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.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My family goes to the shore every weekend to stay in a family cabin that we have had for a few generations. It’s very quaint and nice, but small. My daughter asked one of her friends to join us this summer. My husband and I approved, but now we have learned that this girl is high maintenance, and she and my daughter recently had a falling out. They aren’t speaking. I imagine that this will blow over. That’s what often happens in friendships, but I worry that this is the wrong time for her to visit us in such close quarters. We go there for a peaceful time, not for contention. Is it wrong for me to suggest that my daughter not bring her this summer? So far, they have gone without speaking for a month. -- Choosing Peace

DEAR CHOOSING PEACE: If the silent treatment has lasted that long, it’s OK to make a new plan for the summer. Your daughter should get the message to the friend that, given how things are between them right now, she thinks it would be best for her not to come to the cabin this summer. The message must be clear.

If your daughter invites anyone else, it should be a friend with whom she has a close, comfortable bond. Better still, it would be great if the person is relatively chill. Be mindful of the energy mix for all the people who will be assembled.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)