Substance Abuse

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Guilt but Never Despair

What did we do wrong?  How could we have averted this problem?  These and many other questions haunted my husband and me.  Our son, Steve, at age 17, had been expelled from military school for using marijuana.  This happened in April, just six weeks before he would have completed a very successful year.  Prior to this incident we had had some indication of his drinking and drug use, but we did not know the extent of his involvement.

Part of the agreement we made with Steve before he left for military school was that if he were expelled for any reason he would not be welcome in our home.  Although it was a difficult decision at which to arrive, we felt it was necessary to prevent Steve from forcing an expulsion should he tire of the regimen.  We still feel that it was the right decision (what experts call “tough love”), even though he became more deeply involved with drugs while living with a friend in Chicago.  We refused to support him financially as long as he was abusing drugs.

At the same time we demonstrated tough love we also exhibited unconditional love.  We  let him know that he could call us anytime, and when we did talk, we always assured him of our love.

The two things that helped us to survive those difficult four months were prayer and support of friends through calls, prayers, and assurances.  Once, when especially low, I asked God for a passage from his Word to give me faith.  Immediately the story of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15:11-32 came to mind.  I knew that God was providing me with hope just when I needed it.  I was able to picture our son’s repentant return to our home.

In August, God sent us an angel dressed in a cook’s jacket.  Unknown to us, this young caterer was a recovering drug addict.  Steve had come home from Chicago for a family party, and the sensitive chef began asking him questions.  Before long Steve confessed his addiction to him, and shortly thereafter we enrolled Steve in a recovery program at Hazelden Pioneer House (the juvenile division of Hazelden Recovery Center in Center City, Minnesota).

God worked a miracle in our son, and we are thrilled to report that after six weeks of treatment and countless AA meetings, he is still sober!

Steve has been true to his twelve-step program and helps others with similar problems when the situation arises.  His testimonies to the children to whom I teach drug prevention in the public school has made me very proud, as has his agreement to write a letter to a friend’s son who is struggling with drug addiction.   The frosting was put on the cake when Steve asked for my friend’s address stating, “I wrote a letter to his mom too.  I wanted her to know that it was undoubtedly a combination of factors that contributed to her son’s addiction, and that she should not feel guilty about anything that she did which might have influenced him to become addicted.”

God has not only brought my “prodigal” son back home and given him a new life;
God has also given me the assurance, through Steve, that he did not blame me or his
father for his problem.                                                         -Ginger

Substance Abuse – Wisdom for the Caregiver

For additional caregiving advice, refer to the following categories on this website: “Caregiving Basics.”

The above advice is from  The Compassionate Congregation, pages 179-184.