We have a rather large family with three children, two in-laws and multiple grandchildren.

Our addicted loved one was a total joy growing up. Our child never met a stranger because everyone became a friend, and he could very easily get an entire room laughing at one of his antics. This was a child that was always well-mannered and, if you were talking with him, you were treated like you were the only one in the room, quite smart, funny and a leader.

Our loved one was one of the smart kids. Always doing his homework, excelling at school and not a troublemaker, that is, until high school. Recently I asked our loved one what the reason was he started doing drugs and the words were hard to believe, “because I was bored.” That is how it started right up until the time that the choice of doing drugs was taken out of his hands and using became a need to survive. He described it like this: users start at zero, and when they take drugs, they reach a ten. When it changes from user to addiction, an addict feels like they are at a negative three and just want to get back to zero. This explanation helped me visualize and better understand the situation.

My addicted child started with muscle relaxers, then marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and finally ended with heroin. We fought, we lectured, we had a cop come and talk and nothing worked. We tried counseling, grounding and taking him away for the summer to get away from “friends.” None of that worked. At 15 years old, we put him into intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) for six weeks. He went to another facility at age 18, which was a 30-day program. We all thought that was the end of it…we were wrong.

However, he ended up detoxing on his own when he was 20, at home, which I would not recommend.

During this time when our son was getting treatment, we met Mike Speakman (the founder of PAL). He counseled our family and our child. He told us about a support group for parents where you could voice your concerns, get an education and feel supported on our journey. Although I couldn’t voice anything at our first meeting, we continued to go. We moved to a new location with a much smaller group and the facilitator was amazing. He helped us understand our role in the situation and what changes we could make to potentially help our child. We stood a little straighter after those meetings and took back our lives that had been in upheaval for several years.

When we moved to a new state 10 years ago, we were trying to figure out where we could help the most and landed back to PAL. It taught us so much about our addicted loved one but on top of that, how to navigate our relationships with our other adult children who did not suffer with addiction. What we did not realize at the time is that addiction is a family disease, and everyone is affected by it in their own way. We have been facilitators now for almost five years and it has been such a blessing to watch others stand a little taller, smile and laugh again.

By the grace of God, my child has been sober for 12 years and a professional in his industry for 10 years. He has a strong faith in Christ, and is in a committed relationship and has had relationships in the family renewed.

We have our child back and nothing could be better. Thank you, PAL.

– a PAL parent