We raised two children, a son and daughter. Our son was a gifted student and a good athlete who began playing hockey at age 5 and continued until he began high school. We raised him in a loving home and like most parents we had certain things we liked and approved of and other things we discouraged.
We noticed as he got a little older, he became more headstrong. He took a liking to punk rock music in junior high and things seemed different. In ninth grade, his interest began to steer away from sports and more to punk rock and a new group of friends whom my wife and I did not approve of. Unbeknownst to us, our son began trying marijuana and other drugs at that time. He was masterful at keeping this hidden. Sadly, we just did not see how bad it was getting.
Upon graduating from high school, our son chose to move to another state about 2,000 miles away against our wishes. He told us this city had the music scene he was looking for. While in his new place, he joined a band and began working in food service. It was during this initial period of two to three years that his experimentation with drugs increased, as did alcohol abuse. Being in another state, we simply did not see all these changes, but we feared things were not going well.
Over time, our son gravitated to alcohol as his drug of choice. In the ensuing years, he had two DUIs and was required to attend outpatient rehabilitation treatment twice. We of course found about these issues and could not help but tried to talk to him about changing. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to be getting through and we felt helpless so many miles away. During this time, he married a woman who was a severe drug addict with apparent mental illness issues. The next thing we knew, they had a son – what a game changer.
It was no longer just our son and his wife, but now we had a grandson and our concerns took a different turn. We were now fearing neglect of our grandson while our son and his wife were together, and both were having drug/alcohol issues. We eventually had the local police conduct wellness checks and were urged to start a paper trail with the state’s child protective services. Visits made by police and child protective services however, found nothing upon which to act.
During the height of our son’s addiction, we were manipulated into providing money on demand. At that time, my wife learned about PAL and we started attending. The value of PAL cannot be adequately expressed. We learned about the physiological impact of substance abuse, the behaviors they will exhibit (including manipulation of family members), how to respond with firm love, and how to recognize when an addicted loved one is recovering. Most importantly we learned how to start down the road to health and find joy in life again – even with an addict child.
Finally, early one morning we saw a national news story about our grandson who had gone missing on a cold winter evening, wearing only a diaper and T-shirt. Our greatest fears were now playing out in the news as they frantically launched a search for him. The police were also investigating his parents now and we waited to hear what would happen.
We were so relieved when our precious grandson was found alive 12 hours later after surviving in extremely cold weather sleeping under some bushes. He was immediately placed in foster care which ended up lasting for a year. We believe that God kept him alive and kept him safe with a wonderful foster mom while we tried to figure out how to get involved while living in another state. After much work and determination our grandson was subsequently awarded to us as guardians.
Things are still in flux with our son, but we are hopeful, and we are grateful for the education and support provided by PAL.
A PAL mom and dad