My Experience With My Daughter’s Recovery

As I have written about many times, watching someone you love struggle with drugs and alcohol is incredibly painful, frustrating and confusing. And while I don’t have children of my own, I would imagine that as a parent that pain, frustration and confusion is only magnified.

While I don’t have first hand experience watching my own child struggle with addiction, I do have first hand experience BEING that child. So I decided to interview my mother, Debbi, to find out her experience having a daughter in active addiction, and now in recovery.

Deanna: Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me about this, Mom. I just have a few questions for you. What was it like when you realized that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol and needed help?

Debbi: It felt unreal. We had done all the “right” things bringing you up. Done the right things, said the right things. And still this happens. It was devastating to realize you had such a problem.

Deanna: Was it hard for you to come to terms with the fact that your daughter was an alcoholic? Were you afraid of what other people might think?

Debbi: It was extremely difficult. I tried to reason in my head that something else was going on. That maybe it was a phase or it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

In the beginning, I definitely cared what people thought. There were so many things running through my head: “Here, my second daughter with a substance abuse problem. It must be me. Something I did or didn’t do. This is my fault. What will everyone think of me as a parent?” I was definitely afraid of judgment.

Deanna: How do you feel recovery has changed our relationship?

Debbi: Recovery had changed out relationship because it has changed the both of us. You are a different person. You are still (and always will be) my sweet, little girl, but you have a new zest and respect for life. I’m different because I’m not in fear anymore: fear of what might happen to you, fear of judgment from others, fear of your addiction. I feel that our relationship is coming from an honest and authentic place now and it’s really wonderful.

Deanna: How do you feel recovery has changed me as a person?

Debbi: You are living your life authentically and with such a respect, reverence and love for life on life’s terms. You see the beauty in the everyday. You cherish the simple things. You forgive the petty. You are an inspiration. And the ways that you have changed have an impact on those around you. You are teaching me how to live a joyous life.

Deanna: What advice would you give to other parents who have children struggling with drugs and alcohol?

Debbi: Don’t ever give up on your children. SO many told us to let go, to let you sink to rock bottom. So many said, “tough love.” All I could do was love you from a distance and pray everyday. It was incredibly difficult but I had to let go of thinking that I could change you or the situation. Love your children but let go of trying to think you have any control, because in all honesty, you have none. Each person makes choices in their lives which are truly their own. You cannot love a child to sobriety – believe me, I tried. But there is always, always hope.

Deanna: Thank you so much, Mom. It means the world to me that you never gave me on me. I love you. Thanks for everything you do.


  • Debbie O-A
    Posted at 08:42h, 26 December Reply

    This is a touching interview and I can relate to the words spoken by Debbi. It could have been mine! You are right, we can’t love our children to sobriety. But that doesn’t stop us from trying. Thank you!

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