My son began smoking pot in middle school when he was fourteen. His grades started declining and he became lethargic and had no interest in anything. He got caught smoking pot in the tenth grade and was expelled. His father and myself decided to send him to a prep school. His situation got worse as he continued to smoke. In his senior year he was expelled for smoking pot on school grounds of the prep school. We were afraid he wouldn’t graduate, but fortunately he did.
After graduation he went to Boston to live with his girlfriend. He began using more, and also selling drugs. We he was driving an expensive car and not working. He always had cash. He called us one day to say he was really sick and could we make a doctor’s appointment for him. When he came home he admitted he had a drug problem and needed help. He agreed to go to detox, then rehab for 28-days rehab. After he completed he moved back in with us. He stayed clean with support from his siblings and us. We were also introduced to Al-anon at that time
Six months later, he returned to using drugs and went back to the same 28 day rehab, but left within a few days. The buying, selling, stealing, lying and using continued. Working with a therapist, we convinced him to go to prominent 28-day rehab in California. His third week there was family week, which we attended along with his brother. However, in the middle of the week he left campus and began using drugs again. We met with him and his therapists the next morning and he was asked to leave. This was one of the saddest days of my life. We continued family week without him and we spoke to an empty chair. Things continued on the same path. However, we finally told him that he could no longer live in our home.
My son finally received the gift of desperation. He and his dad went to Florida and interviewed at three different rehabs and chose one. He was admitted in January of 2002. A month or so later, Michael Herbert, my son’s therapist called to say that my son wasn’t really doing well in this treatment program. I pleaded with Michael to try harder, as we had told our son this was the last time we would pay for treatment.
Michael answer to that was for us to step back focus on yourselves and allow your son to sink or swim. We continued telephone sessions with Michael and started to attend al-anon regularly. For the first time our son wasn’t being coddled and we were not able to save him. He needed to experience the consequences of his choices.
Soon after there was turning point when my son broke down. Michael refused to work with him until he demonstrated change. He finally began to take his recovery seriously. Again we went to family week. This time my son stayed and completed the family program. We continued to speak with Michael and focus on our recovery. Having weekly calls and reminded us of the work we needed to do. We also went to al-anon, this really worked for us.
In our recovery my husband worried less and feels more freedom. We are able to share in the lives of our other children equally. I had lost myself in my son’s disease. If someone asked me how I felt, I would burst into tears. I could not speak. One day someone asked me to be the speaker at a meeting. I panicked, but agreed to do it. I had learned by then to be able to talk through my tears. I got a sponsor and continued to work my program. I learned how the disease of addiction affected me and how I treated others as a result my need to control and fix my son. I made amends to my other children and family members. My life turned around. I’ve been able to live my life and gain freedom through my recovery as a mother. I’ve honored to have by Michael have mothers call me to share my experience, strength and hope. I now sponsor others who help me as much as I help them.
I got a life! I don’t focus on what I lost, but on what I’ve gained. On my son’s first year anniversary, he spoke at his meeting, and thanked us for never giving up hope.
Today my special word is gratitude. I am so grateful for my son’s recovery, my recovery, and Al-anon. I’m also grateful for Michael sticking with us through this process.
Update, fourteen years later my son is happily married thriving at work and is clean. He gives back to the family rather than taking from us. He asks us how we are doing today. We talk openly about our own recoveries and the work we do in it. Last year our son gave us a special gift our first grandson. I am comforted to know that my grandson has also been given the gift of recovery as the work we do is passed down to him.
Recovery has brought our dreams and hopes to reality. Change happens when you work for it.
A Mother In Recovery
Recovery is hard work. There are no simple solutions. On there own 28- day programs don’t work. Today’s addict and family need long-term solutions. Addiction hurts! Addiction is chronic, progressive, and fatal if untreated. Families are the key to successful recovery. Family involvement is a must. Recovery is a life long process. The typical family program works for the short term, but this is a chronic illness and relapse can happen.
Developing awareness and becoming active in your families recovery is what works. Families can recover together. Structured Family Recovery™ can be the solution for your family. If Doctors and Pilots can raise their recovery rates why can’t you. Call me for more information on what really works.