Managing Life’s Challenges Along with Addiction

December 13, 2019 - Mary Fran Bontempo

Life doesn’t stop. Even when you’re dealing with a loved one’s addiction, the worst crisis of your life, time doesn’t stand still for the rest of the world, even though your world has come to a crashing halt. Life goes on, and somehow, someway, you have to keep up with it.  At least you think you do. 

My son’s active addiction wasn’t the only issue facing me and my family at the time, though it was by far the most challenging. But other issues reared their ugly heads as well, including the loss of my writing jobs due to the internet, a sinking economy threatening our family business, and a big, scary birthday—which seems laughable now. 

Despite being exhausted, battered and terrified by my son’s addiction and what it was doing to all of us, despite the fact that I could think of almost nothing else, life was going on, bringing with it all of the usual, and some unusual, stresses and problems which needed to be addressed. 

 But how? How do you manage everyday life when an actual life—that of your loved one—hangs in the balance because of addiction? 

Sometimes you don’t.  As with many big life events, sometimes resolution, or even managing those events on a daily basis, is simply not in our control. Often, the most we can do is ride it out, wait until the dust settles, and be kind to ourselves in the process—not an easy task when we often feel to blame for our circumstances, whether we are or not.

That doesn’t mean we sit on our hands and let the world pummel us, however. Even when at a loss as to how to solve or manage a crisis, we can at least set an intention, one that turns our minds towards pulling something, anything, good towards ourselves to bring some relief to the ugly. 

I didn’t have the first clue about managing any of the issues facing me and my family during our time of crisis. But I did know that it wasn’t always going to be that way. Even if I couldn’t solve anything, I could at least be open to whatever might be a point of light in my day, regardless if that light was only a temporary respite or a beacon pointing toward something greater. 

Also, by taking life in 15-minute segments, I managed to somewhat contain my anxiety in a brief time frame. The problems were still there, but as I survived each 15-minute interval, I began to breathe just a bit easier. 

Yes, life goes on when dealing with addiction. But by recognizing the limits of control, setting an intention to pull the positive towards you, and managing crisis in 15-minute intervals, you’ll get through to fight another day—until the day comes when you no longer have to fight.

Mary Fran Bontempo is a 2x TEDx speaker, author and humorist. Visit her at

Her latest book, “The 15 Minute Master—How to Make Everything Better 15 Minutes at a Time,” can be found on Amazon.