What crisis brought you to recovery? This past June our 23-year-old son came to live with us for a time. He was with us for about a month and decided to hit the road and take a vacation during the pandemic! When he returned a week late from his vacation, he was high. We knew there had been some usage of substances but really had no idea of the extent or how it had taken over his life. He was living away from home the past 4 years and was a master at covering up his addiction when we visited. We were somewhat uneducated about drug addiction and never would have thought our son would use substances to cope with life. Looking back now there were some glaring clues, but we just weren’t reading them.
Had you ever heard of Al-anon or Nar-anon before this crisis? My husband and I were aware of Al-anon since another member of my husband’s family is an alcoholic. We had attended some meetings many years ago to help us with this relationship. Nar-anon was new to us though and we did check out the in-person meeting in our area during the pandemic, but we found a better fit for us at an on-line national PAL meeting. We have been attending that regularly and I have been asked to be a co-facilitator of that meeting. It has been a particularly important part of our recovery.
What have you learned about the importance of family members recovery? I think our biggest take-away from attending the on-line Parent group at Turning Point, our PAL meetings and the Nar-anon meetings is that when we work on our recovery, we are really doing something for our addicted loved one as well as ourselves. My husband and I are focusing on the joy and goodness of each day in our lives and not on our son’s daily journey. Each day has its own joys and trials, and we are trying to face them and make the changes we need to make in ourselves to become healthier. We hope we can be an example to our son of what it can mean to live a fulfilling and joyful life. We love the adult relationship we are establishing with him and cheering him on through the triumphs and the difficulties. I knew for us this was the right approach when our son thanked us for realizing we were all in recovery and that it wasn’t just his problem to face on his own.
Did you have any reluctance in accepting your need for your personal recovery? Meaning, did you ever have thoughts of “I don’t have a problem so why do I am I the one who needs help? My first thought of attending meetings was to find out what I could do to help my son get better. After all, he is the addict. As I listened to the professional counselors, I realized I could not help my son, but they could. They are the professionals in this area, not me. As I listened further, I also heard these same professionals tell me we had our own recovery to work on. If they are qualified to help my son, I believe they also had good counsel for me. I took their guidance and have been so happy I did!
What would you tell family members who are considering their own recovery? To other families that are considering recovery I would say the sooner the better. Jump in with both feet, be open to suggestions from professionals and those who have experienced a similar journey before you. Focus on today and make today a better day for you.
Have you experienced any stigma surrounding addiction and recovery? We have not yet experienced any stigma surrounding recovery or addiction. Our family and friends have been incredibly supportive of us and our son.
Is there anything else that you would like to add? You are not alone! There are people who will walk with you through this journey and there is hope.