I am blessed to be a wife, a mother and a grandmother. I have three children, two step children from my current marriage, and 5 wonderful grandchildren. I have what would appear to anybody on the outside to be a normal life. But there has been trauma throughout my entire life caused by the disease of addiction in my family. My grandmother was addicted to pain killers back in the 70’s, and my sister has 26 years in remission from alcohol addiction. My ex-husband has 18 plus years in remission. I did not understand substance use disorder the way I do today.
In March 2011, my world was turned upside down. My youngest son cried out for help. It was a total shock to me when I found out he was shooting heroin. He had struggled on and off for years with substance use, from about 16 years of age. His first stent in rehab is when he had just turned 18.
As a part of this journey my husband and I adopted two of our grandchildren, my younger sons, whom we’ve had with us over seven years. By the grace of God, their father is now over 5 years in his recovery/remission and is very much in their lives, transitioning back into the role of primary parent.
Both of my sons have struggled with issues of addiction since they were 16/17 years old. So this is a journey we have been walking for a long time. My older son has had many issues starting as young boy. For many years I thought I was alone. The stigmas kept me from talking to very few about it. I did everything in my power to “fix it”. I was consumed by my children’s addiction. Spending money, writing contracts, arranging rehabs, and countless sleepless nights. Jumping every time the phone rang – sure that this was going to be “the call” that every parent fears. I was sure my sons were going to die. I planned their funeral, even as far as looking at pictures I would have to use.
Where there is Life there is Hope!
My life seemed to spiral out of control until years ago when I was led to a face-to-face parent support group and a wonderful counselor. It was the beginning of my own recovery from co-dependency and learning to love my children who suffer from substance use disorder in a whole new way in order to regain peace in my own life.
As a part of my own recovery, I came to realize that I was as sick, if not sicker, than my sons. My addiction was not to drugs or alcohol; it was doing every insane thing imaginable as I tried to save my sons from the chaos and destruction that resulted from their addiction. I wanted their recovery more than they did. Everything I did to change their life seemed to fail and cause misery and heartache to my husband and myself. Through a very long process I came to realize that my efforts to “fix” the addiction were many times just me standing in the way of letting happen what needs to happen for them to find their own way.
I have discovered that self-care is vital in being able to handle all that comes with having children of addiction. It is a long and difficult journey to get to the place of living the serenity prayer we always recite: to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Today, I continue to work my own program of recovery so that I can live a peaceful life regardless of where my loved ones are in their own journey with this disease. I understand today they have a disease – a mental disorder – that we have traditionally called addiction. They are my sons who suffer from that terrible brain chemistry disease called Substance Use Disorder. I have learned to love my children for who they are, whether in active addiction or in recovery.
It is a result of this journey that my purpose has been discovered and my passion has been ignited. Having walked this journey I know how extremely hard it is to navigate through. I want to give back to others some of what I have learned from my own experiences. Hence we formed The Addict’s Parents United. If I can be a catalyst in organizing a group of parents to come together to give strength and hope to one another as we walk this difficult journey, ultimately bringing awareness and meaningful change to the perception and treatment of addiction, then my passion will be fulfilled.
Through our closed Facebook pages, we provide a safe place to share and support one another. We also work with many others throughout our communities. Our message is focused on giving hope, with the utmost emphasis on self-care, as we navigate through the devastation that is caused by addiction. As our membership has grown, we have become more involved in public advocacy for needed change in the way our society views and treats addiction. We are active in the advocacy for change in the current judicial approach of incarceration, of those who suffer with addiction, which has been both costly and ineffective. Besides our main closed support page we offer sub-groups for those of us raising grandchildren and another for those that have lost a child. We also have a Public group called TAPU Alliance and a Community page.
The Addict’s Parents United
To see Mark Stewart's profile click here
TAP United was originally founded as a support system for parents who have one or more loved ones who have the disease of addiction, and for those who have lost one or more loved ones from this disease.