Dear Annie: You recently printed a letter from two physicians with an alcoholic daughter. Al-Anon is the organization that supports friends and families of alcoholics, and Alcoholics Anonymous is support for the individual with a drinking problem. You recommended Alcoholics Anonymous.
We were in this couple’s shoes recently. Our daughter finally saw an addiction specialist, who prescribed a once-a-month shot to eliminate the desire for alcohol. She took the shot for a year, and it was expensive, but it worked. It’s been three years now, and she has no desire to drink. The shot saved her life.
I am sending this letter in the hope that other families can learn of this life-changing, once-a-month shot.
— A Relieved Mother
Dear Relieved Mother: Thank you for sharing a suggestion that saved your daughter’s life. Hopefully, it can help others struggling in similar situations.
The next letter is from another reader whose family also struggled with addiction.
Dear Annie: I want to address the physicians whose daughter is experiencing advanced alcoholism. Advising that she must “reach a bottom” is conventional wisdom, and it has its place. I would add that empirical studies of alcoholism and addiction have shown that many people recover in stages as their motivation increases.
An excellent source is the book “Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change” by Jeffrey Foote, Carrie Wilkens, Nicole Kosanke and Stephanie Higgs.
I have found help with my approach to my loved ones in Al-Anon, and I am a 12-stepper myself for food addiction. Beyond my own experience, I was encouraged when I learned that there are ways that family members can help, besides waiting for the alcoholic or addict to reach a bottom.
In my case, there was heroin addiction in my adult child. A lot of times, this addiction will kill a person before he or she “hits bottom.”
I learned ways to change my own attitudes and behaviors. I was helped also by the Center for Motivation and Change in New York City, which made available to me trained lay counselors over the phone for free. They can be found online.
I was not the cause of my adult child’s recovery; that is between the person and God. But I was able to help, and there were moments when I was the catalyst for a step in the right direction.
I am grateful today that my child lives with sobriety, grateful more than I can express.
My heart goes out to other parents and partners of suffering people. I have intact adult children and a beautiful grandchild.
— A Friend in Pennsylvania
Dear Friend in Pennsylvania: Thank you for your letter. It brings up an important flaw in the “hit bottom” theory, which is that by the time some people reach it, it is too late for them.
My hope is that anyone struggling feels your friendship and hope for them that they have the courage to change.
Dear Annie: This is for the woman whose husband cheated on her with his bookkeeper. I heard this many years ago: “Trust is lost in buckets and won in drops.”
— Trust Again
Dear Trust Again: Very true words.
Dear Annie: Loved the idea of giving the cellphone a rest for a few days. When we were raising our kids, my wife and I had what we called “pioneer night.”
Once a month, we would shut the power off in the house for a few hours. We shut everything down but the fridge. And yes, we were careful with the candles.
This practice allowed us to have some good quality time together. I miss those pioneer nights at times.
— Pioneer Nights
Dear Pioneer: Thank you for your letter. I love your family tradition of literally unplugging everything. Maybe when the kids and grandkids come to visit, you can have another pioneer night.
I hope your letter inspires other families to do the same.
Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.