For me, reaching my rock bottom was critical. My friend told me about putting her son in New Life House and I thought she was nuts. I simply could not understand why on earth she would put her son in a program that lasted for such a long time. We were putting our son in a program for six months and he could still attend college because college was very important. Boy, were we wrong!
It was interesting that she never told me she thought we were wasting our time and money, but she HAD tried two other programs that had not worked, and the six month program was our first. Of course we knew what we were doing because we were told the program would work and we wanted to believe it.
We were so uneducated, even though we had no idea that we were and the idea of alcoholism as a disease was never mentioned or discussed by the many professionals with whom we drove many hours to regularly meet with. The team of professionals we met with included a medical doctor who specialized in substance abuse, a psychiatrist as well as trained counselors. What they did discuss were his problems; he couldn’t sleep, he was depressed, he couldn’t focus, etc. Many prescriptions were written for our son so he could function. We put our faith into this team of professionals, as they had credentials, training, and experience working with other students who were experiencing similar problems.
Sometimes I wonder what they really told us. Did I not hear (listen to) what they said? Did I not want to hear it? Did they really not mention alcoholism? Why were they just attempting to treat the symptoms? Why did they not mention Al-anon for us; or did they? Why would they put such a young individual on so many prescriptions? The bigger question is why, as a parent, would we allow and support our son being on so many prescriptions?
I think the answer to the last question is that we didn’t know what else to do and we wanted to believe what they were doing would work. We were desperate parents whose son had confided in them that he had a problem and he needed help. When we met with them it seemed to make sense at the time, and after all, they were trained, credentialed professionals in the area of substance abuse. We certainly were not. We were simply parents who loved our son immensely, were scared to death, and quite desperate to receive help for our son.
It took years of riding the emotional roller coaster and trying to control our son’s disease before we finally accepted that what we were doing was absolutely not working. It took years before we put our son in New Life House and discovered Al-anon. It took years before we learned about detaching with love and began to understand what the disease of alcoholism really entailed.
I believe it took years, and I do mean many years, because we weren’t ready to accept reality. We lived in denial, which included pain and fear for such a long time. I think the change came when we finally realized our son was most likely going to die if something didn’t change. It was our rock bottom. Now, as I look back to when my friend put her son in New Life House and we put our son in a six-month program, I wonder what my response to her would have been if she had told me were making a mistake and that we should have put our son in New Life House at that point. My guess is that I would have thought and/or told her she was wrong. Timing is everything and everyone’s rock bottom is different, but I’m sure glad we reached ours when we did. Thankfully, our son is sober, happy, and successful. We are so grateful!