Scary images of this world
It haunts me while I sleep,
While I watch TV,
While I am alone walking the dog,
While I see young men your age,

It pains me when I see your pictures
All around the apartment
When I see you in the sad eyes of your dad,
In the quietness of your sister
In the prayers of your grand mother

My beautiful happy boy,
No longer here,
Playing in our back yard
No longer in school,
Not graduating with your friends
I can’t hear your stories
How your biology class was so cool
Your English teacher loved you
Your Chemistry was stupid and you were bored

My boy is lost
Somewhere in the world
Feeding his heroin craving body
In the dark side

Do you remember?
The last time we walked the dog together,
This May, a gorgeous sunny day in the city
In the park, near our home,
I noticed your sad and lost face
As you slept on the grass
Next to the river, watching the dog
Playing in the water
You said the dog is so happy and innocent
You said that not long ago, this was your life
In that sentence alone
You opened a crack, in to the dark side,
You are not innocent or happy in the dark side

Please god hear me,
Someone, Help me,
My child is missing,
Lost in the dark side

I am expecting and terrified of the phone call,
That is coming, any minute from the dark side
Telling me of my beautiful son,
Lifeless in the dark side
To come and identify him
To take him away
The end to the bright light
In my complicated life

The brilliant young man,
That dazzles me with his smile
The boy that can make anyone happy
That can convince anyone to do anything
The one that can make you love him
Even when you knew he is using you
Is gone, out of my life,

Like a zombie,
I am walking through an empty life
The end of my happy days

Please god hear me,
Someone, Help me
My child is missing,
Lost in the dark side

Your Mom

Eva says:
February 27th, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Dear Alex,
I know you don’t care what I say or how I feel, but I still care about you. In fact, I love you.
I always have and always will. My hope for you is to grow up safely, do normal kid things, normal teen things, then normal adult things. Be happy, start your own life as an adult, meet someone, get married, and have children (not too early of course). I want your hopes and dreams to come true, but they can’t if you don’t pursue them. I will even help you pursue them if you need it. But with the pursuit of happiness, comes a journey of rejections, and when they happen, you need to pick yourself up and start again. We are here to comfort you and listen when you need someone to talk to.
But, you have taken your unhappiness to a place where I can’t help you anymore. I’m scared for you. You don’t take care of yourself, you treat your family with disrespect and lack of gratitude and yet we are the ones who love you the most. Your sisters get so excited when you are nice to them, but those times are so few. I relish in the moments when you talk to me and share music with me, like the rap-off, How fun what that?
I know you think I’m full of shit and don’t know what I’m talking about but I’ve been around a lot longer than you and have experienced life, and made many mistakes, but I try to learn from them and hope you to too. I have so much more to life to live but it’s not the same without the whole family, including you. We will always include you in our adventures, but you also need to want to be there. If you are just a grump and mean, we need to remove you from the adventure because the girls deserve to have a big brother that is a protector, not a threat.
Listen, only you can make your life choices and you will need to live the consequences for the bad choices. However, you also need to know that those bad choices impact the rest of the family. I have 2 other children I am responsible for in addition to you. At least, you have parents that support you, care about you, and want you to be happy. There are so many children/teens that don’t have that. Shaun, had a mother and grandmother that burned him with irons and beat him. He was taken away from them and at Christmas time, nobody came to see him. That’s how he ended up at our house, so he would have a family, even if it was for a short time. You are so lucky, you don’t even see how good you have it.
I don’t know what it is you want from people, from us, from the kids at school. Is it attention? Well, you’re getting it, but you’re going about it all wrong. I will not sit here and watch you destroy your life, but I also won’t hand you a golden ticket and allow you to skate by, you need to work for a positive outcome. Cutting your skin is serious, weed and drugs are serious and none of it is acceptable in my house. I love you enough to keep trying to help you, but I will protect my health and sanity during the process. I hope someday you care about how I feel because I am frustrated, tired, concerned, scared but I am also a responsible parent and will always be there for you. Love Mom.

Gail says:
March 14th, 2012 at 8:39 pm

This is exactly where i am right now with my son. Thank you for helping me with the right things to say.
Wishing you and your family the best,

Jennifer says:
March 15th, 2012 at 2:35 pm


Looks like you are the last mom to visit in a long time. Where is everybody? We need to get the word out that there is help because we are not alone. Your letter shows that you are still working through all your emotions. Luckily, anger was not one of them. You still seem very optimistic that your son will recover. We have a long journey ahead of us. Hope all goes well.

Linda says:
April 3rd, 2012 at 12:56 am

You have all put my feelings into words. When your baby decides to use drugs life will never be the same again, for anyone in the family. Hopes for the future are dashed and instead there is deceit and lies. It makes me sad to see others going through the same as I am. However I have found strength in your words and I will deal with one day at the time.

Kellie says:
April 6th, 2012 at 1:41 am

I have wanted to write my son a letter – my only child (he is 23 years old and an alcoholic – unadmittedly) and he has pretty much written me off (as he says, for the rest of my life – he will never have anything to do with me again and wouldn’t care if I died tomorrow). When I write him anything online I just get a very nasty, disrespectful response or no response at all. I’m hurting, but I’m still very angry and I think that is why I haven’t found the words to write him a handwritten letter. I just attended my first al-anon meeting and I was indifferent about it..but will continue to go, as I need to protect me (my sanity, emotions and an overall self perservation). When I write my letter, I will share it here. Thank you for this site and all the wonderful people sharing.

