I don’t know which is more painful: witnessing your son under the influence of some unknown substance or wondering if he is dead or alive with each siren in the middle of the night. We just wanted our son back. The real Austin had been taken hostage by lies, disrespect, anger, and apathy.
Our son left our home during his senior year in high school. He spent the next 1 1/2 years couch-surfing and experimenting with who knows what? The only time we heard from Austin was when he was demanding money from (his) savings account or begging to come home. But he refused to agree to our terms.
Based on good, solid advice from our family counselor, Will W., New Life House was the only option that we made available to Austin. Keith and I attended parent meetings that featured New Life graduates and were so impressed after hearing the success stories. We knew this is what Austin needed. Unfortunately, he didn’t think “that kind of help” was for him…he felt he had it all under control. So Austin continued floating from place to place while never holding down a legitimate job.
Early in 2016, we thought our prayers had been answered. Austin admitted that he was tired of living on the streets and agreed to try New Life House. We were thrilled, but the joy did not last long as Austin walked out after staying only five days. He never gave the program a chance, claiming it was not for him – so he returned to the San Diego area and moved in with a friend.
Austin finally landed a job and found a sober living house about 10 miles away. We knew this was not comparable to New Life House, but we thought it was at least a step in the right direction. It wasn’t long before we were proven wrong. Even though he was able to maintain a work schedule, Austin failed to remain sober. He found ways to get around the drug testing and was using even harder substances with the other guys in that house.
Desperately in need of more money and with his accommodations closing down…Austin’s lifestyle was obviously unmanageable at this point. He had run out of options.
Recognizing that New Life House was his last chance, he resentfully gave in. Austin didn’t realize the whole new world that would be available to him once he was there.
The work required at New Life House is hard but yields life-changing results. It’s evident to us that Austin put in a significant amount of effort into absorbing the 12 Steps and has begun to apply them to his daily routine. Of the many valuable life lessons learned, these three stand out in my mind: responsibility, respect, and honesty.
The personal responsibility Austin learned at New Life House is remarkable. Starting with “make your bed,” the daily life lessons of taking care of yourself and your belongings expanded to contributing to the house. Now, Austin willingly volunteers for house and community responsibilities.
Through cooperative activities at New Life House and counseling sessions (that he has chosen to continue today), Austin has discovered patience and how to manage his emotions. He has learned to look within and understand more about himself. Because of this, it has taught him to be more respectful of himself and others, including his family relationships.
After learning that it’s okay to be vulnerable and allow himself to peel away his layers of denial, Austin has become honest with himself. In turn, he has realized that this honesty must carry over to his interactions with his “brothers” at New Life House through “pulling their covers” and keeping each other accountable. This positive trait has helped to reestablish his moral compass.
It is apparent by now that sobriety has given our son back to us…and more! No longer are we met with the self-absorbed, rude and angry teenager. It is so gratifying to know that Austin has transformed into a respectful, honest, responsible and sober young man with integrity. Absolutely none of this would have been possible without New Life House. We are all so grateful! We are thankful to have the new, real Austin back.