Tending Dandelions- Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 3

Lady working on recovery that she could control

Kirsten Haglund of Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope conducted an interview with Sandy Swenson about her experience with a son struggling with addiction and the resulting book she wrote Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children. Kirsten interviews guests that are experts in their field such as leading doctors, clinicians, experts, advocates, and people with their own recovery experiences, offering their insight and sharing their wisdom.


Can you describe what it felt like, for you? As a mother, you want your child to be well, and you poured a lot of time and money into expensive treatment as well as the emotional commitment.

How did it feel for you and your family having that realization that it wasn’t just one fixed time in treatment?


It absolutely impacted the whole family.

After we realized the eating disorder wasn’t the real issue, then we got him into addiction treatment and truly believed, at that point, that we had gotten him in and in 30 days, we were going to be good to go.

When we went to the first family program, I thought I was doing this for him, and I put up with the family program and realized that there was more to this, that I had to do things as well.

He finished up his 30 days and recovery didn’t stick.

In time, I came to realize that I can still find recovery for myself and for my family, so that, someday, when he’s ready to embrace recovery, there will be something healthy for him to return to.

At the rate we were going, we were just going to be an obliterated family. The roller coaster of in-and-out treatments and in-and-out of recovery was tearing our family apart. I had to take control over the part of recovery that I could control, and that was me.

I was the one sucking our whole family down the drain and pulling the whole family with me, that umbilical connection is powerful.


I’m fascinated by that because, what I think is “oh my goodness, what an incredibly strong woman.” I just can’t even imagine, and you say you were sucking your family down.

I find that so hard to believe because I can’t imagine what a mother would do in that situation. How did you come to that realization, and how long did it take you to get to that place?


Oh, it took years.

I spent years crying and spending a lot of time in bed and ashamed to tell anybody.

Man sitting by the reiverI could see that my family was crumbling, and I was crumbling and that the shame, the stigma, the guilt, and me trying to fix him, nothing I was doing was working.

I knew that I needed to do something different.

I couldn’t make the situation better because I can’t fix it for him, but I could do the part of recovery that I could control. I can make it so that things aren’t worse by me sucking my whole family down the drain. I was making it worse.

The destruction had to stop. He was the one taking the poison, but it was slipping right in through that umbilical connection to me, through me, and taking down the whole family.

This conversation will continue in Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 4

Please See:

Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 1
Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 2


Weekly Hope Conversation with Sandy Swenson on March 12, 2019.

Please visit the Weekly Hope with Kirsten Haglund page for other presentations.

About the Author: 

Sandy Swenson ImageSandy Swenson is the mother of two sons—one of whom struggles with addiction. Author of The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction {Central Recovery Press], Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children [Hazelden Publishing], and Readings for Moms of Addicts App [Hazelden Publishing], Sandy lives in the place where love and addiction meet—a place where help enables and hope hurts. Sandy is a voice for parents of children suffering from the disease of addiction, putting their thoughts and feeling into words.

Sandy lives in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. When she isn’t writing or traveling to speak with other parents coping with the disease of addiction in their family, Sandy enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

About the Interviewer:

Kirsten Haglund HeadshotKirsten Haglund is an international speaker, mental health advocate, and digital media strategist. Through her media and communications company, En Pointe, she works with a diverse group of clients in both the profit and non-profit sectors increasing social engagement and scalability, social listening, communications training, spokesperson work increasing brand awareness.

Kirsten serves as a media spokesperson, speaker, and Director of Global Business Development and Digital Media for Eating Disorder Hope & Addiction Hope. She is also Community Relations Specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center and is Founder and President of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation.

She also does political analysis across television news networks and radio, including on MSNBC, CNN International, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Channel. Her Op-Eds on politics, culture and non-profit advocacy have appeared in the New York Daily News, Forbes.com, Huff Post and in industry journals.

She served as Miss America 2008 and Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Kirsten graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Political Science and is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland.

About the Transcript Editor:

Margot Rittenhouse photoMargot Rittenhouse, MS, NCC, PLPC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on April 22, 2019
Reviewed & Approved by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 22, 2019
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.