Sue says:
April 22nd, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I was so happy to get to the bottom of this page and see people are still posting. My beautiful son is an alcoholic and in a downward spiral and I am worried for him and his daughter. I, like a lot of parents, had no idea my son was drinking so heavily at the age of 18. That was when I discovered it so who knows when it started. I never saw him drinking and was shocked when his best friends mom phoned me to tell me my son was “drunk and barfing” in her driveway and she was getting her son to drive him home. He walked in and OMG I have never seen him look so pathetic. I freaked on him, I know now it was the wrong thing to do but I didn’t know then. My son was an exceptional student in school and was always the nicest person. He met a girl at a bar and she got pregnant immediately, they had a baby girl in 1999 and stayed together for 4 years. During this time my son did 4 years of University while working parttime-4:00 am to 9:00 am. When he and his girlfriend parted my son got sole custody of his daughter who was 3 at the time, she then lived with me for 2 years until he met another girl, then my granddaughter went to live with them after they dated for a year. My son married this girl after living together for 5 years( not including the year dated). My son was leaving my granddaughter with her while he went out drinking on all of his days off…so often she said she “felt like a single mom to a child who wasn’t hers”. Eventually they parted ways. I’m positive it was because of his drinking and the impaired driving charge he got which cost him over $5000.00. There comes a time when we all have to say, enough is enough! I blame her for the way she left and how she left but not the fact she left. She had to take care of herself. When she left she took everything out of the house that made it a home and my granddaughter now hates her home. She says there are “no luxuries at their house because Dad drinks all our money”. I have tried to help him financially but I am on disability and now I know it’s wrong for me to do that. He has a good job but has no money because he drinks 7 days a week, usually 6 beers a day. My granddaughter had no shoes (boots only), no pants that fit her, one bra that fits and needs socks and underwear. My son has been told this but never buys them for her. Their house is such a mess that my granddaughter would never invite friends over, laundry rarely done. Is he just lazy or is it the beer?? He doesn’t get drunk around his daughter but does on the weekends when she is with me. I want to take her and have her live with me and then he can go do what he wants but I can’t afford it. I live in a seniors low rental building and couldn’t afford to move elsewhere. Yes, he could pay me but would he? I am starting to go to Al-Anon in 2 weeks, I would go sooner but have a prior appointment. I have no vehicle so need to go to a meeting that is close to me. My granddaughter will go with me when school is out for the summer but refuses to go to Al-Ateen. She is very quiet and knows that she will be the younger of the group and just won’t go. She knows her dad is an alcoholic but because he is not mean, or abusive or never gets drunk around her she feels it’s not that bad. But, he can’t get any utilities in his name, he is driving illegally, won’t file his income taxes, has his phone in a friends name and that is cut off, I put the tv and phone in my name for my granddaughter and he had that cut off and ruined my credit. My granddaughter tells me when she gets home from school she is hungry but there is never anything for her to eat, she doesn’t want a meal but to be able to reach for an apple or a cookie, there is nothing so she is hungry until her dad gets off work and makes dinner. She tells me her stomach growls. What should I do , let her be hungry or buy her snacks? I know if I help out it’s more money for him to buy beer but I hate to see her hurting.
I have thought of intervention but I think that costs money. So writing a letter is the way to go I think but I’m not sure if I can tell him how his daughter feels, she would never write a letter to him herself while living with him. Again I am lost but I cannot continue to watch him kill himself, I need to heal myself.

Pat says:
April 23rd, 2012 at 2:23 am

My son did the same to me.There are so many emotions from this destructive behavior!I am now in the process of writing this letter to him as we have been asked to do by the counselors. This is the most difficult thing I have had to do! But I can only hope he get’s it this time and can live a sober productive life!

A.C. says:
April 25th, 2012 at 5:36 pm

This is a letter I wrote to my sister conveying my perspective on her addiction to OxyContin. I am giving it to her later today and hope it strikes some cord with her – but then again it can be so difficult to connect with those suffering from addiction. Anyways, here it is. I appreciate all of the above comments by the way, you are all amazing people.

(Names have been replaced)

Dear Jane,

This is a letter to help shine some light on my perspective regarding all the fighting that has happened the past 4 days, the past 4 months, and the past 4 years. You have always been the kind of person that focuses on the present without a worry for the future. It is not an all bad trait to have – it makes you spontaneous, fun, and easy going. However, it does have some unfortunate consequences. For instance, you constantly feel down on yourself for not being in school, or having plans for school – so that you can be independent and support yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I depend on Mom and Dad a lot as well. They pay my rent for crying out loud – everything else is mostly OSAP and my income from part-time work but they seriously help so much and I don’t know how I could have gone through school as easily without them. We have amazing parents and it is easy to take that for granted. It is a hard fact to face, but as we are growing up, our parents are growing old. That really speaks to me and I want to have as strong a relationship with my parents as possible.

When our family gets in a bad fight, there is always a huge disconnect in perspectives. You feel smothered and misunderstood and untrusted, and we feel frustrated and sad and angry. I don’t want to live life like that anymore, and I hope we can find some middle ground. Mom and Dad provide you with so much: multiple cars, gas money, insurance coverage, a clean home, a place to party once in a while, delicious homemade meals, a stocked fridge, clothes, toiletries; the list goes on and on. Mom is hesitant for you to get a job despite all of this because she cares that much about you getting better.

Maybe you should think about the idea that perhaps you don’t need to want to get better, to get better. Read that line again if you don’t fully understand. What I mean is that perhaps you don’t need to hit “rock bottom”, because when you think about it, your rock bottom had to have been with John. I am so sorry what he did to you Jane and I wish more than anything that I could change it… but I can’t. It will be a long process for me to forgive myself, and that is the exact same way Mom and Dad feel I am sure. There is a lot of misplaced guilt on both sides.

I realize you hate being the centre of attention among all of this “drama”, but the truth is, you create a lot of it. You are irresponsible and disrespect your parents who provide you with so much; and I know you feel a ton of guilt for that. The good news is that our parents are extraordinarily forgiving, and I think you know that our family can never be irreparably broken no matter what happens.

One of the major things I am trying to get across with this letter is for you to hopefully take a look inside yourself and face the denial that the Oxy’s cause you to believe. I believe that the Oxy’s are giving you symptoms that are preventing you from reconsidering rehab.

You may not feel like right now is the best time for you to get better, but right now is certainly the best time where you have the best chance. What I mean is that you are young, you are away from John, you have your family’s utter support – it is up to you to decide to fight your demons and take advantage of these strengths, which other addicts do not have. You have been addicted for about a year now, maybe longer. You have done things for pills you would have never thought you would do. And it is a problem that you do not recognize that sometimes.

I have realized that I will never truly understand what addiction is like and how hard it truly is without being addicted myself, but regardless I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of addiction. That being said, I want to apologize for letting the frustration of your words and actions (and other factors too of course) cloud my judgement and not be fully sympathetic of your perspective. It can easily be overwhelming but I will continue to try harder for you.

I want it to be clear to you that I feel no shame towards you what so ever. I am so ridiculously proud of you Jane, you have overcome so much that my achievements hardly compare. I am a true believer in “everything happens for a reason” philosophy and hope that your experiences will teach you strength and allow you to help others in need in the future.

I never want to be estranged from you Jane, never. You are something special and I hope you choose to get help so that you can heal from all of the pain you have experienced and continue to experience. There is another side, I promise you; and you don’t need to feel like this anymore. This world is huge, there are so many people and experiences awaiting that will make your struggles worth it one hundred times over. I hope you can believe that one day.

