Coming to a raging fire with a garden hose


one day at a time
There were several articles in our paper today about jail overcrowding, repeat probation violations, lack of mental health services and helping mentally ill people apply for disability.

It made me think all over again about the issue that many of us deal with on this board:

the issue of our adult children refusing to get the help they need for their mental illness (drug addiction and alcoholism included in this definition of mental illness).

There are many services available. Are there enough? Are they the right services? Do they go far enough to truly help people? Is there enough transitional housing, job re-entry, drug and alcohol detox and rehab (affordable)?

We could debate that all day long.

The real question is: Does the person want to change?

I am seeing more data that says forced rehab does make a difference. Does it work as well as voluntary rehab? Is the relapse rate lower? Is it more/less effective with young men or women of a certain age?

I don't know.

I do know this: We as parents, for years, brought a garden hose to the raging fire that is our adult children who are addict and alcoholics and mentally ill.

We did it all, and nothing worked. We did what we thought, what we knew, what our culture told us---what any **good** parent would do. We helped. And helped and helped and helped and helped.

And nothing worked/works/ever worked.

Finally, one day, we put down the garden hose. We said to the 40-foot-tall Monster called addiction: "I give." That was a big day for we parents. A very big day.

Guess what happens to a fire when it's left alone? It eventually burns out. Eventually.

I believe that is our task here. To put down the garden hose. To stand back from the fire. To walk to a safe place and to observe from a distance. To let the fire burn.

It is the hardest thing we have ever been asked to do in our entire lives. It is almost too hard. We have to LEARN how to do it, it is so foreign to us, to our very DNA. That is the purpose of the programs that exist for us, so that when we are finally ready to put down the garden hose, we have somewhere---just like our addicted adult children do---to turn to find out how to life a whole new life.

I pray that each of us take the help that is out there for us: 12 step programs (Alanon, FA, CODA, etc.), therapy, prayer/meditation/silence, exercise, acupuncture, writing gratitude lists, writing in a journal, etc. There are so many different tools we can adopt and use.

Let this be our daily practice. To heal ourselves from the enormous burden of loving someone who is mentally ill. Loving that person to the core of our being. And being helpless to help. We have to recover from this type of powerlessness. We did not come into this world knowing how to do this.

We have to learn how. But it is possible. With daily work. Warm hugs to all of you Warrior Moms.


Can someone tell me how to start a new post from my iPad? Thanks. I think the setup is different than a laptop or computer. All I seem to be able to do is reply to other posts.



Can someone tell me how to start a new post from my iPad? Thanks. I think the setup is different than a laptop or computer. All I seem to be able to do is reply to other posts.

Are using the app or the web version Annie?

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Well-Known Member
COM....I think I have read some of the same articles but maybe some others that say different things.

I have heard that forced rehab is just as good as voluntary rehab. I believe family members should be able to force an addict into rehab if they can convince someone - court, attorney, probation officer, mental health specialist, someone - that the person does indeed have an addiction. I also think rehabs should basically be a locked facility for at least a certain number of weeks so the addict cant just walk out when the going gets tough. Somewhat similar was when I had meningitis and they told me I had to go to physical rehab to learn to use my arms and legs again. I was terrified to go and begged everyone in my family to sneak me home. Of course they didnt. I was mad. I needed to go and there wasnt a darned thing I could do about it. They made me go. Why cant we make a person with an addiction go somewhere? They arent anymore able to make rational decisions than I was.

Another problem is the complete lack of mental health care in this country. It is a disgrace that the largest mental health inpatient treatment centers in this country is the prison system. Most mentally ill people need treatment not jail. They end up committing crimes because of their mental illnesses.


Well-Known Member
COM -- First, WOW! Great post. In fact, I read it twice it was so good!

Putting down the garden hose on the 40-ft monster may be the most eloquent and accurate description I've ever heard. I'm gonna quote that one maaaaany times (esp to myself!).

Question: I see many "quotes" in a separate box (which I like very much). How is that done?

Lastly, no Magic 8 Ball here on whether forced rehab works. Pretty sure, as with all of life, that "voluntary" everything will tend to get a better result....for difficult child's and for us parents of difficult child's