As I am writing this blog post, my son is in the hospital being treated for ketoacidosis and, yet again another detox.  At 37 years old, he can no longer tolerate the effects of alcohol, even after a short binge.

It is such a helpless feeling as a parent to watch as your child, no matter what age they are, destroys their bodies and their lives.

For the past 22 years, I’ve sought to find answers and help. My grief over the life path that this beautiful soul (the youngest of three sons) was and is traveling has pushed me to continue on a quest to learn as much as I can about addiction and treatment options.  I have studied multiple pathways, and in so doing, I’ve discovered that they can all be successful for some.  There is not “one right way to get sober”.

As a parent and spouse of active alcoholics/addicts, I remain alert to the latest studies surrounding this disease. There are so many new studies around addiction going on right now, it fills me with hope. Quitting has not been an option for me, though I support families who feel that that is their best option. Sometimes, it works! I believe families have to do whatever it is they can live with should the worst happen and their loved one loses their life.

Well-meaning people over many years in Al-Anon and some treatment centers like to use the word codependent for family members who continue to support a person with addiction. You may have heard, “Let them hit rock bottom,” or “They have to want treatment for it to be successful.” Some people don’t have a “Rock Bottom” and they die. Many other people have entered treatment because of family or legal pressure and have been very successful.  Overdoing support, for example, calling in sick for someone, overly indulging with gifts and support with the promise of sobriety (bribing/contracts), not setting your own boundaries thereby putting yourself at risk of personal harm, not living your own life, may not benefit you or your loved one.  However, I believe continued support and unconditional love is not codependent, but humane action toward a person with a very difficult disease.

My struggles with my son and other family members, led me to become a peer coach with Youturn Health. We walk along with families as they work through treatment options for their loved ones, offer support through the grief and fear they experience as family members caught up in the chaos of addiction, and help them live their best life.  Holidays and special occasions can be especially challenging for families as the pressure of “a perfect day” effects their loved ones, families are often left with broken promises and challenging choices. With Youturn Health, you are not alone.

Post author Heidi Woody is a Peer Coach at Youturn Health and works to support family members of a loved one struggling with substance misuse, stress, and grief. To learn more about substance use disorder (SUD), please visit our Substance Misuse page.