I love you always little sister,
Just keep swimming <3
?A. xoxoxo

tammy nick says:
June 4th, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I have been crying since I read these posts. My daughter’s addiction is rage, emotional blackmail, and spite. She knows how much I love her and that my pregnancy was complicated and high risk. It broke my heart to ask her to leave my home on saturday after she called me a crazy f_____ b______. I have been a single parent for sixteen years, and this is not the compassionate loving child that I raised. I wrote her a letter and told her that I would not be bullied and disrespected in my home. I also told her that I would only support positive choices, that I would know longer support her bad choices or clean up her messes. She has stolen, been suspended more times than I can count, took a knife to school, runs away, sexually active (was pregnant in Feb.), hooks school (even though I wake her, she cusses me out and refuses to go). I told her that I would continue taking her to counseling and I would assist with a getting her a job and would provide transportation. But I’m really scared for her, she is a smart girl, identified as gifted in Kindergarten. Now she’s failing school. She makes fun of me for going to church, and seems bothered that she has no control over my emotions (I don’t cry in front of her she enjoyed teasing me). I love her and will continue to pray for her, but self-sacrificing is no longer an option.

Grant me the serenity to accept the people I can not change,
The courage to change the person I can,
And the wisdom to know that is ME!

tammy nick says:
June 4th, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I am not sure if my daughter is using, however, her mood swings make me believe that she is. I have not seen any evidence and yes I snoop. She seems to make a effort not to be in the room with me when she is as home and when she is her temper is explosive or she’s crying and depressed.

nitin garg says:
June 5th, 2012 at 11:33 am

please send a letter to your friend telling him dangers of drug addiction

Jerry Otero says:
June 6th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Dear Tammy,

The research on teenage drug abuse now shows us that a great many children who use drugs, also suffer from other internalizing disorders like major depression, generalized anxiety disorders, and post- traumatic stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are also prevalent among drug–using teens.

Unfortunately however, it is the externalizing disorders, like conduct problems, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity that get noticed – demanding our attention with their attendant explosiveness, school and other social role failures. These behaviors can be better understood as a part of the constellation of co-existing symptoms that characterize these teens’ lived experience.

This is not to say that their behavior is to be excused (much of what you write about is entirely unacceptable behavior), but it is simply to say that certain teens need a psychiatric evaluation or another intervention to better understand and help them to manage these symptoms.

In addition to the above there are alternatives to the scolding, nagging, begging, bribing or detaching and other usual tactics that people use to try to get their loved ones to stop using. These can not only improve the quality of your own life, they can also help you to make recovery more attractive to your daughter than continuing to use.

To that end, I invite you to call us at the Parent Helpline (number below), where you can talk to a specialist who can help you to begin the process of figuring out how you and your daughter influence each other and how that pattern can be modified to achieve different results.

The phone call is free and anything you discuss will be held in the strictest of confidence.

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

tammy nick says:
June 8th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Thank you Mr. Otero, and I will call.

Gail Donaldon says:
June 20th, 2012 at 2:47 am

My son is now 5 days in a rehab in California he is 30. I live in Oregon. My son has been drinking and using drugs of some sort since he was in his early teens. I divorced his father when my son was about 2, his father was a drug alcohol addict , I wanted to get my then two sons away from the insanity. My ex eventually went thru with rehab but stayed very distant and only wanted to be a buddy to his sons.
My son started MIPs till he turned 21 then started the DUII’s. He didn’t have a drivers license again till he was 28. Jail , ankle bracelets, breath machines in car, totaling at least five cars . He moved to Calif when he was 19 got a great job found a wife and eventually my two granddaughters.
His wife left him 4 months ago and the addictions started to get worse or just came to light. He was arrested for felony drugs cocaine one week after his wife left, but she now tells me she found pipes and not for weed in his belongings as well as him moving into the garage. The four months were filled with calls from him telling me that it was all because of what I did to him as a child and then into screams that were not even recognizable. His father said not to intervene he had to hit bottom, every day not nowing if he was dead or alive. Then the call he was arrested again felony meth. His wife is divorcing him and will not let him see his 2 and 4 year old daughters until he goes thru rehab.
That brings me to today, he is in rehab , something I’ve prayed for for 16 years. But what can I do I want to write to him but I don’t want to say the wrong thing. Rehab might work but he might be doing it for selfish reasons instead of getting well.Any advice would be appreciated Gail

tammy nick says:
June 21st, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Gail, give him time. Let him contact you. Whatever his motivation for rehab, at least he’s there.

I wanted to update you all, especially Mr. Otero. I received a visit from social services today. Someone “reported” me for kicking out my daughter and accused me of not providing her with mental help (the caller felt she was mentally unstable). Short version, she not coming back home. She has boderline personality traits (dx 2011), refuses to take meds, etc. A family meeting will be scheduled and I made my concern clear, inpatient residential treatment before she hurts herself, someone else, or gets hurt. I’m good, still taking care of myself and she is still not welcome back.
I’m going to continue to pray for her. Gail, your family is in my prayers.

Sad Sister says:
July 7th, 2012 at 2:53 am

My brother has been struggling with prescription drug addiction since we were in high school. He has finally entered a faith based rehab program after being arrested while passed out in a parking lot. My family has suspected his addiction for years, although he was meticulous in masking his addiction. He is an authentic functioning addict who finally admitted he needs help. Sadly, I live in another state and was not able to see him before he left for his nearly year long program. I wish to convey my message of life long pride and looking up to him, regardless of his habits, as well as a genuine message of love and hope and faith in his recovery. I wish to expose my feelings of hurt and fear and sadness of the years gone by, but without creating a negative ambiance within the letter. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. The message from “Beautiful Boy” definitely struck a cord with this sad sister. I’m thankful he’s alive and pray for an everlasting recovery.

Maggie B says:
August 2nd, 2012 at 1:54 pm

My oldest son is 20 and a chronic alcoholic. He was a talented and gifted child, well-behaved, won sportsman of the year at his school when he was 14. He played football and was often voted man of the match. He started smoking dope at 15 – but gave up at 18 due to psycological problems. His drinking has got heavier and heavier since then and he lives on a bottle of vodka (at least) a day. We have had thousands stolen from our account, his room is a cesspit and his treatment of us all is appalling. He left home 3 weeks ago to doss in a house of dysfunctional alcoholics. We are at a loss and don’t know what to do. He has a superior attitude and tells me, his dad and brother (19) how stupid and timid we all are. BUT we love him and want him to get better and now know it must be through us being tough and saying no in the hope that he will reach a rock bottom that gives him an opportunity to return one day as the wonderful, funny and loving person he once was. We continue to pray for him and I will pray for all of you and your families. I am now going to write him a letter – please God that it has some effect.

