A father drives five hours to see if his son is still alive.  He’s on Heroin and off the grid. “I think I’ll go tomorrow,” the dad says.  “I’d rather deal with this in the light of day.”  He can’t wait.  He leaves in an hour.

Four days later mom has joined and together they’ve spent hours and hours trying to find detox and treatment for their son who sort of wants it.  It’s a gamble they’re willing to take even though they’ve been in this place before.  They talk to me from a hotel where their son needed to “take a break” from the negotiations and leave the room.  They are frustrated, afraid and uncertain and long to hear a treatment facility say, “Yes, we have an open bed right now — bring him over.”                            Silhouette of a firefighter in action

Finally, a friend of a friend of Ted’s friend spends two hours telling them everything he knows about treatment in that city.  Apparently he knows a lot.  He’s been through it all before with his son. He tells his own story to this little desperate family on speaker phone.  It’s a powerful account and mom and dad look for signs of impact in their listening son’s body language.

My friend Sandi says it well, “If your child had cancer, or diabetes you’d be inundated with help. But when your child is addicted, that’s a different story.”

“Whoa Sarah,” you may say.  “I thought this website was a place of hope. This is freakin’ depressing.”  It kind of is, but it kind of isn’t. You think you’re alone and then God puts someone in your path who is just what you needed, or someone who knows someone and they calm you down. Or they say, “I know how that feels,” or “That’s what happened with us too,” or “What worked for me was…” or “Try calling this counselor,” and you may not have a definitive answer but you have less fear and some resources to pursue. You have a new person praying for you.

Maybe there’s a recommendation of a book or a family session on next steps¹.  An overwhelmed parent might hear, “I know a professional who can suggest treatment options.  Her son struggled.”²  They are relieved. They discover that other parents gather to get help for themselves at Al Anon or the CJ Lomas Family Support Group or Addiction Resource Council of Waukesha County.

Sometimes a mom like me gets to talk to a parent whose child has not yet chosen recovery and that anxious mom or dad sees and hears that people can and do get well.  “Just looking at Ted gives me hope,” one mother told me.  “Things could completely turn around today,” I like to say. “Recovery could start tomorrow, or the next day. In the meantime, know that you are not alone.” You never really were.


Peter Kreeft is credited with the title of this blog from his writing, “Shared Hells.”

¹Your Choice to Live hosts a “One Family to Another” session with parents or families who need direction in what to do next in a situation with a child struggling with substance abuse.

²Judi Bessette is an Educational Consultant with Compass Consulting.