Journey's blog

Topics with Substance Abusers

I have had numerous people ask me what I talk about to alcoholics and drug addicts when I go to their locations behind closed doors. The first thing I want to do is give them hope and believe in themselves again. Somewhere beneath their habit and actions is the person, who not only enjoyed their families, but life itself. At this stage, getting clean and sober seems completely out of their reach.

I want them to hold their heads up high because they have nothing to be ashamed of being addicted to alcohol or drugs. They have a disease. In fact, it’s surprising when I hear that no one in the family has a problem with addiction. Probably eighty to ninety percent of students in most schools are on something.

The only shame with substance abusers is that most don’t have enough faith in themselves to fight for their sobriety. They give up. Too many have deep rooted problems from the past that they don’t want to deal with so they stay in a numb stage every day being drunk or they go out looking for the drug dealers.

I truly believe that when people feel lost, hopeless and alone that they need to turn back to prayer. Patients say, “Oh, I don’t know how to say the rosary or maybe a novena.”  I tell them that it’s okay because God already knows that.  He knows every single thing about each of us. If we don’t open our hearts to let Him, we won't feel His love and support.

I try to explain that prayer is just talking to God like I do to them. A simple prayer each morning can be “Please, God, help me get through the day with no using.” At night, even if it was the worse they ever had, to never end the day without thanking God because He is giving them another chance to get it right.

If any business, organization or substance abuse rehabilitation centers wants me to speak on “The Effect of Alcoholism on the Whole Family”, they can contact me for a quote at [email protected]. Visit my blog for updates on substance abuse.

An Author's Day

People met authors and think they are well on the road to wealth and fame. What they don’t realize is the fact that readers and organizations get our name out in the world.

How does an author’s day go?  I can only tell you about mine. First, I spend way too much time on the computer with my husband seeing my back for over eight hours. There is something wrong here; I’m supposed to be retired!

I try to keep the time down checking my three emails, a blog and a website.  I am now a blog writer twice a week for the Cape Cod Today, Plymouth Daily News and the Causehub for teenagers on alcohol abuse since I lost a husband and daughter to their addiction.

I spend numerous hours trying to get bookings for speaking engagements and book signings. Agents talk about how authors should get thick skin with receiving so many rejection letters when we send out our query letters to them but the same goes for contacting businesses. A high percent of locations don’t return your call even if they requested you to contact them or they completely forget who you are.

Managers, directors or counselors don’t want to pay authors or speakers for their time appearing at their location. They don’t stop to think that we have a back-bill waiting for the books we had to purchase ourselves for the event. Books don’t move; we can’t afford to keep giving free events.

Bless the authors who were at the right place, at the right time, with the right person to open doors for them. Being an author is a full-time job and so many get lost in the pile. It’s sad when so many writers have a strong message on how to make things better or help individuals find strength after a tragedy happened to them.

All these responsibilities during the day can actually stop me from getting to the next book I’m working on. With so many tasks, some of them have to get put on the back burner. 

So if you’re out shopping sometime and see an author who is book signing or giving a talk, stop and think of how they are trying to reach out to bring a reader a little time to themselves to relax with a good paperback book or a Kindle version. With our fast-paced, stressful life, we have forgotten to take time for ourselves. We are too much on the clock. People need to get into the characters and dream a little so their bodies and minds can forget about the stress and sometimes heartbreak in life.

An Author's Best Friend!

The best gift for an author is word of mouth from our readers who spread the news of our books that we present to the world. It’s an honor when they take the time to actually go on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and write an exciting review…which only makes other readers develop the interest to buy that one book because they take your word that it’s worth the money.
Some stories have a strong message to help people who are suffering in life from a tragedy or trying to find ways to resolve a problem. Authors become a support for readers to realize others have suffered like you. One small statement in that book can change your life to build up your courage to bring change. You’re not alone.
Other authors take the reader on a ride away from their daily stress. Maybe we bring laughter back into your life. It’s the wonder of standing in a character’s shoes and daydreaming for a few days while you turn a new page. Maybe you need a little romance to bring that spark back.

