When our son was born, my husband and I were so excited and full of anticipation for his future life. It was clear at a very young age that he was different from other children. He was more active, more agitated and it was difficult for him to settle into a routine or follow rules.

When he started elementary school, his behavior became much worse, and eventually he was diagnosed with ADHD. However, none of the prescribed drugs, behavior modification or counseling worked. Then, at age 10 he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and, with the right meds, he stabilized. Soon, I got my son back and his bipolar symptoms went away. After five years his psychiatrist said we could wean him off the meds as my son most likely had some sort of mood disorder, not bipolar disorder.

In junior high he discovered marijuana. Although I was worried, he was doing well in school and finally had friends. It was during this time that there was an incident with some friends at a party involving psychedelic drugs. When this happened, we tried to get him into treatment, but he refused saying he didn’t need it.

He got his first marijuana DUI at age 18 and spent 24 hours in jail. He said it was the worst thing he had ever experienced, and he was never going back. Unfortunately, he had more run-ins with the law.

After I filed for divorce from his dad, I let him know that I was moving into a smaller house, and he could no longer live with me. I felt relieved that I didn’t have the drama or the worry about what and who he was bringing into my house. He was 19 at the time.

We stayed in contact, and I occasionally helped him financially. At age 23, he was sentenced to four months in prison for a DUI. At this point, he seemed to be ready to turn his life around. When he was released, he found work and a place to live; he found hobbies and interests and we took a few trips together. I placed him on my insurance, and we scheduled him for a much-needed hernia repair. The surgeon gave him opioids for the pain, and that started him down the path of opioid addiction.

In 2019 he lost a close friend to an opioid overdose. This sent my son into a spiral that had him facing prison time. For the first time he admitted to me that he was an addict, that his life was a chaotic mess and he was scared.

At this point, I knew that this was bigger than me, and there weren’t many people I could talk to about it without being judged. As I was researching rehab programs, I learned about PAL and knew that this was exactly what I needed. It turned out the group met at a church near my house. From the very first meeting, when we went around the room introducing ourselves, I knew that I had found my people – I felt safe, comfortable and didn’t feel judged.

As a parent of an addicted child, I found myself addicted to my son, but with PAL, that has changed. I’ve learned that I must take care of and educate myself, and I can’t “fix” my son.

My son has been clean and in recovery for over a year (God is good, all the time)! This was a journey I never expected to make with my son. But, with the support of my PAL group and faith in God, I am learning so much about addiction and recovery, and now I have hope for the future.

-A PAL Mom