Anita Baglaneas Devlin: What It's Like to Drop Off Your Kid at Rehab

Reading: Letting Go of My Son

Love & Relationships

Letting Go of My Son

I couldn’t fix him, but I wasn’t sure anyone else could either

By Anita Devlin Baglaneas

My youngest going off to college meant the end of an era as a mother. I wouldn’t have to do all the things I had always complained about: cooking for my kids’ friends, doing endless amounts of laundry, and always coming second in their lives. But I’ve had a problem my entire life of not living in the moment but instead fearing the future and things not happening as the way I had planned. I was the ultimate control freak, and instead of enjoying the day, I worried that I would be blamed if Mike didn’t like this school. He had wanted to go to Springfield, and I talked him into UVM.

I was afraid of so many different things that I felt nauseated the entire day. Change is supposed to be a good thing, but I was petrified, wondering what the hell I was going to do for the second half of my life. It was all I could think about after giving my son a hug and saying goodbye. I felt empty.

Even though the sun was shining and everything was neat and tidy, just like it had been at UVM that morning, I had to keep reminding myself that this was not college. It was rehab. Son Of a Bitch — Everything’s Real kept slapping me in the face. This was happening. It was real.

anita devlin

Anita with her son, age 4

I was handing my son over to strangers to help him. Behind those walls, I had no control of keeping things in order and I felt like a failure because I hadn’t been able to fix my son. I didn’t want someone else to be the savior in my child’s life. I’m a mother and felt that if I can’t help him, then no one can. I had no faith in anyone but myself. Thoughts were rushing through my mind now:

Who were these people?

How are they going to help him?

They don’t even know him.

I felt as though I was losing my son, my faith, and my mind all at the same time. I was going deeper and deeper underwater trying to gasp for air, trying to reach for something to grab onto while trying not to drown. At one time that would have been my faith, but at this point, the only one I could have faith in was my son, and that frightened me. The realization that my son would have to commit to overcoming this evil was devastating to me. My faith was challenged every way I turned. Where was my God? Who is my son? I had no answers. I only had questions surrounded by fear and uncertainty.

I looked in the rearview mirror at my son. He looked very serene and even had a bit of a smile on his face. Was his smile sincere, or was this just another manipulative move on his part? I was so done with letting him manipulate us and I was also done with being the one that allowed it. I knew many times that he had been lying to us. I just didn’t know how serious the situation was. I didn’t know he was addicted to pills. I didn’t know a damn thing.

Excerpted from S.O.B.E.R.* Son Of a Bitch Everything’s Real by Anita Baglaneas Devlin and Michael Devlin Jr., copyright 2014. Reprinted with permission.



The Unpredictability of Grief (TheCovey, June 2018 issue)

Depression & Midlife: What Makes Us Especially Vulnerable After 50

Why You Can Benefit from a Spiritual Practice, Even if You Don’t Believe in God

4 Things You Should Never Do if You Suspect Your Child Might be Using Drugs (Facebook Live interview)

If you enjoy this content, JOIN NEST WITH COVEY and receive 12 FREE ISSUES of The Covey magazine delivered straight to your inbox each month! Our magazine features in-depth reporting, first-person stories, and special offers. All just for you.



  1. Angela Gardner

    Great snip-it! I bet Anita’s book is excellent. I can only imagine how hard that might be. I share something in common with the Anita. I am a codependent. After 18 years of marriage, I discovered my husband was buying oxy on the street…plus many other heartbreaking discoveries. I ended up ending the marriage. Our two children were heartbroken too. Once I learned all that I could about this disease, I made sure that my two kids understood they are highly susceptible. I found FAVOR Greenville, they introduced me to great family group meetings, children support groups and classes, and much more. I have been a Family Coach now for 5 years. I coach spouses and parents. We talk about healthy boundary setting, learning the only thing you can control is yourself :), educating about the disease, self-love, and finding ways to gain the love of life back. I love giving back. I wanted to write this because, I had people around me at the beginning of discovering that addiction had penetrated my family. I felt so alone and had no idea what was going on. Plus my husband was very good at gas-lighting (extreme manipulation and brainwashing). I found individuals that were or had experienced the same. This meant the world to me. So Kudo’s to Anita for helping others parents of spouses experiencing this world to know they are alone!

Tell us what you think.
Leave your comments below