As an author, I hope paperback books never disappear, although, e-books are riding high with buyers who own Kindle, iPhones or other modern electronic devices. With a paperback, you can get the author’s personal signature on your book or cuddle up on the couch and enjoy a good read.

No matter whether it’s paperback or an e-book, we love your support and desire to follow us. More importantly, it’s a gift when a reader spreads the word that our book(s) would be on interest to someone else.

A Spiritual Renewal; A Journey to Medjugorje is in Kindle and due out any day in paperback. It’s a book to bring the faithful back home to God. Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis and its sequel Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism is offered in both versions. Both book which contain many lessons for alcoholics, drug addicts and their families. Whichever one you buy, you will be amazed at the reality of alcoholism.

Keep the authors busy from your interest so we can work hard to bring you more enjoyment!  How many out there still enjoy a paperback book to hold in their hands?

Results of Dangerous Enabling

How could a once gentle, loving husband become violent from drinking?  He swore never to become like his mother or sister from their alcohol abuse.  Yet, the children of an alcoholic often go down the same path.

I wrote about our nightmarish episodes with Richie’s blackouts coming home in the early morning hours looking for a fight over anything or everything.

Here is an excerpt from Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis:

Suddenly, he grabbed my hair and pulled me down to my knees by the armchair.

“What are you doing?” I screamed trying to get my hair out of his fingers.

He was so close to my face that I could feel his hot, liquor-soaked breath on me. His eyes were bloodshot, and his stale breath turned my stomach.

Stop, Richie. You don’t know what you’re doing,” I pleaded realizing that he was in a blackout. There was no reasoning with him.

He had a death grip on my hair. It felt like every root came loose from my scalp.

He started to bang my head against the armchair repeatedly. My head felt like it exploded; my stomach churned and I felt nausea well up in my throat. My surroundings became fuzzy. His voice seemed far off, and I was on the verge of passing out. Words couldn’t come out of my mouth. I felt like a rag doll being thrown back and forth.

Suddenly, he let go of me and I fell down onto the rug. Instead of waiting for me to lift myself up, he left me there. He turned and went into the bedroom.

I was stunned and unable to move. The pain shot up into my head, and I couldn’t function. I was shocked that he physically hurt me so badly. My fear rose, knowing that he was now capable of killing me.


How many of us put up with this kind of abuse?  Is it from fear of leaving, having no job to be able to support ourselves and the kids or is it from the life-threating belief that the kids need their father/mother?  Our children don’t need that kind of love.  It’s up to us as parents to protect them.

Read about my constant enabling that only pushed Richie deeper into his addiction in my memoir Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis through or Readmore Books in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Purchase through

Come Meet Alberta Sequeira

Truth Be Told: Tuesday, August 14th at 7PM

The Book Shack,Kingston, MA

Presents: A Panel of Five Authors


The Book Shack, fighting the stereotype of book stores fading into the past, is not only providing consumers and book lovers with a place to find wonderful reads, but they are also creating great events celebrating local talent on theSouthShoreand surrounding area. They have everything from intimate concerts to workshops planned. And among these refreshing events, they are also having author panels which are free. What a great way to spend an evening!

 On Tuesday, August 14th, a panel of five local authors will be discussing the art of non-fiction. The topics of their books range from Burial Hill inPlymouth to defining oneself after retirement. The evening will begin at 7PM at theKingston location of The Book Shack in the Independence Mall.

 Ted Burbank has written on numerous topics – celebrating some ofPlymouth’s pride and some of its hidden treasures. He’s also written about how to unplug kids and have them enjoy other non-electronic forms of entertainment. And, staying with the “unplugged” theme, he’s also documented how he has become completely energy self-sufficient.

