Raising the Bottom | Q and A with Author Lisa Boucher

I invited author, Lisa Boucher, to share this Q and A about her new book, Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture, because of its focus on women. As she explains, and as I’ve observed in the work I do with individuals and families, women have a complicated relationship with alcohol, both individually and societally, for a number of reasons. Additionally, their families go to great lengths to “help,” because a wife, mother or grandmother “can’t possibly be an alcoholic,” which exacerbates the myriad of problems for all concerned that arise when a loved one drinks too much. To raise this awareness and what can be done to change it, Lisa invited mothers, daughters, health professionals, and young women to share their stories of why they drank, how they stopped, and the joys and rewards of being present in their lives once they changed if or how much they drank.

Lisa Boucher’s personal experiences make her especially qualified to write this book. She is nearly 30 years into her own recovery, the daughter of an alcoholic mother, and a registered nurse with extensive professional experience witnessing the effects and misdiagnoses of alcoholism. Lisa explains that she was prompted to write, Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture, published in June 2017, when she realized after 24 years of working in hospitals, that doctors and traditional health care offer few solutions to women with alcohol use disorders. Over the past 28 years, Lisa has worked with hundreds of women to overcome alcoholism, live better lives and become better parents. Learn more at www.RaisingtheBottom.com and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, @LBoucherAuthor.

 

Q & A with Lisa Boucher, Author of Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture

You’ve been sober a long time. Can you start off by telling us a little about yourself and what your biggest challenge was in early sobriety?

Raising the Bottom | Q and A with Author Lisa Boucher

Q & A with Lisa Boucher, Author of “Raising The Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture”

Early sobriety is challenging, and my biggest hurdle was accepting the fact that I was an alcoholic. They say the longest 18 inches is the distance from our head to our heart. I believe that. It’s one thing to intellectually know that you have a problem and need to quit drinking; it’s another thing to have total acceptance of that concept to where you give up trying to outsmart the disease and try drinking again with the thought that this time I’ll do it right.

I quit early in my drinking career when I didn’t have any consequences. Most all of my consequences were at my core; I was disintegrating internal. Nothing in my life was working. I grew up with an alcoholic mom and she hit a low bottom. I knew if I didn’t stop drinking when I did, I too would’ve hit a low bottom and ruined my life. I didn’t want to go there. It took me almost a full year in recovery to finally gain the acceptance that I was an alcoholic. That is the hardest idea to grasp and is what keeps too many people out of recovery. They find not drinking unacceptable to them.

It’s one thing to quit drinking for a few months, but can you stop forever? I had to constantly remind myself that I felt better not drinking. My decisions were better when I didn’t drink, and I was learning to set boundaries and have healthier relationships. So many positive things began to happen in my life and all I had to do was work a program and not drink. It’s a great deal—but finding the acceptance along the way was a bit of a struggle. I hope people who are new in sobriety will commit to doing the work and in time, that psychic change will come.

The holidays are inching closer, so that means there will be lots of family gatherings and parties. What tips do you have for women who are trying to abstain from drinking?

Deciding whether or not to take part in all of the holiday festivities depends on where we are in our recovery journey, and whether we feel strong enough to attend a function without drinking. I had to get honest with myself about what I could and couldn’t do during the early days of my recovery. There is nothing wrong with declining an invitation. I learned in sobriety that I could go anywhere I wanted if my motives were good. Did I want to go to the party to see people and visit with friends, or did I want to go to prove to myself I could go and not drink? Motives matter.

Don’t go to a party if you already feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT). Have an escape plan. If I started to feel uncomfortable around all the festive looking drinks. I knew I had to be willing to remove myself from the situation.

Before the party go to a meeting. Talk to people in recovery and ask them how they handle those party situations. If you surround yourself with sober people, they will have endless experiences and suggestions to share. You then can pick out the tips that resonate with you and here’s the key—be willing to use them!

What are some healthy ways to cope with stress during and even after the busy holiday season that don’t involve alcohol?

Exercise, eating right, all the things we know we should do help alleviate or deal with stress, applies even more so during the holidays. I know that too much sugar is like poison for me. It causes inflammation in the body and a general feeling of malaise. I know many other alcoholics in recovery who agree there seems to be a connection between their love of sugar and their love for alcohol. In early sobriety, sugar may be important though. Those alcohol cravings can be lessened with orange juice and honey, or go ahead and eat that brownie or candy bar.

