We are a blended family – my children became the children of my spouse as I had both children and grandchildren prior to our marriage.

My son was such a beautiful child. He was always happy and inquisitive.  He was very interested in science and biology and loved all things sports. He loved knowing the why of things. But, his entire demeanor changed around the age of 11 when he didn’t make the basketball team. The coach told him he was too little to be effective and he had no future in sports. That forever changed him. He became angry and maintained that angry attitude from that moment on.  

After a divorce he felt left out and was unsure of himself. No matter how much reassurance he was given it was never enough. His intelligence and gift for dealing with people came in handy when he changed schools; however, some of the friends he made introduced him to marijuana. That began his journey to addiction. He used it for years.

By the time he was 20 years old he was using an array of different drugs from pain killers to depression medication all that he bought on the street. Then at 28 years old he was in an accident and the doctors prescribed pain killers that led to a full-blown opioid addiction. He detoxed himself over and over throughout those years, but it never lasted. From there he graduated to fentanyl.  Everything came to a head when he lost his job and was arrested and charged with three felony counts.

I tried talking to him and holding him accountable but nothing I ever said mattered. He was smarter than everyone else. He knew how to be an addict. He was good at it. He wouldn’t accept anything else until he was faced with detoxing in jail. That’s when he made the decision that he needed rehab (he is still in recovery today).

My friend asked me to co-facilitate a PAL meeting. I Immediately agreed. I had been praying for two weeks for an avenue to help someone else who was experiencing the same things I was going through. She had been asking God for someone to help her facilitate – He answered both our prayers!

Knowing that I will never feel alone in this battle is what I cherish most about PAL. Knowing I have the tools to face whatever comes our way is my second favorite aspect of this program. Learning the 3 C’s, “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it” has made all the difference in my ability to help him be successful in his recovery. I now understand more about his mindset and how to talk with him in a way he can understand and accept.

I’ve been facilitating PAL meetings for a while now and it’s been a wonderful experience. As a parent I’m learning as much as I’m sharing with other parents. It also has changed my relationship with God. I’m so much more reliant on my faith than ever before. My family and I pray that our story helps someone continue with or find a PAL program to assist their journey as a loved one of someone with substance use disorder.

-A PAL Mom

*Names have been changed to protect identities