 Alberta Sequeira of Rochester has written non-fiction of a different nature. She has three moving memoirs – two are about the effects of alcoholism on the family. Her first candidly relates life as the wife of an alcoholic; her second discusses the struggles of her daughter’s fight, and ultimately her defeat, with the same disease.Alberta’s third book is the story of her father, her family, and finding herself on a journey to Medjugorje.

 And if you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, you’re sure to fall in love with Jim Coogan’s Cape Odd - a collection of anecdotes and unusual stories about theCape showcasing strange happenings and curious events--both natural and man-made. There are also short sketches of some of the "out of the ordinary people who have added their own special character to Cape Cod's colorful and interesting history.”

 Susan Trausch, a former Globe columnist, has tackled the world of retirement. Her book discusses not only the term and how it has changed since the days of yore, but it also humorously confronts how to answer the question, “So, what do you do?” when you no longer have a job title to define who you are.

 The fifth panelist, Joyce Keller Walsh of Lakeville, delves into a mystery of another kind. SLEUTH-blog is the nonfiction account of her real-time investigation of a cold-case murder in 1969 inFall River,MA. Walsh has also written non-fiction and has five other titles published to date.

 So, no matter your preference for reading material, you are bound to be engaged by this panel. Following the group’s discussion of how and what each has written, as well as the art of composing non-fiction, a question and answer period will be followed by book signings. Mark your calendar! Truth may not always be stranger than fiction, but it is certainly entertaining. For more information about upcoming events, please visit

What is considered normal in an alcoholic family?

Al-Anon tries to convince the non-alcoholic to go about their family life normally; continue doing your everyday events and don’t allow the alcoholic to control you. Life for family members is not, and will not be, normal with an active addict in the home. 

Each member lives in constant fear, looking at the clock the closer it gets to the alcoholic’s time of arrival. You can actually feel the unhealthy knot in our stomach that reaches your throat and the racing of your heart begins from the stress. If it’s extremely late, you lie in bed tossing and turning with anticipation. If it’s your teenager, you are going from window to window waiting for the car to pull into the driveway. The later it gets, the worry of them getting into a car accident overwhelms you. Your heart stops hearing a police or ambulance siren.

Suppers get cold and usually get thrown out. The kids question over and over again where daddy is and if he is coming home, but they’re not stupid. They have an alarm go off in their tiny heads when the dishes are done, the baths are taken, and mommy is pushing to get them into bed that this might be another night daddy is coming home drunk.

The non-drinker has pushed their wants and desires in life under the rug because you spend every waking moment worrying about the alcoholic. Meanwhile, you and the family are last on their lists. The drinks and friends are first to fill their life.

Once they’re home in blackouts, you become their enemy. They suddenly want to talk about topics you wanted to settle months ago, they question why you didn’t do the smallest thing, they question why the kids aren’t waiting up for them, or maybe their supper was thrown out by the time they got home at 2am and that upset them. Deep down you know they’re looking for any reason to fight even if you move the wrong way.

Maybe it’s a battle ground with abuse before they pass out. The non-alcoholic and the children don’t discuss the event the next morning. We want to forget it happened, which is what we call enabling. The alcoholic doesn’t have to take any responsibility for their actions.


For alcoholics who have no control over their own life from drinking, it’s amazing how we allow them to control ours. It’s all about letting these situations go on for too long and not making demands on the drinker.  Not following through on demands can cause violent crimes in the family including death from blackouts. 

We go years without demanding they get professional counseling, don’t bring up admitting them in a substance abuse rehabilitation center, get restraining orders….only to break them and continue making excuses for the addict. The longer you do nothing, the deeper the alcoholic goes into their addiction.

I hope to God this is not considered “a normal life!”

The Alcoholic's Denial

Alcoholic's thoughts......

“Why is everyone making so much with my drinking?”

“All my friends are doing it.”

“I can give it up anytime.”

“I only drink beer.”