Jerry Otero says:
August 2nd, 2012 at 4:06 pm

In the many conversations that I have had with parents and loved ones of those struggling with alcohol,and drugs, the notion of “hitting the bottom” comes up again and again as being the key ingredient that is needed to start the recovery process.

Is this really so, or is it a myth? And, what does it really mean?

It is true that many people with addictions use denial or other avoidant and minimiziming defenses as a way of staying the course for as long as possible, and will only make the positive life changes they need to recover when the pain of using becomes greater than the pain of not using.

But is the idea that people with addictions must have their lives fall apart before they can get better accurate? Can our loved ones be coerced into treatment this way?

It’s been shown that substance abusers who enter in to treatment resultant to being on the recieving end of confrontational interventions that are geared to “raise the bottom” are more likely to relapse than those who were encouraged to get help with less confrontational ways.

There is another way! The problem is that most of us are too mad to see it.

While we at the Parent Helpline are “all inclusive” in our approach to working with parents and loved ones whose children are struggling with addiction and drug abuse, we are most fond of motivational approaches like CRAFT over confrontational ones (like raising the bottom), and find that even when people start out angry, they are more likely to stick to the plan, be consistent, and follow through when they feel that they are actively and positively involved in trying to help their loved ones without detachment or confrontation.

This idea, I am sure is going to raise some eyebrows and cause a stir, so I want to take this time to say that there is no “one size that fits all” nor is there one answer that will work for everyone – there are different kids, different families, different contexts.

That said, the question “what to do with an adolescent using drugs” remains unanswereable in some ways. Just ask any parent who has gone down the “raise the bottom” or “tough love” road, “tried everything” and are still struggling with newer iterations of the same problem.

Keep an eye out for postings about CRAFT and other motivational approaches to helping loved ones get the help they need, and in the interim, why don’t you call me at the Parent helpline (number below) to let us know what you think, or to learn more.

Until then, I wish you all and your families all the best.

Jerry Otero MA
Parent Support Specialist

Dianne says:
August 4th, 2012 at 8:13 am

My son is an alcoholic, i am just about to write him a letter I need to i can’t bare the pain any longer, he is 27 full of potential and wasting away. He was in hospital for 6 weeks last march with a brain hemorage and clots, he was lucky, then lucky again in february of this year with it threatening to hemorage again and landing in hospital; but it doesn’t deter him from getting entoxicated, he just doesn’t take his medication. I have 5 other children from age 3 to 23, i hate to see him in his states last night he came home shuffling like an old man and looked like he had fell a few times on the way home, he couldn’t speak or say anything that sounded like words..I left him on the sofa, got up at 7 this morning and he has gone again. i called him told him I wanted to talk to him today i would call later…so now i am writing ‘The Letter’. I love him so much but i love my other children too, i can help them but i can’t help him till he helps himself.

Jerry Otero says:
August 6th, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Dear Dianne,

Thanks for joining our online community. Your comment is number 36 and counting on this thread. To quote the author of the original post to this blog, Ron Grover – “For a parent, a letter allows a chance to express feelings that they may not be able to say in person. The simple act of sitting down and writing can often be cathartic. There’s something about capturing and sharing the dizzying array of feelings we walk around with – the frustrations, anger, disappointment, hope and love — to your teen or young adult in the written word”.

But, however hopeless as things may seem, it doesn’t have to stop there. While it is true that historically, there have been few options available for individuals seeking to encourage their loved ones suffering from substance abuse to get help, there now exists a way of intervening that can help parents to improve the quality of their own lives and to learn how to make treatment an attractive option for their partners who are substance abusers.

The book “Get Your Loved One Sober” written by Robert Meyers, describes a multi-faceted program that uses supportive, non-confrontational methods to engage substance abusers into treatment. It has been shown to be a remarkably effective and I would welcome a more detailed conversation with you about this.

If you would like to learn more, why don’t you call me (number below). The call is free and anything we discuss will be held in the strictest of confidence.

Jerry Otero MA
Parent Support Specialist

Katie says:
September 8th, 2012 at 4:52 pm

My older brother is an active drug addict. He has been using for the past 17 years. Like most everyone else, I have gone through phases of shock, denial, anger, hurt, and then anger again. The one phase that seems to be permament is the hurt. The pain never goes away. I use to try and convince myself that he was just a bad person and that he didn’t deserve my constant worrying. I even tried to convince myself that he was some sort of psycopath because that was the only way I felt I could move on with my life and stop hurting so much. But the truth is, and was, that he simply is not a bad person; he is just a lost soul with a horrible disease. I recently read the book “Kisses from Katie,” which has nothing to do with addiction but it has helped me tremendously with the realization that it is not my duty to judge my brother, or to save him for that matter. God is the only one that can truly pull my brother out of the depths of this black hole he is in. I now pray to God for him & have made the promise to God that I will no longer judge my brother and if he comes to me for help, I will be there for him. His 35th birthday is approaching & I plan on writing him a letter. He is homeless & I haven’t heard from him in 6 months, but somehow I hope to find him so that I can deliver this unwritten letter. In the letter, I now know that all he needs to hear is that I love him and that I am here for him. In the past I have told him I would help him, only to change my mind at the last minute because I was scared of what helping him would do to my own life. I no longer want to live my life that way; I don’t want to be scared to help him. I want to trust in God that if I bring him into my home, he will not jeapordize my marriage or the life that has been created for me. All of us who love an addict spend our days and nights worrying and brainstorming how we can fix our loved ones. But what if it isn’t up to us, what if God is the one in charge. Why hasn’t that dawned on me in the past. I will now choice to believe in the Lord and I will try to be more understanding of my brother.

sandi says:
September 12th, 2012 at 5:28 pm

my son is 28 today. i think of him as that innocent child but now me and his sister have to deal with a wreckless alcoholic person. frustration because he dont see himself and what he is doing to his 2 yr old son and cant make postive sober decisions. i took on the responsibility of taking him in and his son on his visitations weekends and I’ve become angry with him because he leaves all his problems on me. Me and his sister plan on writing him a letter voicing our concerns and we are not enabling him anymore. time for some real tough love. My soberity cant take it any longer. i worry about him everyday and i know I have to let God take over. its the only way.

