Drug addiction rocked our family unit. Aaron’s seven year battle with illegal substances placed enormous strain upon his parents and three siblings. Honestly, his drug usage from the age of 15 to 22 turned an otherwise normal, stable family into a dysfunctional group, dealing daily with the stress, pain, and uncertainty that hardcore addiction inflicts upon loved ones. Nevertheless, that same wounded family somehow stayed together, and served, miraculously, as a support system for Aaron in his darkest hours.
Family, I believe, is the most important support team an addict can have. If the drug addict sees that his family continues to love and care about him, and remains in his corner, despite his/her continued usage and legal offenses, then hope continues to flicker, albeit dim at times, within the heart. Now, my family is far from perfect. But, as I reflect upon Aaron’s long-time struggle with drugs (and the law), I am convinced that the unconditional love he received from family members was a powerful influence in his life.
Aaron’s recovery from heroin addiction can be attributed, partly, in my opinion, to the support he received through the years from his brothers and sister. Yes, they were frustrated, bewildered, embarrassed, and angered many times in the course of their brother’s addiction, but I can truly say that they never turned their backs on their brother. As a father, I saw only concern in the hearts of Aaron’s siblings for their brother. I would be lying if I said there was no anger at times, especially when they had been stolen from or awakened in the middle of the night due to a “drug crisis.” And yes, words were exchanged, sometimes rather heatedly, but no violence or physical altercations ever occurred. For that I am grateful.
Tears flowed a-plenty in our family gatherings, as Aaron’s siblings expressed their sorrow, remorse, and unfounded guilt. “If only I was a better brother or more of a positive influence,” David would say. But it was not his fault. They all tried to help him in their own ways. They prayed for him; they wrote to him when he was in jail or rehab. Each of them visited him on numerous occasions when he was incarcerated. His brothers-Andy and David-and his sister-Sarah-just wanted to see Aaron recover. They just wanted to get their beloved brother-the real Aaron-back. I am proud of my other three kids for the way they supported their brother. That support was, and is, priceless. It made a difference!
Throughout my blogs, I have spoken about my own emotional duress and experiences as the father of a drug addict. But another member of our family deserves of much more credit throughout this ordeal, and that would be Aaron’s mother, Rhonda. Over the period of Aaron’s seven year addiction to drugs, this woman was, and is, a rock, a woman of great faith, with immense love for her son. Without Rhonda, we would have all been lost!
During Aaron’s addiction, it was often Rhonda that he turned to for comfort, guidance, and hope. In his anguish, Aaron often sought the love of his mom, and she never tuned him away, even when he was high. When circumstances appeared the bleakest, it was Aaron’s mother that received him in love, unconditionally. She gave him, in those dark, painful hours, what he needed most: a mother’s love. Through the years, Rhonda just continued to love her son, even when he was “unlovely” at times. Many a time I recall her just holding him, praying for him, or sharing a scripture with him to assure him or provide him hope.
The time finally came, after seven long years, when Aaron was truly open to and ready to seek recovery. Once again, it was most often his mom who came to his side, giving of herself as only a mother can. For a whole year, Rhonda drove him to NA meetings, waiting in the car for an hour and a half, several times a week. Moreover, this find lady would also drive her son to counseling and other appointments and wait patiently in the car. Throughout the many years of Aaron’s addiction, it was his mother that made the phone calls and advocated on his behalf, seeking help for her son. It is no wonder that Aaron reveres his mother today, as he continues in his recovery.
Family-the addict’s parents, brothers, and sisters-is the greatest support system, in my view. To know that you are loved, believed in, and accepted by your loved ones is of tremendous value. Without the support of a loving family, I don’t believe my son Aaron would be where he is today-clean and sober for over one year. I thank the Lord for my family, and for my son, Aaron.
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