Lastly, for me, I had to work on getting a real spiritual connection with God. The whole purpose of the 12 steps is to allow the person to clear away all the emotional baggage so God has a clear channel to reach us. Meditation is another useful tool. No matter what a person’s beliefs, meditation has proven benefits and it absolutely calms the mind.

Do you have some words of encouragement for women who are new to living the sober life?

The most useful phrase I’ve ever heard in sobriety was to take it one day at a time. As trite as it may sound to some, it’s a wise way for anyone to live. Things that seem impossible to do, like not drink if you’re an alcoholic, can become manageable when we break things down into small bites: one hour at a time, one day at a time. It’s magic!

We can’t do this alone. When I accepted that I needed a tribe of sorts to help me though sobriety, my recovery took off. Whether it’s a peer support group or a 12 step support group, we all need people to talk to, ideas to bounce off one another, and just knowing that someone understands how we feel and has been there before makes all the difference. There were many days that the only reason I didn’t go back out and drink is I’d look around the room and see dozens of smiling faces. I remember thinking, if they can do it so can I. If you’re not connected to others—get connected!

A sober life has opened up a whole new world for me, and it has for most of us who chose to keep doing the drill. Hang in there. If things suck today, give it time and things will change for the better!

Raising the Bottom | Q and A with Author Lisa BoucherTo order Linda’s Book…

on Amazon, click here

on Barnes and Noble, click here

 

How the Zero Left Campaign is Fighting the Opioid Crisis

There is no doubt America is in the midst of an opioid crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Opioids (including prescription opioidsheroin, and fentanyl) killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.”

How the Zero Left Campaign is Fighting the Opioid CrisisAccording to Facing Addiction, in the last 62 days (figure a/o 10.12.17) opioids have resulted in 8,820 deaths.

Today’s guest author, Sam Costanzo, asked to share his article on the Zero Left campaign [zero left in the medicine cabinet], which is working to fight the opioid crisis. Sam is a lifelong New Hampshire resident with personal connections to several families lose loved ones to the opioid crisis in his state. He can be reached via email at Samc@vtldesign.com.

How the Zero Left Campaign is Fighting the Opioid Crisis by Sam Costanzo

Adam Moser was a fun loving and well liked young man with an exceptionally bright future ahead of him. He had great friends and family, a degree from Temple University and was such a skilled fisherman that he appeared on the National Geographic reality show “Wicked Tuna.” Tragically, opioids quickly changed everything for the 27-year-old who overdosed on fentanyl in September of 2015. Unfortunately, his parents, Jim and Jeanne Moser, weren’t even aware of his prescription pill habit until it was too late.

From 2000 to 2015 over 500,000 Americans died of a drug overdose. The CDC estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. In 2015 opioids killed more over 33,000 people in the US, the same year Adam passed away. Since 1999 the number of overdose opioid deaths increased 300% with prescription opioids accounting for about half of the fatalities. In New Hampshire, Adam’s home state, at one point in 2015 more than 13 million doses of Schedule II painkillers were dispensed at pharmacies. The opioid epidemic is severe and many NH families have suffered.

Zero Left for the Medicine Cabinet

Many parents aren’t doing enough to educate their kids about the dangers of prescription medications, like opioids. Fortunately, children who understand the risks of prescription drug abuse are far less likely to develop dangerous habits. This is the reason Jim and Jeanne Moser started the Zero Left campaign. The campaign’s goal is to educate the public on the dangers of opioids and to encourage the healthcare industry to better educate patients on the proper ways to store and dispose of pills.

“We used to keep our medicine in the kitchen,” said Jim. “And I thought, how did we miss that? Then I realized, we never absorbed that information ourselves because we just didn’t know.”

How the Healthcare Industry Can Make a Difference

The healthcare industry is notorious for overprescribing medication, which has encouraged the opioid epidemic to grow. When unused medication is not disposed of properly, it can be found or given to people who consume the extra pills in an unsafe way. According to the CDC, every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.

The Zero Left campaign is focused on creating useful materials for physicians to share with patients on the risks and side effects of the opioids they are prescribing. Safe disposal of the unneeded medicine is also a key component of the ZeroLeft Campaign. From limiting dosages to prescription-free relief, there are many other methods than taking opioids to kill pain that healthcare professionals can offer their patients. But combating the opioid epidemic starts with education and awareness, something the Mosers are hoping to spread in honor of their son Adam.

