Nurturing Hope Amidst Addiction 

Helena’s journey with her son Adam’s addiction began during his school years. His academic performance declined, and his parents’ separation during 6th form added to his emotional distress. After leaving school, Adam pursued a career in construction but soon fell into harmfully using drugs. Despite Helena’s attempts to intervene, her son’s addiction persisted, causing significant emotional and practical challenges for the entire family.

The impact of Adam’s addiction rippled through the family, The family received threats and felt unsafe due to dealings with dealers. leaving his grandmother devastated as she felt she had to pay off Adam’s drug dealers. Helena’s younger son experienced emotional stress, resulting in a damaged relationship. Helena’s marriage faced unexpected strain, and she felt reluctant to burden her friends with her struggles. The financial burden and time off work for compassionate leave further added to her challenges. 

“I watched my son Adam’s journey with addiction unfold from cigarettes and cannabis in school to the devastating grip of cocaine. A once good student, his academic performance declined, worsened by my husband and I separating during his 6th form. Over time, he fell deeper into drugs, leading to a distressing cycle of addiction lasting for over a decade. He escalated to cocaine, spent thousands of pounds on it, and received a one-year driving ban after being arrested for drug driving.

Interventions with his school friends proved unsuccessful, and his addiction greatly affected our family. It devastated his grandma, who paid off drug dealers, and we received a chilling photo of our house from a dealer with a threatening note saying, ‘I know where you live’.”

Helena | AFS Client

Discovery of Addiction Family Support (AFS)

Initially, Helena hesitated to seek help as she was focused entirely on supporting her son. However, timely advice from her GP urged her to prioritise her well-being. In 2021, a concerning letter from Adam’s landlord led Helena to find Addiction Family Support (AFS) online. Helena contacted the charity to access the help she desperately needed.

“I discovered AFS online but initially hesitated to seek help for myself as my focus was solely on supporting Adam. Only when my GP advised me to prioritise my well-being did I realise that I needed someone to talk to about my struggles, as I felt like a burden, constantly nagging my friends with my problems. The stress took a toll on me, and I even had to take compassionate leave from work to cope with the overwhelming emotions.

Eventually, I decided to reach out to AFS, and it turned out to be a lifeline for me. In their support groups, I found solace and a safe space where I felt less judged. Hearing stories from others who understood the challenges of addiction gave me hope and strength to navigate through this difficult journey.”

Helena | AFS Client

Engagement with AFS

Participating in AFS’s online support groups proved to be a lifeline for Helena. In the company of understanding individuals, she felt less judged and found solace in hearing stories of others who had faced similar struggles. The facilitator-led sessions provided practical help, such as navigating the complex world of addiction and rehab options. The support group discussions were pivotal in making decisions that prioritised Helena’s well-being and her son’s recovery.

“Engaging in a one-to-one session with AFS was efficient and straightforward, providing me with the much-needed support. I found someone who truly understood my struggles, and I am incredibly grateful for the time they dedicated to listening and helping me.

The people at AFS are truly like a lifeline, offering a safe and supportive environment. Hearing stories from others who had similar experiences made me realise that I was not alone in facing these challenges. In the support groups, there was no judgment, unlike the look on others’ faces, and the honesty and understanding received were invaluable. Trusting their expertise, I learned to address my feelings of being taken advantage of and gained the strength to set boundaries.”

Helena | AFS Client

Support Provided by AFS

AFS’s support went beyond practical assistance; it encouraged Helena to focus on self-care. Implementing the 7 Cs framework provided by the charity, she gradually gained the strength to say no to supporting Adam financially, ultimately leading to his acceptance of rehab and change. Helena’s journey towards prioritising her happiness and well-being brought significant positive changes for her, her son, and other family members.

“AFS not only shared practical advice, like not letting Adam home after rehab, but also taught me the 7 Cs framework, which empowered me to prioritise my well-being. Their support group discussions gave me the strength to say no to supporting Adam financially, eventually leading him to accept responsibility and be motivated to change himself.

Although there were ups and downs, attending the support group proved invaluable. There was hope as Adam started paying his landlord back and followed a weekly plan with controlled wages and pocket money. However, he had an episode after blowing his tax rebate. Despite his pleas for money, I stood firm, realising that he needed professional help and rehab, not financial handouts. Prioritising my well-being for the first time, I refused to enable him further. I learned to recognise when he was being nice to get something from me or simply lying, which hurt the most. It was a challenge, but I had to cut him off to put his long-term recovery first.”

Helena | AFS Client

Personal Growth and Resilience

Through AFS’s support, Helena experienced personal growth and developed mental resilience. She learned to recognise when her son’s manipulative behaviour was driven by addiction and gained the strength to set firm boundaries. Taking care of herself allowed her to support Adam more effectively in his recovery journey.

“As I attended the support groups and focused on my well-being, I saw positive changes in my life. I gained the strength to set boundaries and detach personal emotions from Adam’s addiction-related behaviours. This newfound resilience allowed me to guide him towards seeking professional help effectively.”

Helena | AFS Client

Impact on the Client and the Family

AFS’s services played a critical role in Helena’s life, fostering strength and positively impacting her relationships with family members. Her new mindset allowed her to guide her son towards seeking professional help and facilitated his journey to recovery.

“AFS’s support not only positively impacted my life but also benefited my family. They saw my changes and benefited from my happiness as I became stronger. By not enabling Adam’s addiction, he started realising the need for change, leading him to recovery.

During our journey, Adam and I met for a coffee, and it was evident that he needed a fresh start. We arranged for him to go to a hotel on the west coast of Scotland, where he could live and work. This opportunity and becoming a lifeguard and explore mountain biking gave him a sense of purpose.”

Helena | AFS Client

Key Learnings and Recommendations

Helena’s journey taught her the importance of looking after oneself when supporting loved ones with addiction. She emphasised the need to set boundaries and detach personal emotions from addiction-related behaviours. Helena encourages other families facing similar challenges to seek support, prioritise self-care, and embrace ongoing assistance from organisations like AFS.

“My journey with AFS taught me the importance of self-care when supporting loved ones with addiction. I learned to recognise that it’s the addiction, not my family member’s behaviour, and setting boundaries is essential for effective support. I would recommend other families facing similar challenges to seek support, prioritise self-care, and embrace ongoing assistance from organisations like AFS.”

 

Helena | AFS Client

Conclusion

AFS’s support played a transformative role in Helena’s life, allowing her to find hope and strength amidst the challenges of her son’s addiction. Through the charity’s understanding and practical guidance, Helena emerged as a resilient and empowered individual, nurturing a positive impact on her son’s recovery journey and the overall well-being of her family. Her experience is a testament to the importance of community involvement and ongoing support in cultivation hope and healing amidst addiction.

“Taking care of yourself is paramount in this journey. Remember, it’s not about your family member’s behaviour; it’s the addiction that is causing their actions. Understanding this crucial distinction can help you detach emotionally and avoid taking things personally. Setting clear boundaries is essential for both you and your loved one. By looking after your own well-being, you empower yourself to be a better support system. You can’t effectively help them if you’re not in a healthy state yourself.

Your life and happiness are just as important as anyone else’s. It’s essential to prioritise your needs and pursue your own dreams and aspirations. You deserve to lead a fulfilling life alongside offering support to your family member in their journey to recovery.”

Helena | AFS Client

Insights