Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Mom's Drug Use Hurts Her Family

DEAR HARRIETTE: My elderly mother is addicted to prescription drugs. It has been negatively affecting my mental health, and I have been taking out my frustrations on my kids. How do I stop this cycle of negativity between generations? What are some coping mechanisms I can use to deal with my mother’s drug use? -- Chain Mom

DEAR CHAIN MOM: Dealing with addiction in the family can be traumatizing. Sadly, one person’s addiction usually affects many family members. Take time each day to pay attention to yourself, especially in transition moments. Be with whatever is happening in your life. When you are dealing with your mother, be clear and compassionate. Get help from medical professionals whenever you can so that you don’t have to try to manage her care alone. Visit for more resources.

Before you turn to your children, take a moment to center yourself. Take a few deep breaths. A few minutes of meditation or gentle stretching may help you to release the tension you are holding and have space to be fully present for them.

When you find yourself lashing out at your children or anyone else, apologize as soon as you realize you are doing it. This is a tough time for you and your family. You may want to talk about what’s happening so that you don’t feel isolated as you negotiate what to do on a daily basis. Don’t dump on them, but do inform them of what is happening and why.