The UK Drug Policy Commission estimated that nearly 1.5 million adults in the UK will be significantly affected by a relative’s drug use (1). Behind this statistic there are real people who are struggling. Finding out a loved one has an addiction can be an uncertain and scary time with intense and conflicting emotions which can take a toll even on the strongest of family relationships. A situation that Alan and Angela relate to but one they thought they would never have to experience.
You may remember us sharing Anthony’s story a couple of weeks ago. His parents, Alan and Angela, often pop into COTS; they shared with us their journey of supporting Anthony throughout his addiction and recovery. The same way substance misuse had a devastating impact on Anthony’s life, his addiction also impacted his family. Alan and Angela always strove to create stable and happy childhoods for their children with hopes of leading them into their adult lives filled with happiness and success. For Alan, the realisation of Anthony having an addiction came with shock and disappointment. “I remember thinking how could this happen to my son? I couldn’t understand why he was taking drugs.” Having a son with an addiction came with its own set of particular difficulties. It was a tough and painful journey of constant worry and feeling responsible for the destructive path Anthony was on.
“We knew we had to let go of Anthony and realised he had to want to change, he had to do it himself. It was heart-breaking but necessary.”
Angela began searching for answers to understand the nature of addiction. “I was able to find a clinic where I took Anthony each week. Even though they were able to give Anthony medication there wasn’t any other kind of support for him or us. We were able to speak to professionals but once Alan and I left the clinic we felt totally alone”. Alan and Angela continued to help Anthony throughout his twenties and thirties, although each time ended with a failed attempt. The guilt of Anthony’s chaotic lifestyle weighed heavy on Alan and Angela and ripped through their own lives, to the point where watching him suffer became unbearable. “Alan and I stopped all contact with Anthony. We knew we had to let go of Anthony and realised he had to want to change, he had to do it himself. It was heart-breaking but necessary”.
“We can not thank Pastor Mick and COTS enough. Pastor Mick is truly a blessing and we will be forever thankful and grateful for the support he has given to Anthony and us.”
One year later Alan and Angela received a significant phone call from Anthony. Anthony explained his decision to start his path to sobriety at Elisha House, a rehabilitation centre in Colne. It was during that phone call they first heard of Pastor Mick. They knew that a strong and consistent network of support was crucial to Anthony’s recovery. Ever since meeting Pastor Mick and coming into COTS Alan and Angela have found ongoing support for both themselves and for Anthony. “We can not thank Pastor Mick and COTS enough. Pastor Mick is truly a blessing and we will be forever thankful and grateful for the support he has given Anthony and us.”
Now that Anthony has achieved eighteen month of sobriety, Alan and Angela are able to live life with a sense of relief and ease. “We are so proud of him and for using his experiences to help others. He is a great son and an amazing father. His children are a big part of his life, and seeing his relationship with them is wonderful. We can not wait to see what the future holds for him!” It’s clear that throughout his life Alan and Angela showed Anthoney love, compassion and understanding all of which shine through Anthony everyday.
Anthony feels strongly about without his family’s love and compassion he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“Without my Mum, Dad, Lyndsay, Louie and Ava I wouldn’t have made it through the beginning of my recovery. I knew only through me changing I would be able to try to bring them back into my life.”
UKDPC: Supporting the Supporters: families of drug misusers