Jim and Jeanne hope the Zero Left campaign leads physicians to reconsider the amount and frequency in which they prescribe opioids. Healthcare professionals also need to take the time to talk to their patients before and after prescribing opioids. Simply asking “How many pills have you used so far?” in follow up appointments starts a conversation to inform patients about how they can correctly dispose of the pills they don’t need.

Click here to download copies of the two-sided Zero Left campaign brochure.

How the Zero Left Campaign is Fighting the Opioid Crisis

How the Zero Left Campaign is Fighting the Opioid Crisis

The Trauma of Children of Addicts and Alcoholics

The trauma that children of addicts and alcoholics experience can be life-changing. Frequent guest author, Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, explains what it can be like her her article below. To read her longer version, please click Children of Alcoholics/Addicts. Darlene is the author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True Youand her latest eBook is titled, Dealing with a Narcissist, 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult PeopleShe can be reached at info@darlenelancer.com or you may wish to follow her on Facebook or visit her website www.whatiscodependency.com.

The Trauma of Children of Alcoholics by Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

The Trauma of Children of Addicts and Alcoholics

Darlene Lancer, author of “Codependency for Dummies,” describes the trauma of children of alcoholics/addicts can experience.

Families with addiction are organized around the drinker or addict, and so is parenting. It’s unreliable, inconsistent, and unpredictable. There never is a sense of safety and consistency. Children are unable to thrive, and often suffer emotional, if not physical abuse. They carry issues of trust and anger about their past into adulthood. Sometimes, it’s directed at the sober parent, as well, who is often stressed, controlling, and irritable, while the addict may have withdrawn from family life. Family dynamics take a heavy psychological toll on children. Yet, more than half are in denial that they have an alcoholic parent.

Dysfunctional Parenting Causes Codependency

Living with an addict (including alcoholics[1]) can feel like life in a war zone. Parents are emotionally unavailable. Children’s needs and feelings get ignored. They may be too embarrassed to entertain friends and suffer from shame, guilt, and loneliness. Because an addict’s behavior is erratic and unpredictable, children live in continuous fear and learn to be on guard for signs of danger, creating constant anxiety that lingers long after leaving home.

Vulnerability and intimate relationships are considered risky, and children learn to contain and deny their emotions, which are generally shamed or denied by parents. In the extreme, they may become so detached that they’re numb to their feelings. They’re often hypervigilant and distrustful and many learn to become self-reliant and needless to avoid anyone having power over them again. The environment and these effects are how codependency is passed on – even by adult children of addicts who aren’t addicts themselves.

Family Roles

Children typically adopt one or more roles[2] that help relieve tension in the family:

The Hero

The Adjuster

The Placater

The Scapegoat

The Lost Child

The Mascot

Adult Children of Alcoholics and Addicts (ACAs)

Many children develop have undiagnosed depression (often low-grade, called dysthymia), anxiety, and trauma symptoms of PTSD – post-traumatic stress syndrome, with painful memories and flashbacks similar to a war veteran. Physical health may be impacted as well. The ACE (“Adverse Childhood Experiences”) study found a direct correlation between adult symptoms of negative health and childhood trauma. ACE incidents include divorce, various forms of abuse, neglect, and also living with an addict or substance abuse in the family. Children of addicts and alcoholics usually experience multiple ACEs.

Lisa Frederiksen, daughter of an alcoholic mom and founder of BreakingTheCycles.com, coined the term “Secondhand Drinking” (SHD) to refer to the negative impact a person’s drinking behaviors has on other people in the form of “toxic stress.” In her own recovery, she made the connection between ACEs and SHD and how toxic stress can result in generational addiction, including her own struggle with an eating disorder.

            “Both SHD and ACEs are two of the key risk factors for developing addiction (of which alcoholism is one). The two key risk factors are childhood trauma and social environment. Given SHD’s genetic connection, a person experiencing SHD-related ACEs then has three of the five key risk factors for developing the brain disease of addiction (alcoholism).”

