And I can usually tell by the tone of their message how long their child has been using. If they talk about how well they did in school this is usually their first attempt to get help.
They give themselves away by saying things like:
"She was a 4.0 student."
"He was the class president."
"He was a football star."
"She'd been accepted at such and such college."
Then they tell me what the kid needs. To get out of their old neighborhood. Stay away from their friends. Get a little clean time so they can get back to their lives. They think that'll do it.
Now the mothers who are plain tired and burned out are much more realistic. And their kids have been at it a while. They write things like:
"I've got a restraining order against him because he threatened his step-father."
"Or she took my credit cards and maxed them out and now we're broke. I'm sick of her."
"We want him/her out of the house. Can you help?"
"He just got out of jail for the third time and I can't have him living here."
They usually don't tell me what the kid needs because they know they don't have the answers. They're just fed up and want him/her to be elsewhere. And the Arizona desert sounds great to them - even in July.
I have a heart for both kinds of mothers because my own mother didn't know what to do with an addict like me. She also was optimistic at first about my chances and was willing to help. But eventually she got burned out. That's when she told me she couldn't help anymore. That's also the message that started me on the path to recovery.
No matter which mother writes us we offer help. We know they don't have the answers.
But because we've been there we know how to help those who are willing. And we suggest they send them to us.