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Montana mom details daughter’s alcohol addiction in new book

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Posted at 5:07 PM, Nov 17, 2022

BILLINGS — One Montana mom is pairing her professional career at the Rimrock Foundation in Billings with a very personal story: her daughter’s alcohol addiction.

Author Melanie Schwarz is launching her book "Lifejackets" with an important message: You can’t save someone drowning in a disease, but you can support them.

“I think as a mother, your initial instinct is, I need to save them, I need to provide resources, I need to find them help. I just kept doing it over and over and for me, it felt like I kept putting a life jacket on her thinking I was saving her, and she would just take it off and throw it to the side and continue down her path,” says Schwarz.

“I really encourage anybody that has been affected by addiction to read this book. It's a very raw story and some parts of it are hard to read,” says friend and colleague Julie Hartman.

Schwarz's daughter Morgan is now 33, thriving in Spokane as a barber. She is happily married, but life hasn’t been an easy river to float with a full decade of sobriety struggles, relapses and multiple DUIs. Her last landed her in court-ordered treatment.

“During this time, she and I spent a lot of time together because she wasn’t able to drive, and so I would drive her to her meetings and we spent a lot of time in the car. We started talking about what she wanted,” says Schwarz. “I realized I should stop trying to save her. I probably wasn’t going to be the one to save her, and what I really needed to do was to learn about the disease and learn about what I could do."

Now, five years into Morgan's sobriety, this mother’s book details the difficult journey through a mom’s eyes in an effort to lift the stigma on addiction.

"Everybody has a story and it's amazing to me, and that’s exactly why I wrote this book. I want people to talk about it,” says Schwarz.

Morgan agrees, and gave her mom full permission to write their story.

“It was hard for her to read, but we did it together and it ended up being a book that we are both really proud of, and we are hopeful we can help other families,” says Schwarz.

“I would give Melanie’s book a five-star rating,” says Hartman.

In addition to Schwarz’s work at Rimrock, she volunteers for Substance Abuse Connect and Alternatives.