My name is Pat M. I’m the son of an alcoholic parent, the brother of a drug addict, and now the father of a daughter and a son who both suffer from the disease of substance dependency. My wife Brenda and I have similar family stories as our fathers both suffered from alcoholism. When we fell in love and eventually married after dating through high school, we vowed that we would not let substance dependency dictate the family we would create. But despite our best attempts to steer and guide our children away from addiction, we had to watch in horror as both of our children were slowly and insidiously swept away by substance dependency.
Like most families affected by this disease, there is so much more to this story than a short synopsis can capture.
For me, watching my son Sean fall deeper and deeper into addiction was like standing on the shore of a torrid river into which he had fallen and was being swept away; scared, drowning, helpless. Following Sean over the last four years of his journey into the horrible pit of heroin addiction was like running along the shore of that river. Now and then I would catch glimpses of him as he slowly but steadily was drowning. Ahead there was only faster, deeper, and stronger currents. Twice I was able to convince him to enter a treatment facility, not knowing anything about what to do.
The people in these treatment centers cared, but they didn’t know how to treat addiction, and Sean wasn’t ready to give up his personal demon, and he slipped back into hopeless addiction. I knew I would eventually lose him, and while I knew I could only watch, I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t stop hoping and trying what I could do to help him. But addiction is a disease that’s partly self-inflicted, so while he was caught up in this raging river, he kept himself there, knowing he was drowning but unwilling to give up the very thing that was slowly but surely killing him.
I watched as friends he’d known died from heroin overdosing. Every night I went to bed with visions of death, tragedy, hopelessness. The family I love so much was dying a slow death before my eyes, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
A good friend and coworker of mine, Janet H., knew about Sean’s plight and urged me to contact New Life House or Miracle house. In 2016, during a moment of clarity Sean agreed to call New Life House. On the other line was Avi. In a brief conversation, Avi tried as hard as he could to help Sean and to help me. But Sean wasn’t ready, and once again he succumbed to the iron grip of his disease.
And so it continued, month after month, until in July 2016 Sean reached out to me from Mexico, where he’d been living for the last four years. The economy of heroin addiction is such that living in Mexico allows a person to live inexpensively with the sole purpose of daily existence orbited around the central goal of injecting street heroin into a slowly dwindling number of sore and infected venous puncture sites. I would see him about every 2-4 weeks during this time to buy him some groceries and try my best to keep him from dying of hunger and malnutrition. Each time I would leave him after an hour or two visit I would watch him as he walked away, wondering if that would be the last time I would see him alive.
But this time when he called he asked me for something new. He asked me if he could enter New Life House. This time when I called for him I got Scott D., and just like Avi had tried 4 years earlier, Scott took on the challenge of trying to rescue Sean and in doing so, rescuing my family from disaster. By this time Sean had reached his rock bottom as he’d reached the inevitable end point where he was too sick to make enough money to keep going forward. He’d lost his small apartment, lost all his possessions. The clothes he wore and one long-sleeve shirt were the only things left he owned. I picked him up on August 3, 2016, after dropping everything at work and took him straight to Miracle House, where the staff was waiting to take him in to begin detox.
That was over a year ago. This past August, along with the many residents, family members, and the sober community of New Life Community I was able to help Sean celebrate his first and only year of sobriety since he started down this path over 15 years ago.
To me, New Life’s Miracle House is just that; it’s a miracle, plain and simple. I can’t begin to name all of the staff and members of the sober community that have helped Sean get to this point. I can never repay all the work, the caring, the dedication that brought my son out of the depths of hell and placed him at the doorstep of a new life. I’ll never forget the kindness of Avi, Scott, and all the other staff members, sober community members and the residents themselves who have helped Sean achieve over a year of sobriety. And I know that nothing in life is guaranteed. I know that ahead is a life of hard work, dedication, and service to the sober community. More importantly, Sean knows this. Today I can actually perceive a path to a new life that is achievable for Sean, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful for the miracle of Miracle House and the New Life House Recovery Community.