Even when you’ve done everything you can to ensure a good life for your family, life can still take you by surprise. Sarah Nielsen knows this all too well as she recounts sitting in a recovery meeting for her son, Ted.

“My husband was on one side of Ted, and I was on the other side. We were introducing ourselves and I said, ‘I’m Sarah, I’m here to support my son, Ted.’ Ted said, ‘My name is Ted and I’m a drug addict and alcoholic,'”

“I thought, How is that possible? We’re a family of faith. We eat dinners together. We’ve been to Disney World. This doesn’t happen to people like us, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to go.’

In Sarah’s surprise, it was a comfort to actually put a name on the thing that was unsettling Ted and their family.

“There was grief and there was relief in that moment, because I knew this was a serious thing – addiction. Obviously, there were all kinds of behavioral symptoms, but I didn’t understand what the diagnosis was, and the diagnosis brought relief to me. This thing has a name – going forward, at least we know what we’re dealing with here.”

“I dove into educating myself about addiction and recovery, and everything they gave me and those friends and family programs, I inhaled, because I so wanted to know what what this was all about.”

While Ted was seeking help, Sarah made sure that she was seeking help as well and taking care of her soul.

“The family recovery classes were for me. For me to start learning how to take care of myself and to recover from the effects of addiction and alcoholism in my own life, and it opened up a whole new world for me. It opened up a whole new perspective of God for me.”

“I feel as though, in these at last eight years, my concept of God has just expanded exponentially. I feel like I kind of let him out of his cage and off his leash, and oh my goodness.”


Sarah Nielsen is author of the book Just Keep Going: Spiritual Encouragement from the Mom of a Troubled Teen and regularly shares her knowledge and experience by speaking to groups of students, parents and teachers.

Podcast note: Due to technical difficulties during the live broadcast, part of the program are incomplete.

A mother's heart for son in recovery

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