As published in The Doctor Weighs In on May 8, 2016
I work with college students who are in recovery for drug and alcohol addiction. Most students say their mothers do everything in their power to save them. In the best-case scenarios, these sons and daughters accept help—from treatment and from recovery meetings and sponsors to combat their addiction. For others, help needs to take a more punitive form, from jail time to emergency room visits.
No matter where help is found or how sobriety is achieved, recovery is a gift. Here are 3 of the most precious ones students in the Collegiate Recovery Community at Texas Tech have shared with their moms since starting their recovery journey.
People in recovery strive to be fully present and in the moment. In a world of technology, stress, and struggle, being present is a powerful gift for mom and yourself. For one Texas Tech student in recovery, being present meant remembering—for the first time in a long time—everything that happened at her mother’s birthday, enjoying her family, and realizing how much her mom loved and appreciated her sober, present child.
Self-sufficiency is an important skill for people in recovery. One college student spoke to me about his mom’s wish that he become more financially independent. He took her words to heart, committing to work more hours at his job and save more money, instead of blowing it. While he hadn’t always been kind to his mom, he said, this gift would be a good place to start.
Perhaps the most powerful gift recovery can bring is the recognition that our lives are a gift—and that we can share this gift with others. One student asked his mom what she wanted for her birthday. She responded that she didn’t want anything “materialistic,” just something from him. He wanted it to be meaningful for her, and so he thought a lot about it. Finally, he decided to learn how to sing “Happy Birthday” to his mother in Dutch, her native language. He searched YouTube, found a video, and listened to it 100 times or more until he knew every word. On her birthday, he called his mother. When she answered the phone, he started to sing. At first, she laughed, and then she began to cry. He said,
“Recovery has taught me to think about other people’s needs. My mother made me. I wouldn’t be here without her. I see that now.”
This Mother’s Day, remember your mom and the students in recovery at Texas Tech who will be present, self-sufficient, and learning to sing in Dutch. You—and they—are the most precious gift of all.