Sherri says:
October 2nd, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I wish I knew where to start. My only son Travis, who is now 23, is in a court ordered 90-day program, currently around 63 days in.

Travis…. what to say about him. As I read all these heart felt posts, my heart is so heavy. He like so many of your children was your all American athlete.. 16 years of hockey, 13 years of baseball, 4 years of ROTC, he was the MOST loving, funniest, angelic son a parent could ask for. If you came to my home today, you will see little letters all around.. notes, posts, poems etc that he would always write to me.. HIS MOM. He was with me 24/7, we were inseparable.. Our song was.. HAVE I TOLD YOU LATELY, by Rod Stewart….amazing love…That was the old Travis.. my Travis who is no longer.

Today, Travis is an addict in denial. He like many, has robbed us silly…even the most precious of family items with no regard. He has been abusive, language I cannot even comprehend he would speak to anyone, let alone me.. I have been called in the middle of the night by his ex girlfriend.. only to arrive and find him eyes rolled back, hanging out of his truck… needles. I have had him Sectioned, I have watched him have breakdowns. You name it. I have also watched him transform into a liar, manipulative, selfish and destructive man… I do not know my Travis any more.

He recently showed me a project he did in rehab. It was called the brick wall….It had a good side and a bad side… MOM was listed on both….I asked why.. he said read it …… I was all the good a mom was suppose to be..the one he can always count on.. but on the bad side.. he wrote….She wants me to be the old me…….. my response to him was this…NO TRAVIS.. I DO NOT WANT THE OLD TRAVIS BACK.. that was my son who I loved when he was a child. I do not know you as an adult man, nor do I know you sober in the past 5 years. I find myself looking at you at our visits and feeling so sad that I do not know what to say to you..especially as your mom..I do not know you. What I do wish for you is for you to find who you are, what makes you angry and insecure and what your demons are and to face all of this, so that you can find happiness, so that you can be a dad to your three year old son who adores you and loves you unconditionally. Who ever you wish to be, I love you Travis, I don’t like you at times, but always I love you.

His father who I divorced when he was two, died two years ago this past August…..he was an alcoholic and addict.. He was found at 45.. dead on his couch in Florida… I will never recover fully from this loss, although we divorced many years ago.. we remained very close, even spending vacations together.. He was like another child to me and he had no family….At 19, my sons biggest fear happened and he lost his father. Overdose!!!! This just intensified the use for Travis. In a letter his father had written many years ago….that we found when cleaning his home after his death.. he begged Travis to not follow his path.. to be better than drugs, that he loved Travis more than life, but that he could not be there for him the way Travis deserved, that the drugs controlled him, they masked his demons.

I have been remarried for 20 years.. Travis’s step father has been his FATHER…has had a wonderful life, loving parents, only child, never missed a game, vacations, and so on…When his biological father passed, a part of Travis was lost. The devastation over Travis addiction is so in depth, even to tell you that four hears ago, I had a FUGUE SIEZURE.. my body just shut down from the intense stress……In December of this year, we divorced, but again remain very close.. we will always be a family and will always love Travis…

I tell you so much personal information, because I want to say this……I am slowly learning that Travis choices are not mine and therefore can not impact my relationships or my life. I can not save Travis. I can save me! At 43 I can have my life… hard as it is and as much as I feel at times as though I am selfish and abandoning my son.. I need to save me, find me. My son needs me, he needs my strength, my grandson needs me, ……Don’t let the addiction continue to destruct YOUR LIFE PARENTS…Don;t let anyone judge you or your child, those who don’t live it, do not know…..find something, like this wonderful site, a support group,… something……..find strength in knowing you need YOU to move forward. Enabling is so much a part of addiction.. if we don;t give money, or don’t agree with our addict child, we are NOT failing them….we are gaining strength and we are forcing them to step up. To take responsibility for their actions choices and life.

I am forever changed. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. Travis has chosen Methadone…….I have recently told him, he can not come home on Meth.. my choice.. broke my heart…. but I am not allowing it….I want him home very much, I want to take care of him.. I’m MOM.. but I am not the answer…….Until my son gets to the root of what is inside him, and faces his demons, I can not help him. In the meantime…..I start my first support group in my home next week……….6 moms so far!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That will be some healing for us, while my son is getting the help he needs in rehab.. I am working towards getting the help I need. for now, I sleep well, knowing my son is alive.

Love to you all…………….

Jennifer D says:
November 4th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Thank you all for the posts. I am currently trying to come to terms with my 25 year old daughters addiction and mental problems. She is separated from her husband and father of her 2 boys 6 and 3. She has a huge problem with me, her mom, but won’t tell me what it is. She will not talk to her father or me, but is currently living with her fathers brother. She has been to treatment twice, and her last drug test came back clean! She still will not speak to us. She has a hearing tomorrow regarding a TRO and temporary custody of her children. I am glad that there are others going thru similar issues, as I feel totally alone. Wish me luck that I can deal with what is handed to me, and help my grandsons thru what they are dealing with…

lori says:
January 25th, 2013 at 12:58 am

I love the idea of writing a letter to your child or any loved one who is struggling with drugs. The topic of drugs is dear to me. I recently wrote a book with a dear friend whose son struggled with drugs for ten years. The drain on the family is horrific. Check it out–Surviving the Gauntlet.

Lynn says:
February 6th, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I am so moved and impressed by the courage all of you have to share all your thoughts and feelings. This is my very first time so bear with me. My oldest son is a drug addict. There, I said it. He’s been in an inpatient rehab for two months now. He’d been in one before for a shorter length of time and stayed clean for, he says a year, but I think not, and he’ll be coming back home very soon temporarily, until he finds a place of his own to go. I’ve been asked to write him a letter describing my feelings while he was using and describe his negative behaviors and how they affected me and then I’m supposed to say what would happen if he were to start using again. My first reaction was,”You’re kidding, right?” “I would absolutely die!” But I can’t really say that! Writing a letter should be so easy but I can’t seem to put any of my thoughts together without sounding like a completely hopeless, helpless, broken, scared, lost human being. I mean, that sounds wrong, right? That’s, like, my stuff that I shouldn’t lay at his feet, am I right? I really don’t know what to say. This letter will be shared with his group to be processed together with him. I need help, clearly. I feel just deficient in some way because I can’t even complete this simple task, let alone how I feel about everything else surrounding his addiction. I’m sure you can all imagine. Well, any suggestions would be very helpful and very appreciated. Thank you so much for just taking the time to read this. God bless all of you.

