A guy’s relationship with his mom is complicated, to say the least. She’s your first mentor, authority figure, nurturer, and best friend. It’s a delicate balance full of pitfalls and social mores, but rules go out the window when your child is in need… and addiction can render even the manliest of men susceptible to downfall.

WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP

It’s natural for a toddler to cry to his mom when he skins his knee. Her kisses are medicinal manna, perfectly formulated to cure any scrape. But when you get older, you get tougher. You shake off the pain and get back in the game. Through it all, you try not to look over toward the sidelines, where your worried mom is fretting over every bump and bruise. You do your best to shut her out because you think that’s part of growing up.

And then you get sucker punched by substance abuse.

Addiction is a disease more powerful than any linebacker. You didn’t see it coming, but it came nonetheless. Now you need your loved ones’ help, and Mom is often the most loving of all. Instead of keeping a stiff upper lip and pretending the pain is gone, you must acknowledge it. A true sign of growing up isn’t suffering in silence; it’s voicing your vulnerabilities. Mom will listen.

The only way to conquer addiction is to face it head-on (like that linebacker who just sideswiped you in the previous metaphor). Understand the forces of substance abuse in order to combat them, and lean on mom – she’s got your back… and she’s the meanest mother in town.

WHAT CAN MOM DO?

Perhaps your mom shared with you the grueling details of her labor pains. Delivering you into the world was no picnic, but she suffered through the agonizing process to achieve the greatest miracle of all: you.

That’s the journey on which you are now embarking. You need to struggle with the demons of addiction to emerge into a better reality and birth the NEW you. Since Mom created the first version of you, she knows a thing or two about this process, but it didn’t end once she left the maternity ward. Mom spent sleepless nights by your side when you couldn’t hold up your head, when you developed colic, and when you needed soup to fight a nasty flu. Use her examples as a guide for how to treat yourself.

Unlike your childhood years, you’re now in better control of your destiny. You need to meet Mom halfway if you want her to nurse you through this ordeal called addiction. She brought you this far, but now it’s time to join the fight for your sobriety.

TOUGH LOVE

“Tough love” is a buzz-worthy phrase that is often misunderstood. It usually evokes an image of an intervention where a circle of family members crosses their arms and shakes their heads disapprovingly.

But tough love is a two-way street.

You need to be tougher on yourself than your Mom is. It takes all of her strength to withhold money and resources from you, but she has to do so if she wants to help you get better. You need to acknowledge her sacrifices and assure her that this toughness is paying off. Meet her demands, show results, and demonstrate that when it comes to being tough, you can take the weight off of her and put it on yourself. This will help re-establish trust and illustrate that you’re serious about recovery.

Because if you’re not, how can she be?

THE GUILT GAME

Mom already feels guilty enough for letting you down. She may blame herself for missing the warning signs of your early addiction, or for being too permissive during your teenage “party” years. Don’t play into that guilt or exploit it to try and get off the hook. This addiction is yours and yours alone; it’s not your fault, and it’s definitely not hers.

Just as you educate yourself about the disease of substance abuse, so too should you educate your support system (aka Mom). Let her know that you’re going to beat this bully called addiction – Moms love standing up to bullies. Externalize the disease so that you don’t rehash the personal politics of your relationship. Instead of a he said/she said, make this a battle of us vs. it (the “it” being the addiction).

You’re on the same team: it’s called Team [insert your shared last name here].

MOMS TALK

Speaking of teams, Moms are powerful social animals. After all, they created your family and worked to keep it cohesive all these years. They also crafted relationships with your neighbors, teachers, coaches, and everyone else who helped to shape your life. And now they are your best advocates when it comes to seeking help and counseling for your recovery.

Talking is what Moms do best, and now they’re on social media to amplify that conversation. Allow their communication skills to create connections, allocate support, and find answers when you feel lost or confused. Mom usually has an answer for everything.

HER WORST FEAR

All flippancy aside, your mother is fighting for you because she fears for you. Battling addiction is tough, but the alternative can be lethal. Imagine the heartbreak an overdose would cause your mom. Now multiply that devastation times a trillion if that overdose results in your death. Your mother wants nothing more than to celebrate your next birthday, your joyous wedding, or the birth of her healthy grandkids.

Don’t be another statistic. Mom expects better from you.