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Expectations for our loved one’s recovery vs. reality


The Addict's Mom


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This question was posted to all members of  The Addict’s Mom Facebook Group. One of the valued members Elaine Altman-Eller took all the answers and compiled them together to create this collective perspective.  Hope it is helpful in better understanding the “Expectations vs. Reality” in the recovery process of a loved one.

How do our expectations of the recovery experience for our loved ones differ from the reality of their recovery?

Our expectations are just that; they are formulated ideas in our minds as to what the addict should do, how they should go about doing it and how we feel they should go about accomplishing it. The reality is that it’s their disease and their recovery.  For instance, they may have an expectation that after a specific amount of time, they should have our trust back, and we may be under the illusion that they have already earned our trust, simply by agreeing to enter into recovery. Truth is regaining trust as well as losing trust takes time. We have to remember to use caution without offending, and the addict must be willing to accept this emotional limitation.

Our expectations may lead us to believe that once in a program, life will resume as it once was. The reality is that we as Mother’s must reprogram our thought process to a healthier and more productive supportive system. Mothers tend to believe they love unconditionally so this seems like an insurmountable task and completely against nature. Our roles as caregivers must take on a new meaning. 

The reality is that most often things will be revealed that we were never aware of and couldn’t possibly imagine. We must be open-minded and willing to accept these revelations in order to move forward. Open and honest communication is the key; sometimes the reality of that can sting. There are many gripping realisms of this challenge.

The addict owns their addiction and cannot, should not, be forced to take on your feelings of disappointment. They have to navigate their own recovery the way it was meant to unfold, with only emotional support from us.  We own what we contributed and they own what they have done.

We should seek treatment so we don’t fall back into the same damaging patterns as before. Expectations can set you up for disappointment, but you cannot expect any person to live up to your ideas of recovery. The reality is, it is an individual journey and an individual effort. The expectation of the addict becoming clean as quickly as they became addicted is one of the harshest realities for a loved one to experience.

Fact is: the disease of addiction is a roller-coaster of emotions on the part of everyone who is actively involved in the addict’s life.  The addict expects the enabler’s behavior to remain the same as it was prior to entering recovery; in fact they have learned to rely on it. It is vitally important that all the family members enter into recovery.

Barbara Theodosiou“The Addict’s Mom,” founded by Barbara Theodosiou is a group focusing on the mothers of addicted children. The relationship between the mother and addicted child is unique; that does not diminish the experiences of other family members. This group however, is dedicated to addressing the mother’s pain but more importantly, the commonalities of our experiences thus illustrating to the grieving mother that she is not alone nor is she unique in this respect. One line, one thought can help change her perspective for the better. (click here to explore the new Addict’s Mom membership site)


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from The Addict’s Mom.” Expectations for Our Loved One’s Recovery vs. Reality, to Blog Home


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