“I don’t need rehab.”

“I don’t have a problem.”

“I drink because she/he/parents won’t leave me alone.”

“I left my recovery program because they dug too deep into my private life.”

“I drink to fit into the crowd.”

“It makes me feel good.”

“I cut down on my drinks.”

“It helps me handle my shyness.”

“I’m not hurting anyone.”

“I don’t miss work so it’s not a problem.”


All the remarks that lead to denial and death!

Too Late with Choices

If only we could go back and change our mistakes! How many of us wish that same thing? The wrong direction we took or the wrong decision. Depending on the circumstances, some mistakes can be corrected from our bad outcome and start over again.

Choices are lost when we lose a loved one. We go over and over with why didn’t I, if I had, why didn’t I see the signs, why didn’t I do more? The list can go on and on. We had no control if we lost them fast and unexpectedly.

The wrong choices or not doing enough to help a loved one that had battled their alcohol addiction or drugs is a lifetime of regrets.

Too many times I’d go over; why did we think putting Lori out on her own would have helped her see how sick she had been? Why did I believe people who said, ‘She has to reach rock bottom,’ when her rock bottom had been her death like her father. Why didn’t I sit and explain to her our out-of-control alcoholic family life when she was young so she’d understand why she had been frightened all her life not knowing why. Things counselors didn’t know because she couldn’t open up about her past tragedies. I had those answers. Why did I let her struggle with her addiction so many times alone instead of spending time with her?  She lost her job, her home; her car was repossessed and she and her two children moved in with her sister’s family. With all this, we learned she had been bulimic.

I think back to all the things I didn’t do when in reality; I had reached out to Lori many times while she stayed in denial. Being a mother, I felt I had missed many opportunities to help her more. I’m not alone with these feelings. Parents, siblings or mates, who lost an alcoholic abuser, have to be feeling the same. It was their battle but we can’t understand why they lived like this without developing the desire to recover.

How do we handle the pain and mistakes? We can stay stuck and blame God or come to reality that it was the addict’s choice not to get help. It’s not easy to live with but it’s a healthy way of thinking to stay sane. What about our mistakes? We have to stop tormenting ourselves and ask what we can do to make their life worth something with the time God gave us with them.

One day in 2007, a year after Lori’s death, I just picked up the phone and called the Gosnold Rehabilitation Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts and asked to give a speaking engagement to the patients at the women’s section at the Emerson House. Lori had been a patient there twice and had no desire to take the professional help offered to recover. We lost Lori November 22, 2006, two days before Thanksgiving at thirty-nine years of age.

I talked for an hour to over thirty women and teenage girls with moments of breaking down from the pain of loss. I could see Lori in every room from our past visit to see her. After speaking, many patients came up to me and thanked me for talking to them, and I could feel their sincerity. I closed my eyes with their hugs, feeling Lori in my arms.

From then on, I have become an Awareness Coach for substance abusers and their families in private or public events. This is what I’m doing with my pain from loss. I wrote Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; A Family in Crisis and its sequel Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism. They are books with many lessons on my mistakes with enabling and my private talks to patients at halfway homes, court-ordered programs and substance abuse rehabilitation centers. The books could be titled “What not to Do!”

I am honored when I get called to talk at a function or at private events. If I can reach one, than I’ve done God’s work. At the end of the day, think of these lost souls controlled by addiction and pray for them.

[email protected]



Repeated Alcohol Abuse

How many family members are slowly watching their loved one killing themselves from alcohol abuse or drug use? The addict can be admitted numerous times to detox centers and will sometimes go directly into a substance abuse rehabilitation stay for ten to ninety days.

They come out and go right back to their usage. As the non-drinker we can see they are shortening their life, and sadly, we know there is help for them if they would only grab onto the services; but they don’t.

We hear the statement, “They have to reach rock bottom.”  Don’t believe it or wait for that to happen. I listened to people say that to me and lost both my husband and daughter from their addiction while they lived in denial. Their rock bottom was their death.

