How Learning Can Save a Loved One

Mt. Laurel’s Double Oak Community Building has resumed hosting in-person PAL (Parents of Addicted Loved Ones) meetings, Mondays, 6:30 – 8:00 pm.

Social pressures are difficult on a good day, but the volatility of our world today has increased these pressures tenfold. Unfortunately, the outlet of choice for so many is drugs and alcohol and yes, this applies to our kids as well.

I wish PALs and the organization that makes these meetings possible, the Addiction Prevention Coalition (APC), existed when my son was battling addiction.

When he was in high school, I threated to move us to Montana, telling him, “It will be just me, you and God.” Crazy right? The motivation? Fear.

Do you question if the change from pizza delivery will still be on the counter in the morning? Have you had to hide your keys to the car under your pillow? Does your stomach feel nauseous when the caller ID pops up with your loved one’s name? You could be in the bondage of addiction. And, regardless of who is addicted; there is shrapnel.

The emotional roller coaster of living with an addicted loved one is like carrying an emotional package that can explode at any time, and the shrapnel hits everyone…even if you are not directly in the path.

In the same way you are told to throw a life raft to someone drowning because their panic can pull you under if you dive in, so goes the desperation of addiction.

I have lived in Shelby County for just over ten years. I knew about OxyCotin because my mother had developed an addiction to it years earlier. Heroine however was not on my radar. I knew my son had a problem. He had been in rehab for “Oxies,” but it was never openly called opioid addiction; to me OxyCotin was a prescription drug.

Shelby County was just beginning to acknowledge the hold opioids had on the community. There were limited resources at the time. Narcan was not in my vocabulary and parent help groups did not exist.

In January of 2014 I broke into the bathroom to find my son turning blue with a needle in his arm. The result, a fatal overdose.

I should have known right? I did. But I was also just learning “oxcies” was heroine. In 2013 a revealing conversation with my son educated me on the signs I missed early on in his journey to addiction. It was painful. He asked me to help other parents to know the red flags; “I don’t want other kids to go through this mom.”

He was only 25 years old. We had a loving relationship, but the addiction had toxic impacts on both of our lives and our entire family. Unless you have lived in the bondage of addiction, it is not possible to understand its desperation.

Today’s social environment is like quicksand to the addicted…the chaos, isolation, anxiety, and conflict are all anchors that pull at the tormented mind of the one in bondage to addiction.

I attended the initial meeting of the first PALS class in Shelby County. I wish this group existed during my battle.

The pandemic required the classes to pause but they have resumed.

If you even think your child is on the brink of exposing themselves to the epidemic of substance abuse, please go. There is no shame in educating yourself. It could save a life of someone you love.

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