Rebuilding a Family Through the Shadows of Addiction 

Addiction is often seen as personal, but its impact extends far beyond the individual who suffers from it. Families, loved ones, and friends of people in addiction are unwittingly drawn into a challenging journey where their lives are forever altered. In this heartfelt testimonial, a wife and mother shares her family’s journey of pain, love, and resilience amidst her son’s struggle with drug addiction. Her son also reflects on the broader implications of addiction. Their story underscores the vital importance of recognising the need for support and change in how society addresses addiction.

“It is very important that we explore and help people to understand the painful and, at times, horrendous journey that our loved ones undergo as addicts, albeit that society views this as their choice. It is also vital to explore the impact of addiction on their families, loved ones and friends and how they, in turn, are taken along paths they could never have imagined.

My husband and I, as parents of an addict, watched our precious son, Thomas, suffer horrendous emotional and physical pain and also cause unimaginable suffering for those who loved him. As parents, we had to relearn everything we thought we were doing right and start again, our aim being quite simply for Thomas to know that he was loved. (However, this did not mean that we ever supported or condoned any behaviour that any normal parent would find abhorrent). Our relearning took some doing and was often very, very exhausting, but we know that we managed to maintain a relationship with Thomas where he knew that he was loved.

The support for parents, families and friends of addicts is a postcode lottery. Initially, we lived in the Midlands and were so blessed to be part of an amazing family group that just focused on our needs and how Thomas’ addiction had impacted on us. This weekly community became so precious to us, helping us to parent in a different way and giving us some slight relief from our pain. However, once we moved to the South Coast, we never found an equivalent and were left to hold onto the things we had learnt from the family group.

I feel passionately that we need to change our thinking and responses about what addiction is and how we treat it. Particularly the havoc caused for families, loved ones and friends when they are trying to deal with a loved one’s addiction.

Thomas, as a child and teenager, lived a normal family life – Whatever that is! He was loved by his Dad and I, his sister, her fiancé, an amazing extended family, friends and work colleagues. But addiction got him from a young age, and it was his greatest battle for over 15 years. He had been in recovery for just over three months when he tragically contracted meningitis and died. We are proud to share that he was an organ donor, and this resulted in him being able to save the lives of others.”

Parent’s Testimonial

“The biggest tragedy is the human cost. The daily suffering, degradation and misery a using addict attempts to survive in. The petrified and worn-out parents, the traumatised and abandoned children. The embarrassed and haunted siblings, the desperate and lost partners. If this illness is not arrested, you also have to consider the chance that it will be passed on. Whether it is genetics, learned behaviour, or both, it happens.”

Son’s Testimonial

Summary and Support Information

The testimonials from this family provide a glimpse into the heart-wrenching journey of those affected by addiction. Addiction Family Support (AFS) understands the pain and suffering that families go through when a loved one is caught in the grip of addiction.

AFS offers a helpline (0300 888 3853) available from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This helpline provides a lifeline for families seeking guidance, support, and understanding. Additionally, AFS offers one-to-one and group support sessions, providing a safe space for families to share their experiences, learn, and heal together.

It’s crucial that we collectively change our approach to addiction, recognising it as a complex issue that affects not just the individual but their entire network of loved ones. AFS is here to provide the support and resources needed to navigate this challenging journey and rebuild love amidst the shadows of addiction.

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.