No Matter What (For Moms of Addicts)

Art by Susie Zol, click to visit her on Etsy
Art by Susie Zol, click to visit her on Etsy

This time, she’s wearing a floral dress and pink lipstick. The pained expression I recognize well. Before she even opens her mouth, I’m pretty sure she is the mother of an addicted son or daughter.

I meet this mom too often, I’m afraid. This particular one I met on Tuesday, after I spoke. She’s scared out of her mind, guilt-ridden, and confused. How could this happen to her baby? And her worst fear is too great to voice: I’m terrified my child is going to die.

I’m scared her child will die, too. In the U.S. alone, addiction and alcoholism kill on average 300 people a day, many of them young. That’s a jumbo jet filled with passengers going down. Every. Single. Day.

The hardest part might be that I can’t even tell this mom, “Trust God—it’s gonna be okay.” Because it might not be. Ask any parent who earnestly prayed for God to protect their child and then said goodbye in a morgue. [To continue reading, click here and follow me over to the Huffington Post.]

Author: Heather Kopp at

Heather Kopp is an author and blogger who writes about the intersection of addiction and faith. Her memoir about her recovery, Sober Mercies, was published by Jericho, a new imprint of HBG (Hachette Book Group) in Spring 2013.

23 thoughts on “No Matter What (For Moms of Addicts)”

  1. Interesting article, thanks! I’ve subscribed to your website posts. Nice ideas in this blog. I agree. Welcome to Testimonials and Patient Success Stories for Dr. Dalal Akoury. Patients improving from an integrative, functional, regenerative approach, call 843-213-1480 Addiction recovery


  2. Yeah, when we put our addicted kids into God’s hands, we don’t know what the outcome will be. It’s out of our hands. Like you, I wish I could tell other moms that all she has to do is pray. If only. Loving a child in the throes of addiction is a daily process of both holding on and letting go. Of hoping, and then giving up… and then hoping some more. Prayer sure saved ME though.


  3. One of your most powerful blogs, and that’s saying a lot. Had me crying in the airport while waiting for a plane at PDX…to go see my kids, who, thank God, do not have substance abuse issues. But it was good for my situation, and probably lots of other people who love someone who mis-uses. When I got home I pulled out my copy of Sober Mercies for a second read-through. I knew it would hit me differently now that I’m in yet another stage of living with yuck. I almost skipped the chapter “God as I don’t understand him” because I’d already read it and I already know God. It’s just like you almost missing the meeting where Miguel spoke. He spoke to me too, very loudly this time. Your comment hit home: “I began bumping into Miguels everywhere–people who had just enough awareness of God to know they were desperate for his help. And lately I couldn’t help noticing that not only did God seem to be helping these folks recover, but in many cases they spoke as if they depended on him in a more literal way than I ever had.”
    I am “these folks” with my desperate need for God’s mercy and salvation. But I act like the Pharisee who doesn’t need the Physician. God help us all!


    1. Sam, I know I”m late replying, but wanted to thank you for this comment and for sharing so honestly. Love your initial reactions to my book! Ha. And yes, I too am at times the Pharisee… I am so grateful for recovery and for the gentle, humble and desperate folks who remind me how simple grace and trust really can be. Hugs, H


  4. What a beautiful painting – and an important issue!
    l think we should pray all together for people that are mentioned in this conversation: I’ll remember you all before I lay down tonight 🙂


  5. Dear Heather. Thank you so much for your honesty. I can really relate to everything from god and love and forgiveness and surrender myself, through my different trials of life! Thank you! I am also VERY inspired by the artwork you put up (I found your blog by ‘accident’ and enjoy your posts every time, though not an addict or related to one, there is juice in your writing for me ;). I would like to share with you some of my artwork, and if you ever feel drawn to use it, please do so! I think it is a wonderful of combining words and pictures. 😉 Once again, thanks !


      1. Oh that makes me happy Heather! Have a lovely week 🙂 And make sure to let me now, so I can do my best to spread the word as well on your pieces 🙂


  6. Hi Heather,

    This is a very hard one, and although I haven’t gone through it with an addicted child, I have gone through it with one daughter with cancer, and one with a, still undiagnosed, illness, that left her unable to see clearly or walk without support. Releasing them to God’s care, even to accepting the fact that he might take them home was one of the hardest things I ever faced, But, I think when I did, that is when my prayers really became effective,

    Smiles, blessings, and Happy Mother’s Day,



    1. Nancy, you make such an interesting point here. Surrendering our kids and trusting God in a huge, eternal way isn’t the same as saying I don’t believe prayer matters a whit. It’s a mystery, a paradox, as are most spiritual truths, I”m finding. Thank you as always for your words, friend.