Angela Durand says:
March 3rd, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I always knew I was not alone. I have bruises on my knees from being on my knees praying for my son since he was 16 he is now almost 30. Still alive somehow. Crack is his drug of choice. Good to see others are also surving it… by others I mean the parents. We are the worst casulty of this massive disease. They have a choice to use.. we do not have a choice to be the loved one of a addict. I will visit this site often.Prayers to all parents. Prayers to the lost souls that bring us here for this site of support.

Mary says:
May 14th, 2013 at 3:00 am

I found this website, because I am trying to write a letter to my 20 y/o son, who is in a long-term rehabilitation center in a different state. He has been there for 30 days, so far so good. He is addicted to drugs, and has taken so many hallucinogenics that he has some issues with his brain – he gets flashbacks, has vision problems. When the flashbacks and vision problems start, he has trouble functioning. I am terrified that it may be too late for rehab to help, but am praying that this will work for him. I can’t visit him every week, I did go down for a family counseling session and have seen him once. I hope to go see him once a month. I wish I knew why this happened, he was such a sweet, outgoing and active little boy. Then in his junior year of high school he changed. He drinks until he blacks out, or he takes so many different kinds of drugs. It’s like he’s trying to destroy himself. I just don’t understand it. This is the letter I wrote to him.

Dear Son,

This Mother’s Day, I am remembering the day you were born. You were such a beautiful baby. I remember thinking, the first time I saw you, I know him. You looked so familiar to me, even though I had never seen you before. You were, and are, part of me. But even so, you are your own person, and I’m glad for that. You will make mistakes, and learn from them, and those mistakes will make you into the person you are meant to be. That’s just how we learn. The path you are on is not the easiest one, but it is the path to the person you are meant to be. Even when you were little, I knew you would never take the easy way. You were always such an independent little guy. You never cared what other people thought, or what other people expected. It would always be your way, not the easiest way.

Just remember that I love you, no matter what. I love you for what you are, and what you will be. I pray that you will be healthy and happy. It may take some time and work, but I have no doubt that you will get there. You come from strong stock. Your grandmother was the strongest person I have ever known. She had a difficult life, but she was the best mother I could have hoped for. I hope I have been half as good a mother to you. You remind me of her, your strength, your sense of self. I believe you will grow into the man you are meant to be. I am so proud of what you are doing. It took a lot of courage to take that first step, to go into treatment. I miss you, but I’m so happy that you are where you are.

Let me know if you need anything, and call when you can. I Love You So Much!

sandy says:
June 3rd, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I am a recovering alcoholic of 26 years and am facing my daughter’s drinking head on. She is 42 with a wonderful husband and 5 year old daughter. We are spending the summer “up north” and have for the past several years. She is not a daily drinker and is an “at home” drinker, usually nighttime after my granddaughter is down for the night. Her husband is a big time enabler who denies the situation most times. He works out of town a lot during this time of the year which gives her much time to drink alone.

When she drinks she becomes a “phone warrier”. Funny, I was too during my drinking career! And one of her favorite people to call is me, although I have, in the past, asked her not to do this and have told her that as soon as she says “HI” I know if she’s been drinking. Last night she called, after drinking no doubt, and said her husband had pulled her aside to tell her that while he’s out of town this week, she MUST “pull herself” together. I think he was talking about her drinking, she believes he was talking about a recent loss of her 1/2 brother, 18, who recently killed himself.

I am in the process of writing a letter to her about this issue. I will post it when done. I want our summer to be happy and a peaceful time. The only way to protect myself is to lay down some guidelines for myself. I want to spend LOTS of time with the granddaughter but don’t want to get pulled into the drama of her mother’s drinking. I should mention that my daughter can get caught up in the past about my drinking and lack of parenting when she was a child and try to pound me over the head with those facts. I feel I have made my amends to her many years ago and live those amends by being the best mother and grandmother I know how to be. And I am not bad at it!! hehe No more apologies are owed in my opinion.

Lots of pain and trepidation on my part!! Wish me luck and good fortune with this endeavor.

Vim says:
July 24th, 2013 at 3:50 am

We have a lovely, kind 35 year old son who is an alcoholic. I have read most of the articles here and find them very helpful.

I have been thinking of writing to my son like so many of you here have done.

It has been very worrying right now as he just drinks whisky and hardly eats any food.

Really don’t know what to do. Have thought of intervention with the help of his GP.

Pernilla says:
September 10th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Dear Mary- your letter shows such love and compassion that it breaks my heart. In no way, do you blame and show any anger for what your son has become. You are just there loving him. It is beautiful. I hope you did send the letter and that your son is on a road to recovery.

Dear Sandy- I am also in recovery 15 years and fear just what you are exeprinecing with my own daugthers. Is your daughter open to discuss her illness, is there a possibility that you and her husband could have a serious talk with her about her illness?

Dear Vim- please call the helpline here at the partnership for – 1-855-DRUGFREE and speak to one of our trained clinician- they can help guide in what steps to take.

Thanks for sharing all of you, please visit our community website


Kathy says:
October 6th, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I wrote a letter to my 27 year old alcoholic son today. I tucked it away for now because I am not sure where he will end up. Last night he was arrested on a DUI. He has been in trouble many times. I have had many phone calls from police departments. We have your son, they always say. He has been through many programs and done well but he slides back. He said to me one time “mom I don’t want to be like this.” I know he feels that way. But the alcohol is stronger than his good intentions. He hurts himself and everyone around him every time he goes to jail. Will it ever end? Yes, but how will it end is the scary part. I am so very sad for him and I cannot help him. He must figure it out or not. All I can do is cry and pray. What next God? I love my son so much. The good part of him is so precious, but my other 22 year old son deserves my attention. He did not get the attention he deserved when he was young because he was good. He has held me when I was crying over his brother. I call him “The Voice Of Reason” he would say mom you are doing the right thing by calling the police when his messed up brother was screaming and punching holes in our walls. He would say “We can’t let him destroy our lives” . Now I am living in a far away place taking care of my elderly mom. I can’t talk to him. I can’t say I love you to him. So, I wrote the letter. It helped me cry. It helped me think. What could I have done different when he was younger. Maybe a lot of things, but that does not mean he would not be an alcoholic today. He is an adult that thinks like a child. When I figure out where he ends up the letter will go to him. Should I be carefull what I say? Should I tell him how I have been hurting for him for years. Probably. Thank you all for your brillant thoughts. For my heart is breaking for my son. It is pain I would not have imagined when he was a vibrant little boy. But I must rememember he is a man. Only he can decide to beat this.

