Life Advice



Ask Amy: Two perspectives on addiction and recovery

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My wife and I are in the early 70s. We are blessed with sound retirement wealth and good health, but no mental peace.

Our only son is a recovering alcohol and drug (cannabis) addict. He is married and has two infant sons.

Every few months, he relapses. Then his wife gets very upset and writes us lengthy letters asking us to intervene and to give her support.

In earlier days, her letters insinuated that his addictions were our fault, and that we did not give our son enough support in the rehabilitation process, which is not true.

We did everything in our capacity. But now nothing is in our control. We try to give advice to our son, but he does not listen to us anymore, and he lies — as addicts do. We do not have the courage to tell our daughter-in-law to stop writing us these letters out of fear of alienating her and losing our contact with the grandsons.

She does not understand that the situation is beyond our control and it terribly upsets us and ruins our mental peace for days after she contacts us.


What can we do to bring peace into our life, but also stay away from our son’s life?

– Distraught Grandparents

Dear Distraught: If your only child has an addiction disorder, total peace and tranquility are probably not in the cards for you. Your son’s disease affects everyone around him. As parents, you need to continue to do the work of detaching from his addiction – or any particular outcome related to it — while still loving him and his family as well as you can.

You DO have wisdom to share with your daughter-in-law, and when she beseeches you for support, perhaps you should offer it!


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