Conversations with her mom helped Lisa forgive her and allowed her mom to forgive herself:

            “Mom and I talked about my realization that I’d blindly participated in passing along the consequences of my own untreated SHD-related ACEs to my daughters the same way my mom had blindly passed hers to me. And these consequences were not limited to developing alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. They were the consequences of insecurity, anxiety, fear, anger, self-judgment, unclear boundaries, accommodating the unacceptable, constant worry, and the other physical, emotional and quality-of-life consequences of toxic stress. It was this shocking insight that moved me to treat my untreated SHD-related ACEs and help my daughters treat theirs.

            “Bottom line is these discoveries helped my mom finally forgive herself the way I had forgiven her years ago. Not the kind of forgiveness that excuses trauma-causing behaviors, rather the kind of forgiveness that lets go of wishing for a different outcome. It is the kind of forgiveness that recognizes we were all doing the best we could with what we knew at the time.”

_________________________
[1]In the recent DSM-5 manual for mental disorders, alcoholism is now referred to as an “Alcohol Use Disorder and alcoholics as a person with an Alcohol Use Disorder. Similar changes were made for other substance-related disorders, classified according to the substance, such as opioids, inhalants, sedatives, stimulants, hallucinogens, and cannabis.

[2] Adapted from Darlene Lancer, Codependency for Dummies, 2nd ed., Ch. 7, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, N.J. (2015)

 

©Darlene Lancer 2017

Joshua Butcher Sharing His Story of Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery –  there is a great deal of confusion, stigma, shame and discrimination surrounding addiction, addiction treatment and addiction recovery. Yet those who have the disease of addiction (whether to illegal or prescription drugs or alcohol) and are in recovery live healthy, productive, engaged lives — the same kinds of lives as people who do not have this disease. But all the words and definitions and explanations in the world are not as powerful as the people themselves. To that end, we are grateful to the people in recovery who have decided to share their experiences so that we all may put a Face to Addiction Recovery because it’s real, it happens to real people, and it happens all the time.

It is my great pleasure to introduce today’s Face of Recovery…

Joshua Butcher Sharing His Story of Addiction Recovery

Like most teenagers, I was curious to experiment with drugs and alcohol in high school – but I didn’t expect this curiosity to completely flip my world upside down for the worst. For me, getting drunk and high made me feel bigger than life itself – and I couldn’t help but always crave more of that high.

Joshua Butcher Sharing His Story of Addiction Recovery

Joshua Butcher sharing his story of addiction recovery.

I entered the world of substance experimentation at 15 when I had my first drink. After trying every liquor option, I moved onto drugs, such as smoking tobacco and marijuana. Marijuana, especially, was majorly abused when I was a teenager because it killed all my anxiety and completely wiped out my mind whenever I felt stressed or strangely alone in my thoughts. After a while, marijuana stopped satisfying me, and I went down the route of trying harder drugs to fuel depth of my highs: coke, ecstasy, and even a supply of Oxycontin made its way into my hands because I requested it under the prescription of a doctor to aid in some physical injuries I was recovering from. After I emptied the supply of medical opioids, I regularly bought heroin in the streets.

As you can see, I made one destructive choice after the other – and why? Well, I had nothing to lose, and there didn’t seem to be anything going for me. Therefore, I figured I might as well just stay in this “fun” phase until I was satisfied with it. But the truth was, I was never satisfied – I was addicted and spiraling without even realizing it. From 15 – 21, I was a heavy drinker, smoker, and abuser of every substance you can think of. I was arrested at least once every year, and I stopped caring about that too. Substance abuse frankly had some twisted sort of fun in the chaos of it all because getting high and drunk gave me a purpose – and that purpose was to simply survive another day.

It’s not that I was tormented with my life circumstances by any means, I just got caught up in the thrill-ride of drugs and craved substances like they were necessary for existence. If anything, I was just a kid who didn’t know any better, felt alone, got on the wrong path and consequently, followed it for too long. I was empty inside and needed to fill the void with something that felt substantial, and so I turned to alcohol and drugs.

Years of drinking and abuse blew up in my face once I found myself behind bars at 21, at the Franklin County Jail. I was found with pounds of heroin on my person and guilty of being under its influence while I was arrested. It’s the understatement of the year when I say being in jail was the worst 70 days of my life. Substance abuse can only numb you for so long until you’re dragged back to reality, kicking and screaming, and suddenly forced to confront every single thing you have done that made you end up at a breaking point.