Pernilla says:
October 10th, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Dear Kathy- thank you for sharing with us. You are a brave mother and have had to go through something that is harder than anyone can imagine. How lucky that you have your younger son that can be of support to you and understand what you are going through. Addiction doesn’t strike a particular person, it can take anyone don’t think that there’s anything that you could have done differently. I urge you to call the helpline here at the partnership for at 1-855-DRUGFREE, we have trained counselors here every day speaking with mothers just like you, and it might be nice to just speak to someone who understands and might offer some guidance. Also, visit a community of parents speaking to each other of how to get through this tragic path.
You are in my prayers,
Community Mgr TTGH

Joan says:
December 31st, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I have one son. He is almost 40. We have always been close. He is the most important thing in my life. However, this past year we have had several confrontations that end up with periods of estrangement. I’ve noticed that he has been going to bars at lunchtime during the week. He also started buying liquor at the ABC stores a couple times a month. His grandfather, grandmother and uncle were alcoholics. I have always abstained from drinking because the thought of following in their footsteps scares me to death. I’ve talked to my son several times about his drinking and its relation to being genetically and environmentally induced. He does not want to hear about it and has decided that he just wants me to be his friend and stop trying to teach him a lesson. He said he is having a fine life and that he is NOT an alcoholic. But his severe mood swings make me believe otherwise. He started breaking his promises and appointments with me. He is never on time. Now he is avoiding me and the rest of the family. Every time I contact him and ask him if he wants to go to dinner or a movie, he gives an excuse. It did not used to be that way until this past year. By the way, he has been dating a girl for the last three years. She is at least five years older than him. Her lifestyle and job is such that they are both immersed in the drinking lifestyle socially. Although I like her, I don’t know if I trust that she has my son’s best interest at heart. Now, I feel like I am losing him to addiction. He sends abusive texts messages to me when I try to express my feelings or concerns and he never, ever apologizes. I don’t know if drugs are involved and have never seen any evidence of that. I think he is going through some kind of “mid life crisis”, and I DO believe that alcohol has got a hold on him. I don’t know what else to do. Every time I try to talk to him, it ends up in hard feelings. He is very intelligent, with two degrees, and holds a good job. Emotionally, however, he is all over the place. He never seems satisfied with himself or his accomplishments. I think he is embarrassed to be around me in public. I am a “nobody”. His girlfriend knows many people and business owners, and some are pillars of the community. She lives a few towns over from me. Again, I don’t know how to handle this. Should I just let him go?

Geneva says:
January 20th, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Happened onto this site in search of help to know what to say to my grown son (married with children and grandchildren of his own) who is in a drug rehab center in another state. I like the idea of writing letters; was once in a group where we used “dialoguing” as the best form of communication. I know I (as well as his wife) have enabled him over the years in one way or another. I feel so helpless and hopeless today because she text me that he was having a really bad day today (cutting down on suboxone). His addiction is to pain meds. He has real pain: was in an auto accident that one would believe no way to survive, but he did. He has a broken jaw and vertebra in his neck that has not been “fixed.” He told me himself however, that his mind set has been that if one helps, two is better. I love him so much and pray for his complete recovery. His wife accuses me of “babying” him as the cause of his addiction. She rarely has a kind word to say to him. She sent me really nasty texts, but then after he was in treatment, has been “nice,” but has never said a word about the hateful things she said to me, one of which was that he needed to suffer the way he had caused them to suffer, and that she was just going to “drop him off.” I feel like a doormat, but don’t know whether to go around her and send a letter or not. Right now, am just praying for God’s guidance in the situation. Thanks for all the letters and suggestions. I have been searching for an online support group.

Diane says:
January 21st, 2014 at 4:23 pm

My daughter is 35 and is in her 6th rehab, none of which she voluntarily entered. Her addictions are compounded by a bipolar disorder (or maybe that should be the other way around.) For the last year her addictions have spiraled out of control. In addition, she refused to take medicine for the bipolar disorder. I became fearful for my physical safety. My emotional/mental safety had already been compromised by her constant badgering and manipulation. She has been in treatment since January 16. Today she will probably receive this, my letter of letting go:

Dear L___,
Writing this letter is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m sure by now your social worker has told you not to contact me. Our relationship has become so co-dependent and increasingly intertwined that we are literally strangling the life out of each other. This toxic relationship of mistrust, resentment, and negative emotions has overshadowed the goodness that was once between us.
This is the only course open to us now: a detachment of love and not of anger or spite. It may seem heartless but ultimately it is the only loving, healthy, and hopeful step I can take for us both. Now is the time for you to learn responsibility for your self. I will be 68 this year and must put my focus on getting myself healthy and well physically, emotionally, and financially. You must learn to do the same for yourself…without resorting to the plea of, “Mom! What am I supposed to do?”
Learn everything you can while in rehab and make plans now for when you are released because I am no longer your safety net. You will not be welcome back into my home, on my property, or contact me in any way. You are not welcome in my life until you are successfully living a life of recovery and self-suffiency on your own.
My years of enabling and over-mothering you, my beloved daughter, have only harmed your journey to adulthood. This is why I am stepping aside and out of your life to allow you the opportunity to grow and become the wonderful person you are meant to be.
I will not take any calls from you nor read any letters you write to me. Our journey…separate journeys…begins today. Focus your energies on learning all you can from the able and well-qualified staff. Begin today making plans for your life after you are released. My last piece of mother-advice would be for you to find a group-homelike setting for awhile so you can begin learning how to function responsibally and soberly in society and get on your feet.
My precious daughter, I cannot make you well. I cannot solve your problems. I am not your caretaker. What I can and will do is care about you, love you, and let you go. I am not responsible for you in any way other than to pray for you and lift you up to Jesus for his healing in your life. Your life is in your hands, and with Jesus’ help you will move forward.
I love you,

Joe says:
January 27th, 2014 at 1:57 am

I have read many posts and letters and find it heart breaking because I’m also a dad with a daughter who is a binge drinker. She doesn’t see ot as a problem. It has lead to domestic from her alcoholic boyfriend who fathered my wonderful 3 yr old grandson. He is in jail for now and I am desperate to get my daughter headed in the right direction during his absence but she swings back & forth between great weeks to drunken weekends and it scares me beyond expression. Her mother and I are divorced but have an open line of communication which is almost always about our daughter and her sad, scary lifestyle. I’m considering a letter soon…hope I’m not too late.

