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Melva Sherwood of Vermilion, Ohio, got that unimaginable call on October 3, Her son Andrew, 27 at the time, died of an overdose of heroin.

It was his son's fifth birthday. Melva Sherwood's son Andrew died from a heroin overdose in October He was I was sound asleep and it was October. All the windows were open, and the entire neighborhood knew what had happened," said Sherwood, who says she screamed "at the reality of it, that it was over, that it was done.

Many mothers immediately beat up on themselves when they learn their children are battling addiction. Brenda Stewart of Worthington, Ohio, says it was heartbreaking realizing two of her three kids were addicts. Her son Jeremy, now 29, used prescription drugs and then heroin, and the drug of choice for Richard, now 31, was crystal meth, she said.

Mother’s Memoir of Son’s Opioid Addiction Offers Hope

Brenda Stewart with her sons Richard and Jeremy, who both battled addiction and are now doing well. It's just like, 'What did I do? And that's the hardest thing to get away from because you always feel responsible. Debbie Gross Longo, whose son started using drugs at 13 and taking prescription drugs at 15, says the powerlessness of being an addict's mom is worse than people might imagine. Debbie Gross Longo's son started taking prescription drugs at Viewing addiction as a disease was instrumental, many mothers say, in helping understand they didn't cause their child's addiction and couldn't fix it either.

Being an addict's mom: 'It's just a very, very sad place'

Sadly, the stigma of having a child with addiction is all too real and incredibly painful. Announce to your community your child has a disease like cancer and people will jump to help, said mothers I interviewed. Not so when you tell them your child is an addict. Nobody has bumper stickers on their car," said Theodosiou. Her son Daniel was in the church group.

He was completely not invited anywhere. Every mom I spoke with talked about the intense struggle between supporting their addicted child or children and not enabling their destructive habit.


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It is "the hardest thing in the entire world," said Theodosiou, who said it was only after seven years and plus stints in rehab that she knew she had to make a drastic change. You need to let Daniel go. You need to just stop. I had to actually face leaving Daniel on the street," she said. Sherwood, who lost one son to a drug overdose and has another son who battled drug addiction, said she was never able to cut off her children completely, but she set limits.

Melva Sherwood's son Aaron works full-time in marketing and sales and may pursue a career in nutrition. This is what you can do. Here are your options but I'm not going to sit here and let you take advantage of me and lie to me," said Sherwood, who is a registered nurse and the owner of a business providing caregivers for in-home assisted living. Stewart, whose two sons were addicts, said she eventually realized the longer she enabled her children, the longer they weren't going to face the consequences.

But the enabling isn't just about the addicts, said Stewart. About effectively helping, and about enabling. Tough love.


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  • Hitting bottom. You will undoubtedly recognize your own efforts as a parent as you travel this journey with me. I know your heart is breaking. This is the story of my journey as the Mom of a hard-core addict, navigating the road of his addiction.

    NPR Choice page

    June talks about when she started noticing her son stuck in active addiction she saw 2 different people in him, one being the kind son who would take care of his mom and tell her to not work so hard and who was healthy, on the other side when he was using drugs he would swear at her and tell her he hopes she dies. June also touched on the fact that she knew her son was very different, and his behavior was switch on and switch off when he was not using. She talks about after every overdose she would have done anything to get him the help he needed at that time but now realizes that she was way stronger than she would of ever thought she could have been if her son did not go through addiction.

    She talks about how she realized that whatever works for one person may not work for another, abstinence works for many people and a 12 step program but for other people methadone and suboxone might work for other people. Josh is our personal story segment this week.

    See a Problem?

    His clean date is July 27 th , Josh participates in a 12 step program and after 14 years he still attends 12 step meetings regularly. I practically underlined the whole book because, as a recovering addict myself, her narrative spoke directly to me. Her story is full of life lessons for anyone who has a pulse — powerful anecdotes on how to lower expectations, walk through fear, ask for support, let go of control, hang on to hope.

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    Her insights are universal to everyone because the book is primarily about her journey of shedding shame and guilt to make room for a bolder kind of love. She writes:. I made all the classic mistakes that parents with addicted sons and daughters make. Out of love and desperation, I kept trying to control a situation that was totally out of my control. I ached to find both a cause and a cure I was incapable of finding. Jacob and I were finally and fully leading separate lives. I had to accept that my son was no longer a child….

    I also had to acknowledge that he was starting his recovery, and I was starting mine. We were two travelers, each toting a bag packed with fears and anxieties about the future.