After my 70-day sentence was up – by the grace of the universe – I was given a choice to either spend a decade of my life in prison or go into a rehabilitation program in Florida – and naturally, I chose Florida.

Initially, I thought I would hate rehab – but truthfully, I just hated myself for ending up there. But after a few days in the program, I knew I couldn’t always have an angry pity party for myself. Otherwise, I would go right back to my addictive habits. I needed to take a step forward into getting my life back. Eventually, I was able to break down so many walls about myself I wasn’t even aware of. I delved deep into my past and the sources of unhappiness that made me turn to drugs and alcohol in the first place. It made me question if I ever hated myself in the first place, or the quality of life I was living. Maybe, a part of me did hate myself because deep, deep down, I always thought I deserved better than what I was giving myself. I never had the motivation to do well in school, I acce’t stuck, I was just alone and unwilling to find what mattered to me.

Then, came the withdrawal period. You could not pay me all the money in the world to suffer it again. Detox was a painfully uncomfortable process. For months, I endured the physical pain of my body crying out for me to take drugs and drink again. I was constantly nauseous, my head would pound without mercy, and everything in my body felt cold and jittery. I was irritable and miserable every single day during that period, and nothing helped me except for accepting that I had to endure it to heal. I found it funny when I realized that your body is ironically not happy with you depriving it of substances. I had spent six years of my life dedicated to abusing them, and the consequences were not going to be kind to me – and neither did I expect them to be.

After I finished my rehabilitation program, I immediately decided that I wanted to open up a center dedicated to helping as many addicted individuals as possible. Addiction is a spiraling disease that drains people of life and happiness. Honestly, I thought if I could contribute something to this world and my town, it had to be giving the community my story and solutions. With them, I could steer others away from my path and devote my time to helping those who needed to recover and live their life again. This desire wasn’t established out of any obligation, I genuinely just felt so much empathy for those who shared my experiences that I wanted to take their pain away in any way that I could.

My experience in my past rehab program set the foundation for what the Ohio Addiction Recovery Center is today. Patients follow a long-term life-skill-based program that focuses on using community resources and utilizing personal skills to aid them in their journey of sobriety and most of all, encourage them to focus on better things and opportunities for the rest of their lives. We pride ourselves on the commitment and care we bring to our patients because we understand that rehab isn’t just a simple process of stopping drugs and moving on with life. It’s much more complicated than that, and it would be doing a disservice to look at it in such a basic manner. Everyone requires individual attention to get to the root cause of their addictions, confront the pains of their past, and take a step forward to a brighter future. Sobriety takes time, and recovering addicts need others to care about them and show that there truly is direction and purpose after addiction.

Addiction is an unfathomably dark place – but it isn’t an inescapable hole. One suffering addiction always has the ability and free will to tear themselves out of it and find the necessary tools to leave behind the past, cope with the present, and create a better future. People just have to be willing to find the light and wholeheartedly follow where it takes them.

 

When Your Child Struggles With Addiction | Author Linda Dahl’s New Novel Offers Help and Hope

When your child struggles with addiction, which is now understood to be a chronic, often relapsing brain disease, the world flips and turns in unimaginable ways. Days and nights become excruciating as a parent’s every attempt to help, stop, hold onto, and do anything and everything to save their child seems to slam into another wall, followed by periods of brief respites – perhaps even periods of recovery – and then slam – another wall. So it is always a huge help when a parent is able to speak out about their experiences – not that all parents should by any stretch of the imagination — but rather if they can. Because their experience(s) may just be just what another parent needs to hear in order to better handle the nightmare of their child’s addiction and learn what they can effectively do to help them.

When Your Child Struggles With Addiction | Author Linda Dahl's New Novel Offers Help and Hope

When your child struggles with addiction – Linda Dahl’s new novel, The Bad Dream Notebook, can help.

Today, I’m sharing a Q and A with Linda Dahl, author of The Bad Dream Notebook, her new novel detailing a family’s experience with a child’s addiction. She is the award-winning author of seven previous books of both fiction and non-fiction, including Loving Our Addicted Daughters Back to Life. Linda writes about challenging personalities and difficult issues, reflecting her interests in the arts and addiction and recovery. She has two children and lots of animals and lives in an old farmhouse in upstate New York, where she serves with several organizations that work to educate young people about and help them recover from drug use dependency.

