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

Man standing on a bridge struggling with addiction

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.


What were some of the first symptoms you saw? I know, for parents of children who struggle with any of these disorders, it can be so hard because they do love and support their children and want to think the best of them.

I know it was definitely a situation in my family that “I was a really good kid,” “I was a high-achiever” as is often the case in these situations. Parents want to focus on those strengths.

What was it like for you?


It was kind of like that. When we even started to have an inkling that we were not just having teenage troubles, but that something was going on.

At the time, we lived in India because my husband was working there, and I was a stay-at-home Mom.

My son is also a high-achiever, an Eagle Scout with scholarships to several colleges. We started getting reports from some of the teachers that his behavior was changing and somebody mentioned drugs.

I thought, “there’s no way my son was doing drugs; it just couldn’t happen.” I thought I was on top of everything, and it couldn’t happen.

He began to lose a lot of weight, and our initial reaction was that maybe he had an eating disorder. So, we took him back to the United States, and I stayed with him there for a couple of months while he went to an eating disorder clinic.

In retrospect, I think that it was not an eating disorder; it was an addiction. We were chasing the wrong issue, and he wasn’t going to tell us what the real issue was.

Man looking at the waterThen, we thought he was all cured, all done. He graduated from high school.

We all moved back to the United States, but we still didn’t know we had a problem. We thought we had addressed it, it was done and over, and he was on his way to college.

Then, he got arrested and tried to commit suicide during the first couple of weeks of school. So, he came back home, and we still didn’t know, at that point, it was a drug issue.

Within weeks, we knew he was becoming a different person. He was lying and had violent behavior.

This conversation will continue in Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 3

Please See:

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


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 19, 2019
Reviewed & Approved by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 19, 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.