diane says:
February 9th, 2014 at 12:05 am

I`ve been sitting here reading all these stories and it`s just heartbreaking. I too have a daughter who is 33 and an addict.She was a beautiful blonde haired blue eyed cheerleader. still is a beautiful girl, but an addict She takes pills. Any pills she gets her hands on.Xanax and Vicodin are her favs. She started stealing them while in her teens from my husband after having surgery. When she was 19 she was in a bad car accident adding more pain meds to her already increasing addiction. She then moved out west and married. I thought all was well til her arrest in ’07 when she tried to alter the amount on a pill bottle. She was givin probation and almost made it through but was arrested again for probation violation in ’08. She had been testing dirty for months.She served two years in prison.Along the way she had two children.Her ex has one and I have adopted the other, a five year old girl.She got out of prison in ’10 and came home to live here with us. Since then she has gone back to using the pills. She can`t hold a job, does dispicable things with guys to get her pills, ignoes her children, lives with whoever will have her and creates drama everywhere she goes. She is now snorting the pills. She also is in denial that she even has a problem,lies constantly and steals. I am so tired of dealing with it. She moved out in the middle of the night a couple days ago, leaving me to tell her daughter the next morning. I am done dealing with her and my job is to protect her daughter so I will not allow her to come back here.I am considering a letter but I know it won`t help.

W.G. says:
February 19th, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Reading these posts have helped me as a mother of a 24 year old alcoholic son. He has been doing really well for the past year – working and just started taking classes, but I know he’s started drinking again. I decided to write a letter, but having a hard time with the words. While these postings helped me with my feelings they haven’t helped me with the right words. I suppose they’ll come in time. My heart aches for each and every one of you out there that are dealing with a child or loved one that has an addiction. I never knew my heart could be so heavy as it has been in dealing with him since he was 15. He has come far, but I know his struggle is daily. I just have to remember to love him, but also let go as I have allowed his struggle to effect my life. Will continue to pray form us all.

Susan says:
February 22nd, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I appreciate this website and the guidance it provides. Drawing from some of the experiences and examples each of you have provided, this morning I drafted the following letter to my son:


As your mom, who is worried about you and trying desperately to figure out how to help you, I was shocked when a sudden thought entered and paralyzed my mind: Ethan could die. Yes, if he continues down this current path, I think, Ethan could die.

I stop for a moment, feeling the full weight of that thought pressing on my chest and a fresh batch of tears welling in my eyes. Surely you know that nothing could ever replace you in my life. I would miss your phone messages, hanging out together, your clever sense of humor, your kind gentle eyes and your tender, half-smile that can brighten any room. If I were to lose you, it would leave a permanent hole in my heart and a deep crack in my soul. I would never fully recover. Your brother, your father, our entire family and your friends, we would all grieve. And I, as your mother, would grieve forever. You told me that you feel like you’re only living for us. I want more than that for you, but you need to know that numbing yourself with alcohol is not the answer, or the life we want for you!

I am terrorized by the fear of what might happen if you continue down the path that lead to your DUI. I’m afraid that you will listen to those around you that make this entire situation out to be a small thing. It’s no small thing, my sweet son, it’s your future. More importantly, it’s about YOU! The kind-natured, smart cracking, intelligent person that you are, with a great sense of humor, wisdom beyond his years, and a generous heart…he WILL die if you let alcohol or even anxiety and depression become a regular part of your life. Allowing that, even in small doses, is what opens the door to letting it consume you completely, in affect destroying you and taking my son away.

As frightened as I am at the thought that you could die, I am more fearful of having to grieve you while you are still living! I’ve watched your Grandma anguish, cry, and grieve over Uncle Tim since drugs and alcohol took over. He was just a kid when he started drinking, then “graduated” to drugs to try to sustain the high booze no longer provided. He never thought he had a problem, he always thought he could control it. He became angry, sullen, closed off, and resented it when any of us tried to help save him from certain destruction. He’s been on that path for over 30 years now, in and out of countless rehab programs, and I’ve tried to help him time and time again too. But, as you’ve seen, the destruction addiction and self-loathing causes is like a powerful tornado that will pull in and destroy everyone around him too. And so, his mother, his father, his brothers and sisters, his son and his true friends, we grieve him every day. The friends that pressured him to join them for “just one drink, just one hit” ~ who wanted him to be just as lost as they were ~ many of them are already in the graveyard, or in jail. Tim is just a ghost of the person he used to be. He remains an angry, self-destructing force in his own life. It started with a drink or two to relax because he couldn’t or wouldn’t handle the stress and anxiety building inside him. Instead of finding positive ways to deal with that pressure or to release the feelings he could not express, he made a fatal decision to mask his pain using alcohol and ultimately drugs. It only helped for a while though, then brought with it a whole new set of problems: guilt, shame, self-loathing, addition…and we lost him for good. Maybe even forever, only he can decide now. And so his mother, your grandmother, grieves for him, but continues trying to reach him, to help him find his way back.

But I am your mother….

I will fight for you! I will not willing surrender you to anything less than a life of happiness and personal satisfaction…a life of your choosing. I meant it when I told you that you don’t belong in the court house waiting to see the D.A. or judge, allowing them to determine your fate. You don’t belong in jail. I will not grieve for you while you are still living! And I’m not letting you go anywhere for a long, long time either!

Mom and God are in your corner!

We’re in this together, Ethan. I may annoy and irritate you. (I’m pretty sure I already do!) But I will guide, encourage, support, and flat out push you toward a whole, healthy life and will help you figure out who you are and what you want. And while I believe that you must face the consequences of your actions ~ in all things ~ I promise you that you will never face them alone. I am here for you. You are never alone…even when you wish I’d just stop. I’ll try to be sensitive to your need for “time out,” but it’s important for me to say, and for you to know, that I will NEVER give you up.

I will not stand by as you stand on the railroad tracks with a train barreling straight toward you and watch as it overtakes you. I will throw you a lifeline, I will try to redirect the train, I will try to shield you from the blinding light that lulls you, and I will jump onto the rails next to you and push you off the tracks….I will do whatever it takes to save you! I will fight for you always, and I will never give you up. To do so would mean my death as well…

But we will get through this…it won’t be quick, it won’t be painless, but with God’s help, we WILL get through this!

Will you meet me in the middle?

I love you, to the moon and the stars, more than you’ll ever, ever know….

I love you!!


Justine says:
April 4th, 2014 at 6:57 am


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