Cathy Alessandra: Bringing hope to others through her own struggle
Dealing with a child who is struggling with addiction can leave moms with all sorts of feelings from being overwhelmed to depressed to just plain alone. Cathy Alessandra, founder and president of Mothers with Hope, is doing her best to change that and reach out to moms who are struggling. The non-profit organization focuses on supporting moms through the addiction journey with their children. Alessandra is
Hope for Women: What inspired you to create Mothers with Hope?
Cathy Alessandra: I have a child who struggled with drug abuse. It started at the beginning of his sophomore year and by January of his senior year, he realized he needed help and asked. I leaned on friends and my husband; I attended Alanon and counseling. But there is something different when it is your child. As a mother, I blamed myself. Many of my friends, and even those at Alanon, couldn’t relate to it being my child. I knew I had to do something. I truly believe my life purpose is to help rid the stigma and support moms experiencing this crisis in their homes. This is bigger than me. It’s a God thing.
HFW: Why is it important to have a strong support system?
CA: As a mother, I rode the roller coaster of emotions. Why would he do this? What did I do wrong? I begged, pleaded, bribed and threatened. What I finally realized was that it was his journey. And while I could put boundaries into place, I couldn’t control him. I could only control myself. It’s a scary, lonely place to be. Having a support system is what got me through. Someone to cry with, someone to hug, someone to understand and empathize.
HFW: What role has your spirituality played in you being part of your son's road to recovery?
CA: My relationship with God saved me. But in all honesty, it was the crisis that brought me closer to God. God had always been in my life but not a priority. A friend told me to “surrender, accept and pray” and of course “let go and let God.” Those words are on a sticky note on my computer monitor now. I recite them. I know God is in control and that gives me peace and comfort.
HFW: What words of encouragement would you give to mothers whose teens are dealing with drug/alcohol abuse?
CA: You are not alone. While it feels like it, I promise you, you are not. Get support. The resources are tremendous. Don’t go it alone. Not all abuse turns to addiction. There is hope. In addition, take care of you.
HFW: What advice would you give to those who want to be there for family members dealing with addiction?
CA: Get help and support. There are so many resources for families. Addiction is a family affair. Everyone in the family is affected: parents and siblings. Support groups like Mothers with Hope and Alanon can help you navigate the waters of addiction. It is not a one-size-fits-all answer, and everyone has an opinion. Get the facts, find the resources and determine what is best for your family.
HFW: What was one of the most difficult parts of starting Mothers with Hope?
CA: Spreading the word that the meetings are a safe place! There is such a stigma attached to drug use and abuse. Many don’t want to admit they are facing the challenge and are hesitant to attend because they don’t want their neighbor to know. However, if more of us would come together and open the discussion, we’d understand how many families are affected and would hopefully come together to tackle the challenge in each community.
HFW: Why is it just as important for the mothers of those dealing with the addiction to get support?
CA: If I had known then what I know now…. you know that saying, right? Well, it was never more true than in this circumstance. If I had originally looked for support and understood more about the disease of addiction, I most likely would not have had the turmoil I did. Our house became a war zone as I tried to “save” him. But in reality, I pushed him further away and into the abuse. If I had the support, I would have been better able to cope with the circumstances.
HFW: Why is it important to constantly seek personal growth?
CA: If you are not growing, you are stuck or dying. Life continues to unfold daily. Take what you need and leave the rest. But seek personal growth through reading, seminars, coaching and masterminding.