I’m a PAL mom.  I am married and have two children – a son and a daughter.

My son was always on the go 24/7. He was never a sit-around-the-house child.  He loved sports – at some point, he played just about every sport.  From an early age, he was smart. He excelled at school, and always had great grades. He was also very social and had tons of friends.

Drug and alcohol addiction was around our entire family.  Even though I never had a substance abuse problem, I had an addiction to the chaos. My kids were around family that exposed them to things I shouldn’t have allowed. In my marriage, I allowed our issues to play out before my kids. But I never thought all this was affecting my kids. To my son, this chaos was normal, so when alcohol and drugs became accessible to him when he was about 12 years old, it was very easy for him to make the wrong choice.  He started out with alcohol here and there then progressed to over the counter (OTC) medication mixtures, then to marijuana. This continued behind my back until his first arrest at 16 years old.

He was placed on probation with the courts, and the arrest scared him into a temporary change. But, when the courts failed to follow through, it wasn’t long before he was sneaking around again. None of the things I tried at home were getting through to him. In a last-ditch effort, I picked him up from high school one day and took him to his probation officer demanding they drug test him. He, of course, failed the test and this allowed me to beg the court to put in an order for treatment. He finished his first inpatient treatment at age 17.

He graduated high school and went on to college (where he, of course, excelled). Everything seemed to be going well. Unfortunately, during his third year of college, the signs crept back – asking for money, sleeping for days, irritable all the time, etc. We found out that he had developed an addiction to pain meds that stemmed from a hydrocodone prescription he received when he got his wisdom teeth taken out. Wanting help, but refusing to drop out of college, we found him an outpatient clinic.  He got clean quickly, but it didn’t last long. The years following college graduation, he totaled his vehicle while using, got arrested several times for theft and then DWI and he became homeless, hopeless, and addicted to heroin.

We tried everything.  We begged him, got mad at him, guilted him, got others to talk to him – nothing worked. His addiction kept getting worse and our family was falling apart.  I finally realized that I cannot fix him, he must fix himself. I also had to stop shielding him from the consequences of his drug use.  And I had to replace my “if I don’t help him, this/that will happen” thinking. Once I did these things, he had to deal with his addiction himself and things got bad for him real fast.

I found PAL through one of the many organizations I turned to for support. PAL helped me and others understand how to support our loved ones without enabling them. How to set boundaries and stick to them. How to let our loved ones go without letting go. And provided us a safe place to share our bad news and good news.

My son hit a bottom on July 10, 2017.  He called in a panic and wanted help. He entered a nine-month faith-based program and has been clean and sober ever since. He is thriving in his recovery and no longer uses drugs and alcohol to deal with his problems or life.

Life is better now. My family is better.  My relationship with my son is better. My life does not center around my son’s addiction anymore. I still struggle with worry about relapse. I still find myself looking for the signs and then feeling guilty because of doubting him. That’s why I needed PAL and the support to deal with my addicted loved one.

-A PAL Mom