Deja Gilbert, Ph.D.

mother listening to music with young addict son

Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; a mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Let her hope for you be the hope you see for yourself and the catalyst for change.

It used to be so simple. Wasn’t it?

As kids, it always seemed easy and fun to plan a way to celebrate Mother’s Day or give her a special heart-felt gift. We wanted to show love and care to the person who showed us the same affection during childhood. “How can I celebrate mom’s special day?” “Where should I take her to eat?” “What kind of flowers should I get?” “What would be the perfect gift?”

Years later, a lot has changed – including our relationship with mom.

Today, as we are creating our own lives, having our own children and dealing with our own struggles, we often rely on mom for advice and support and we begin to appreciate our moms in new ways as we understand more and more what she really did for us when we were young.

As a new mom, I am becoming intimately aware of this. Being a mother requires a level of devotion to another person that is simply unmatched. I get why new moms sometimes have the urge to call up their moms just to say ‘thank you’ for the late nights, the infinite amount of diaper changes, hugs, and of patience and selflessness.

I’m also keenly aware of how our moms watch with a mix of pride and anxiety as we begin to make our own decisions – the good and the bad. Even if she knows the road we’ve chosen is a rough one, or she sees that wrong turn as it’s happening, she knows that there are some lessons that cannot be taught, that you can only learn the hard way.

As a professional working in the addiction field with young adults and college students, I have heard so many similar personal stories from both those who struggle with addiction as well as their families. For the son dealing with an opioid addiction, for example, the only thing his mom wants is to have him back in her daily life. She wants to spend time with him, enjoying the young man she’s missed for so long. She wants to enjoy the simplicity of feeling connected and knowing he’s safe and healthy again.

The truth is that moms facing similar situations just want to have their kids back. There is no substitute.

When a child, either young or grown, suffers from addiction, moms live in a constant state of fear and worry. The addiction takes away their ability to sleep through night, to feel peace; it breaks away at her heart every day. But she continues to fight for you, even if she may not know the best way how.

For you, the addiction is like a black cloud for which the rest of the world cannot see. But you are a part of her, and she knows that you are still in there looking for a way out and, she will continue to fight for you (and sometimes with you) in order to help guide you to recovery.

But now, this Mother’s Day is the time to fight for yourself in order to give her and yourself what she truly wants this mother’s day – a healthy and happy you.

Entering treatment will help you take back control of your life by helping you understand what drives your addiction and teach you the skills to not only avoid drugs and alcohol, but how to live a more purposeful and joyful life. With sobriety, you can have life again and feel connected to those who matter most to you and who champion for you…like mom. Give her the chance to see you enjoy life – sober and free of addiction.

The best programs teach you to love yourself and your family to help you through treatment. You’ll build a strong support system and your loved ones will know more about your addiction and the path to recovery. Studies show that you have a greater chance at recovery when those close to you are involved during treatment and that family involvement in treatment can even improve the relationships after recovery.

When you are supported in treatment and recovery by family, you significantly increase the chances of long-term success in recovery, but it can also be helpful for mom, too. Through educational workshops designed to provide information to family members, therapy sessions both with and without the patient, and visitation days, she can begin to better understand your struggle and learn how she can best support your recovery and get the help she needs for her own well-being. It’s the greatest thing you can do for yourself—and the greatest gift you can give to those you love.

Dr. Deja Gilbert received her Ph.D. in Human Services in Counseling Studies and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Dr. Gilbert began her career in the addiction treatment field over 15 years ago, starting with facilitating primary counseling sessions which is where she first witnessed the positive impact quality therapy coupled with a compassionate, dignified approach can have on changing the lives of her clients and their families. Dr. Gilbert is currently Chief Operating Officer of Futures of Palm Beach where she is proud to lead an exceptional staff providing the highest level of care to their clients. www.futuresofpalmbeach.com