Dear Moms (who always understand),

You know dedication. You know what it is to persevere through long nights with a sick toddler, simultaneously overwhelmed and impressed by the amount of bodily fluids a 2-year-old can produce. You know what it feels like to work without rest, hopping from your first job to the second, and then on to the school play without missing a beat. You know what it is go hungry while little mouths slurp down the last of this week’s groceries.

You’re a superhero in your own right, and your devotion knows no bounds. But you also know addiction in ways that others never will: You get an otherworldly high from seeing your child sound out the letters of the word “dog.” You sink into a massive low when your son falls off his bike and skins his knee — but you never let him see how much it hurts you. And you go through withdrawal every day when your daughter gets on the school bus and waves goodbye to go learn her times tables.

But that’s not all you know about addiction. Maybe you know what it is to lie listless in a pale fog of Xanax-laced relief. Maybe you know what it is to tuck your child in it at night before tucking away bottles of booze at a time. Or maybe you know what it is to see your own child in anguish from cocaine-induced anxiety. Maybe you know what it’s like to live with someone battling addiction — an unrecognizable form of the man who stood across from you at the altar years ago. Or maybe you are one of the countless moms who knows what it is to stand behind your child in court as they face heroin charges. Addiction can touch anyone, and when it touches your own family, you fight back with everything in your soul.

You know things that can only be learned the hard way. Looking back, you wonder how you got here. Maybe addiction is in your DNA. Maybe your father raged against the family as he threw back beers. Maybe your first love left you forlorn enough to try the stuff you always said you wouldn’t. Maybe you felt unnatural empathy when you saw him stick a needle into his arm for the first time. Maybe your child picked it up from the neighborhood kids. Or maybe your daughter made a single mistake that she’ll regret for years to come, changing the course of her life in the blink of an eye.

No matter where or how it started, you know that there is a way out from the darkness surrounding the person you would give your own life for. You know that there is always something better around the corner worth fighting for. You’ll fight for your child and for yourself, because neither can stand without the other. You’ll be selfless and selfish at the same time, because you can only help others by helping yourself. You’ll break the mold to create your own life, because that’s the only way to live free from the constraints of the past — that’s what mothers do.

Your experience with addiction, whether it be your own, your child’s or that of someone else in your life, has made you a stronger mother. Your history has made you more understanding, more patient and more compassionate. Like any child who’s stepped away from their mom at the grocery store understands, being lost doesn’t last forever when you have a mother ready to sacrifice everything.

To all the moms who know addiction in one way or another, there is a thread of camaraderie between your stories of bravery. Thank you for your resilience. Thank you for your determination. Thank you for showing us a true, forever love that is stronger than the binds of any substance or disease. Happy Mother’s Day.

We love you, Mom.

Your sons, daughters and spouses at The Recovery Village

a woman with long brown hair smiling at the camera.
By – Renee Deveney
As a contributor for Advanced Recovery Systems, Renee Deveney is passionate about helping people struggling with substance use disorder. With a family history of addiction, Renee is committed to opening up a proactive dialogue about substance use and mental health. Read more
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.