Colin’s story (not his real name)

In 1998 my son started displaying bad behavioural characteristics and other mannerisms of a paranoid nature i.e. Not coming home until all hours, repeatedly damaging his car, enrolling for courses and never following through etc etc. I was a single parent at the time and although I knew that he did ‘drink’ with his pals, there were no other indications of anything more serious than ‘just growing up’!

I had a feeling that he might be using dope but certainly no proof. Through a friend (in 2000) I decided to join a TOUGHLOVE® Group. This was a vital cog in my development and understanding of the problem as I felt that I could at least deal sensibly with events as they occurred. Thanks to Sheila who was an amazing mentor during those early years!

I remarried in 2003 with my son still staying with us. By then I had boundaries in place but was in denial as to any drug use. One evening the group suggested I conduct an unsolicited drug test on him. He was having a drink with my brother who ‘politely’ told him that I was going to test him! Naturally he borrowed his friend’s urine and although seemingly doing the deed in front of me managed to again pull the wool over my eyes!

To cut a long story short he came home late one night in a terrible state and abused my wife and I. He was told this was unacceptable and chose to find his own place to stay. I agreed to assist for 3 months. After a few days of looking he asked to change his mind about leaving. He was informed that he had made a good decision! After being in his own place for 6 weeks he realised that he couldn’t survive without the infrastructure of ‘home’ life and finally came clean about his Khat/Cocaine addiction and asked for help.

Three rehabs and a number of relapses later he is now running his own business. Our relationship is great but built on the full knowledge that as an adult he is responsible for his own actions. I had refused to pay for the third rehab and found out later that this was in fact a vital component of his recovery; he mentioned to me subsequently that this was also a turning point in his life!

Lessons to be learnt:

  • The longer we both stay in denial, the longer we are able to start the recovery process i.e. we enable the addict to continue on their destructive path
  • Don’t expect your family or friends to understand the extent of the problem (unless they come to TOUGHLOVE® meetings)
  • Put boundaries in place and ensure consequences are followed through, your group will help you implement this correctly and at the appropriate time
  • Don’t expect a quick fix – it took them a long time to get into that state, it will take time to get out of it
  • Join a TOUGHLOVE® Group – it will bring sanity back into your life and seriously assist in shortening the period of recovery, for you definitely and hopefully your problem person
  • There will be periods when your relationship seems to be irrevocably damaged, hang in there and take one day at a time. Your group is just so vital during this period
  • You can start loving yourself and other members of your family again, in the knowledge that this wasn’t your fault
  • Councillors, rehabs etc will tell you that families who practise TOUGHLOVE® have a greater chance of success with their problem people