There is no need to wait for alcoholics or drug addicts to go so deep into their addiction that they can’t pull themselves out of their habit and die.

Families go crazy with mental and physical stress trying to find ways to help.  I want to let you know of an action that can be taken. It may seem like you are being mean or fear the alcoholic will hate you. I didn’t take this step for Lori because of the same fear.

The procedure is to go to court and file what is called Section 35 and it’s a civil commitment of a person that is having alcohol abuse or drug issues. A family member, police officer, guardian or a court officer petitions the court to section the individual, which means detain and send the substance abuser to a treatment center.  

The judge needs to find that the abuser’s drugs or alcohol use is substantially harmful to the abuser’s health, and their social or economic functioning or their loss of power with self-control over the use of drugs or alcohol.

After hearing the lawyer and doctor’s testimony on the individual’s heath situation, the judge decides if their condition is life-threatening as a result of their addiction.  If the judge finds that their action is, they will be ordered to be committed for a period not to exceed thirty days. The abuser may be encouraged to stay voluntarily after the thirty days for additional treatment.

This action is something every individual family has to decide.  It’s a suggestion to what is available. I had the chance to file one on Lori and didn’t; something I will always regret. Once the alcoholic reaches the stage of being too sick to help themselves, we have to step in to help them survive.

[email protected]

Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis

Sequel: Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism


Blind to addiction

My daughter, Lori Lopes (Cahill), was born July 29, 1967 at Morton Hospital in Taunton, Massachusetts. She was my second daughter coming into the world four years after the birth of her sister, Debbie Lopes (Dutra), on May 14, 1963.

Lori had a personality once she started to walk and discovered the world and the people in it. By two years old, she delighted in any comical gesture of hers to make people laugh. She continued this wonderful habit throughout her life. Our house filled with her friends since Lori seemed to be the leader of the pack. I enjoyed each moment my daughter's girlfriends, and at times the boys in the gang, come over to our house. I knew where they were and loved all the neighborhood kids.


Debbie seemed to always have things go right in her life. She was the first born and became an adult too fast living in an alcoholic family. My daughters had their childhood robbed from them growing up and listening to parents fighting and waiting in fear that their father would be coming home late at night in a drunken state.

Lori’s life had been a struggle with two broken marriages, raising two children alone while she battled addiction and her secret of being bulimic.

On the outside, Lori made everyone think that she had no problems, but she hid her pain deep down inside, including away from her family. At the age of seventeen, Lori and Debbie at the age of twenty-one, lost their father when he was only forty-five years of age from cirrhosis of the liver.

It wasn't until Lori's was thirty-seven years old that the family came to realize that she had been following the same path as her dad. She had deeper problems that kept her frightened all her life and made her lose confidence in herself. Instead of talking about her pain, she turned to alcohol abuse and prescription drugs to numb her secrets.

How does a parent miss the signs, especially after losing a husband nineteen years earlier? Easily. Lori never came and told her family that she had been hurting or had been mentally upset with past traumas in her life.  

On November 22, 2006 after three alcoholic rehabilitation stays, Lori died at thirty-nine years of age at the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts. She was laid to rest with her father at the St. Patrick Cemetery in Somerset.

Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism is the sequel after I self-published Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis.

The memoirs are very honest, painful and emotional stories of losing a husband and child to a demon that became their killer. People say authors write to heal. We don’t. We have to figure out how we will go on living them never being in our life again. It's what we do with our time left on Earth that counts.

I became an Awareness Coach speaking to alcoholics, addicts and their families on the effect of alcoholism on the whole family. God has a way of putting an unknown path in front of us. We have to decide if we want to travel down it, and if we open our hearts to Him, the decision is easy.

My books are more on lessons for families to learn what I did wrong instead of being memoirs. They can be purchased on at or in Amazon.