A woman struggles to cope with her son’s addictions.
With three decades of teaching and multiple books on addiction under her belt, Ketcham (co-author: The Pain Antidote: The Proven Program to Help You Stop Suffering from Chronic Pain, Avoid Addiction to Painkillers—and Reclaim Your Life, 2015, etc.) was considered an expert on the subject, but she was totally unprepared when she discovered her son, Ben, was addicted to drugs and alcohol. In this honest account, the author shares her doubts, fears, anger, and angst as she and her husband strove to help Ben in any way that they could. She readily admits she missed the beginning telltale signs of his drug use, which started in high school. “Addiction isn’t a choice,” she writes, “it’s not a moral failure, a maladaptive lifestyle habit, or a developmental learning disorder—it’s a brain disease that is both chronic and progressive.” Yet these knowledgeable words often brought little comfort as she attempted to help Ben, who fought against most of the help he was given, including expensive rehab treatments. Ketcham ponders whether she was too heavy-handed in her counseling and suggestions when Ben’s abuse became obvious, and she even questions her effectiveness as a mother. She chronicles her discussions of her work with kids in juvenile detention, and she uses excerpts from some of her earlier books to help clarify some of the ideas she explores. She also examines concepts of spirituality, forgiveness, and change as she relates the many years it took before Ben decided to get clean. The author’s hard-won wisdom and often unanswerable questions help readers see the far-reaching effects of alcohol and drug abuse, and the inclusion of comments from Ben demonstrates the pain and anguish felt on all sides of the situation.
An expressive account of one family’s struggles to help a child with serious addiction issues.