A Mother’s Perspective: From Feeling Helpless to Experiencing Hope

I contemplated whether or not I wanted to write about a personal issue involving opiate addiction.  Thinking about disclosing to not only my friends but the world how devasted and helpless I felt the day my son told me he struggled with addiction. I stopped breathing for a split second although it felt like a lifetime. What did I just hear him say? How could it be? How didn’t I see this?

I felt like a lightbulb just turned on in my head.  All the times, I had a sense that something was wrong. He was sleeping too long. His skin looked yellow. He was not motivated to pursue any form of employment or activity. I would ask him over and over again if everything was okay, he of course would say yes. As a parent I’m sure you have experienced wanting to pursue answers to your observations only to find that your child would get angry and accuse you of not trusting them. Then those feelings of guilt would take over, “how could I do this to them? Why am such a bad mom?†Clearly this is codependency. I’m a therapist, how can I be codependent. I support clients in overcoming their codependent behaviours, but here I am, a co-dependent.

So once my son finally broke through his shame and told me, a roller coaster ride began.  Each day was filled with fear, anger, sadness, guilt. I walked on egg shells in my house. He was never violent or abusive towards me. If he was, it would have been easier to be tougher on him.  My son has a heart of gold. If you meet him once, he will remember you and greet you with a smile and handshake or a hug if you are a female (a friend of mine). He is sensitive and loves his dog like a newborn loves his mommy.

My son has suffered many traumas. At the age of 14 his little friend died unexpectedly. Before, I go on, I will mention that at the age of 16, his Dad and I separated. His best friend was killed in a boating accident at the young age of 21. According to my son, this is where his story began. I will not provide details of his journey as that is his story to share.

The purpose of this topic is to let parents know that there is no research that will provide the most successful way to parent a child with an addiction.  As a parent, you may have kicked your child out of the home, that is okay.  I kicked my child out as well.  That lasted about 2 weeks, he asked to stay over on the weekend.  I said yes, he later told me that he had a bad feeling of something happening if he had stayed where he was.  I took him back, I didn’t want the addiction to get a complete hold on him. Living with me, held him somewhat accountable for his whereabouts, etc. So whatever decision you make is the right decision for you and no one else.

The roller coaster ride has slowed down.  Sometimes, I ride it and other times I get off.  We are on a path moving forward, it is not easy.  I need to stay in the moment and trust that my son is on the right path.  I get triggered each day by something that relates to him and the past floods to the present. I feel guilty at these times. As a parent I should trust my child; however, this has been the most challenging time of my life.  As a cancer survivor, I would rather undergo chemo therapy again rather than watch my child suffer from an addiction.

The best compliment from my son most recently was, “thanks Mom for never giving up on meâ€.

© Maria DeRubeis 2019


  1. Peoplepuzzlepieces on February 11, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    This is such an important subject for people to look at. Although I’m not a parent myself I can imagine that it would be heart wrenching to go through such a painful experience with your child. Kudos to you for sharing your journey.

    • Maria DeRubeis on February 11, 2019 at 8:53 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time providing feedback.

  2. Marisa on February 12, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    You have been a rock, Maria … your unconditional love for your lovely son has most likely given him hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your son has a heart of gold and when I met him the first time I sensed the humble in him. Because of you, his loving mom, I have much faith in him overcoming his vulnerability and one day he too will help others ❤️ This is how I see his path to recovery. Have faith in him and he will have faith in himself ❤️

  3. Marisa S. on February 12, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    The most important things are the hardest to articulate. Thank you for your courage to open up about this. Our children are our hearts walking outside of our bodies so I can only imagine how challenging this decision to share must have been. I have seen friends and family members struggle as parents with their own child’s additions and they suffered in silence. One was afraid of how others would judge her, one was afraid that it would affect his business if he shared his story, so he did not. They suffered in silence and as a parent, I understand this. Your son is blessed to have you and your clients are all the more lucky because of your courage. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Ted on February 13, 2019 at 2:06 am

    Hope~ Faith ~ Love
    Your story is inspiring.
    Thank you for your courage to share.

  5. Margaret on February 14, 2019 at 2:19 am

    This story has touched my heart ❤ I would not wish this addiction on anyone. I have been there and done that. The BEST thing is he has is his mother you will see him through this ROAD. So sad to think I have been there and I know exactly how u you feel. God bless you and him!!! I like the ending cause it sounds familiar you never gave up on me. So POWERFUL!! Wishing him the best in life and you the strength to deal with it all . Love ❤ Margaret

  6. Aaron on February 14, 2019 at 2:37 am

    Amazing article. Addiction and mental illness cannot be pushed under the carpet anymore. There has to be more education on these topics starting at a young age

  7. Aaron on February 14, 2019 at 3:02 am

    Amazing article. Addiction is something that needs to be discussed and understood more now then ever, along with mental illness. Education on these topics is needed for everyone in all age groups to help prevent and realize the consequences. Great read.

  8. Alex on February 22, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    My second mother,
    I can only imagine the number of people reading your story and feeling the same. You are helping more people than you realize. I am thankful to have had your family in my life since I was 4 and Brycen was in diapers. You are all beautiful and loving people.
    You are an amazing mom – thank you for being you.
    Love you & big hugs (always)

  9. SEO Referral Program on January 23, 2020 at 2:02 pm

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