From a Parent

My son is a drug addict.
That is such a simple sentence, and yet, even writing it anonymously can be difficult. Saying it out loud is even more challenging.
My son is two years sober, and for a long time I felt like his journey had to be kept a secret because of fear of judgement on him, and on me for failing him as a parent.
While Jack was in rehab, my husband and I secluded ourselves to avoid having to explain things to our extended family and friends. We made excuses not to go to family gatherings at holidays. We suddenly became “very busy” and the phrase “We just have a lot going on” became almost a mantra. People just get busy sometimes, so our excuses were accepted. The more we avoided everyone, the more our isolation became our new normal. This new lifestyle didn’t end when Jack left rehab.
One day while in a clothing store, I overhead a woman talking to someone, and I heard the name of the rehab facility where I had taken Jack mentioned. I guess the woman noticed my attention and she smiled at me. She finished her conversation with the friend she had been talking to and came up to me and introduced herself. She asked if I had been to that facility. She said she noticed that my “ears perked up” when she was talking about it. I kind of stammered and told her no.
She said without inhibition, “I was there four years ago. Now I volunteer at least a few days a month. I am a recovering drug addict, and now I want to help others.”
I finally heard the words come out of my mouth.
My son is a drug addict.
I think it was the first time I had said them out loud to someone that wasn’t directly involved in Jack’s treatment.
“My son is a drug addict. He was at that facility for nine months. He has been clean for almost a year.”
She immediately hugged me and said, “You must be so proud of him.”
I realized I am proud of him. I am proud of myself and my husband for everything that we have gone through along with him. Why should I act so ashamed about something that I am also so very proud of? I have been trying to talk about things more. Sometimes it is easier talking to strangers, but I have finally told my brother and his wife. There have been some awkward moments, and a lot of explaining. I have realized that I am dispelling misconceptions about my son, the person he is, and about addicts in general by sharing his success with those around us.
Jack, I AM proud of you.

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