For more about Linda Dahl, check out her website or follow her on Facebook.

Q: Tell me a bit about your latest novel, The Bad Dream Notebook.

A: It’s about several things that preoccupy and energize me. What can happen, good and bad, between a parent and child when the child becomes addicted. The healing power of compassion plus knowledge about the brain disorder of addiction. The creativity that is unleashed by facing fear and shame in all their hairy guises.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the book?

A: My family. There were four of us. Now there are three. My husband died of cancer just when my then-teenage daughter was becoming addicted to painkillers and then heroin. And although I am in longtime recovery, I missed the signs until it was –pardon the expression – smack in my face. I was as unprepared as any other parent to deal with a child’s addiction. Until I got educated about what helps and what hinders recovery, we both suffered every day. Now, one day at a time, each of us is clean and sober and thriving.

Q: Since it seems to be based largely on your life, why did you decide to write this book as a novel?

A: My previous book, Loving Our Addicted Daughters Back to Life, is a guidebook for parents and loved ones of young women struggling with addiction. It is the first book for a general audience about the wealth of scientific findings and evidence-based treatment that women need. That was inspired by our experience. Yet the story wouldn’t leave me alone. I felt that I’d written the intellectual fact-finding aspect of it, but the emotional, dramatic story was clamoring to be told.

Q: How did your communication approach with your daughter change over the course of her addiction?

A: The more I learned, the more I had to change the way we interacted. Although I knew from my own experience that shaming, begging, threatening etc., rarely if ever help a person suffering from this disease, that’s what I did with her. Active addiction is a minefield for all concerned. But as I got some clarity, I became much more matter-of-fact with her. I learned to avoid the diversionary tactics addicts use. I gave her choices, both carrot and stick. Bottom line, I asked myself if what I was doing was helping to keep her disease alive, or helping her move towards recovery. I became stricter and at the same time, more compassionate. And I never stopped telling her I loved her and hated her disease.

Q: I heard you had a somewhat serendipitous conversation with a banker that led to your daughter’s recovery. Can you tell me a bit about that?

A: So I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe in coincidences. I went to my bank to get a loan, because the fall-out from my daughter’s addiction had drained my resources, but I was determined to get her into a recovery center that worked – this time. I knew the man at the bank because he’d helped me deal with finances after my husband died. This time, as we sat on either side of his bank desk, I just opened up to him about why I needed the loan. And it turned out he had this amazing sister, a scientist and woman in recovery who’d designed a small recovery center in another state utilizing the latest gender-specific treatment that works for women. Within days, my daughter was on a plane. And it was excellent treatment with after-care at a well-run sober house. But still, she relapsed, oh I don’t know, several more times, before getting clean. Significantly, she later told me that small women-centered rehab was a turning-point, a place where she was encouraged to open up about her trauma and shame, two things that bedevil female addicts particularly. It was extremely important for her to find a way to trust and respect herself.

Q: What do you think was the turning point for your daughter? The point where she knew it was finally time for her to help herself.

A: She finally put together about eight months of recovery in another state. She had a wonderful sponsor. But she was also in a relationship. So she and the boyfriend came to visit me for a week. And she went out and scored some heroin. We found out. The boyfriend and I laid down our bottom lines – either you get rid of the dope and immediately get to a meeting and get a temporary sponsor, or he’s leaving and you will have to find another place to stay. And it worked. She was between that rock and hard place where I believe you have to get to. Where you’re finally willing. I saw tremendous change in her after that.

When Your Child Struggles With Addiction | Author Linda Dahl's New Novel Offers Help and Hope

Check out Linda Dahl’s new novel

Q: What message(s) do you want readers to take away from The Bad Dream Notebook?

A: I want people going through what I did – and there are millions of us – to stop being so hard on themselves. Addiction is not the result of bad parents or a moral failing or a lack of willpower. When we read the science, we get that it’s a brain disorder which robs the sufferer of the ability to make rational decisions. And we have to learn that love without understanding how the disease operates is not enough. Compassion plus comprehension are vital in turning it around.

And one more thing, which may sound surprising. People who come to a 12 step meeting for the first time often say they’re amazed at all the laughter. So it is in The Bad Dream Notebook. Because laughing at life is one of the best antidotes to suffering I know.