A Sad Tough Love

George Mcgovern was a former American senator who wrote the book, “Terry: My Daughter’s Life-and-Death Struggle with Alcoholism.” Here is a portion of the book that contains his experience with his wife in regard to following the recommendation of tough love to their daughter:

“I regret more than I can describe the decision Eleonor and I made under professional counsel to distance ourselves from Terry in what proved to be the last 6 months of her life. No matter how good the intentions or great the wisdom of the counselor, this was not he right course… If I could recapture Terry’s life, I would never again distance myself from her no matter how many times I had tried and failed to help her. Better to keep trying and failing than to back away and not know what’s going on. If she had died despite my best efforts and m close involvement with her life up to the end, at least she would have died with my arms around her, and she would have heard me say one more time, ‘I love you, Terry.’ ”

Although the principle of tough love does have appropriate applications in specific situations, the “love” aspect needs to be emphasized and get through into the addict more than the “tough” part. It’s a balancing act that needs professional intervention in most situations.

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