  7. Excellent, Heather, and true for us non-moms too. We get so many things wrong when we don’t understand this about God, His sovereignty, and the gulf between how we think and how He thinks (in large part because of what He knows that we don’t know). Without the confidence that He will do right and that He truly is good to us (not safe, but good), we live in fear — and then we live out that fear in our relationships with spouses as well as children, even exaggerating their untrustworthiness because we really do think that if they fail us, God is not there to back us up. And then maybe we use that to excuse behavior toward them that we know is sin. Or, as you say, we take up “the burden of continuing to believe that if I just prayed hard or long enough, or said the right words, or lived the right way, I might twist God’s arm to” do X. But — because deep down we know both that He isn’t our genie and that, even if He were, we can’t perform well enough to earn His compliance with our wishes — we despair even then. What a great thing that you have the opportunity to make these points not just to a Christian audience, but to the Huffington Post audience as well.


  8. My dual diagnosed 23 year old only son has in the last months cut off contact. We are in the sixth year of his alteration. He could be in a difficult position again or he could be perfectly fine. Experience would lean towards the former. No way of knowing. I do not understand. I do not understand the how or why of my son’s situation or his choices. And why would God let it happen or not fix it? God is. Of course. There is no giving up. Praying continues, hope is alive. Trust in God has taken a new meaning but is still being defined. We are being changed. I need change, want change. Outcomes? No idea. A couple of things learned so far, it’s not over till it’s over and God is in control. And He loves me. And He loves my wife. And He loves my son. A roiling pot remains over the fire with the promise of a good stew. Thank you for your post and the comments. Very helpful and appreciated. Happy Mother’s Day!


    1. Yes, trust in God tends to take on new meaning, like you say, when we face the kind of hardships you describe with your son. It’s not over til it’s over is a good way to put it–and the truth is that even when it’s over (seemingly to us), even then it’s not over. So appreciate your reply.


  9. Heather,
    Well. I have three sons who are all addicts of one sort or another. My prayers go up moment by moment and I refuse to stop hoping that somehow each will escape his chains. But your post (brill as the Brits say) sums up why my book idea If Morning Ever Comes, for Moms and families of addicts, is seeing so much no in CBA (besides a lack of huge platform).
    I refuse to offer only prayer and trust in God as the way out of the pain. We are moms. We will never ever escape the pain as long as we live. Even if we get that big fat miracle, we will remember the torture. For if we don’t remember, we will have somehow grown numb in a way that cannot sustain hope. What I wish more moms realized is that love exists for people like us. God exists to hand out love even as our hearts are once again shattered into a million pieces. The love that makes it possible to put one foot in front of the other every day is right here, abundant and free, easy and light. Morning may never come, but every mom can grab hold of love to keep herself from shattering too. Love you, love your post, Happy Mother’s Day, friend. ~Linda


    1. Linda, Linda, miss you friend! So great to hear from you. Wow, this is such a powerful comment. I love what you say about how God exists to hand out love even as our hearts are once again shattered into a million pieces. Yes. And,” The love that makes it possible to put one foot in front of the other every day is right here, abundant and free, easy and light. Morning may never come, but every mom can grab hold of love to keep herself from shattering too.” Oh please, you should write my blog. And someone should buy your book!! Love you, friend. H


  10. Oh, Heather, this is fantastic! I’ve been following the blog of a woman who is dealing with her son’s addiction, but very stubbornly doesn’t want to give up control… sounds like a lot of us, doesn’t it? I just wish there was a magical pill to ease the pain of the addict’s family. Oh wait, that’s pretty much how I became an addict myself. I think these words of yours are about as close to a magic pill as we’re going to get. Very well said.


    1. What an insightful comment. Yes, even the urge to give others a magic pill is a sign of our own vulnernability to want to escape pain. So grateful to have you for a reader. I totally understand the blogger mom who doesn’t want to give up control–and usually this is because we mistake our efforts to have control for actually being in control–and thus we can help ourselves avoid the real truth that control is an illusion, anyway. 🙂 Oh, we’re all so much the same.


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