I became a Dad at 5:06 PM on December 4th, 1992, to a wonderful baby boy. Zach was ALL boy…..loved sports, loved playing outside, and was into EVERYTHING! Like most parents, I felt I had no clue how to raise a child, but did my very best and loved him with all I had. Then I became a stepfather in 2005, and I REALLY had no clue how to help parent two additional kids, but I loved Emily and Cameron and tried my best.
We started seeing addictive behavior with Zach in high school, and probably like you, had a chaotic household for several years. I don’t know how we got so lucky, but Cameron (my step-son) was 5 years younger, and so we got to repeat everything as HIS addictive behavior started in high school as well.
Between the two of them, we have experienced their being arrested, having things stolen, having things pawned, lies upon lies, holidays and vacations ruined, school drop-outs, and. . . . on-and-on. For several years, I had no life of my own. I was either trying to fix it, control it, deny it, or blame everyone or everything else in the world. I did not want to admit that both our sons were addicts.
The episode that really woke me up was in 2016. Zach had completed his 3rd rehab and was living in a sober house and had done well for about 3-4 months. But he started using again, and this time he started using heroin and other harder drugs. I went to his house and tried to get him to go to a detox, but he and his roommate were high on heroin, and he wouldn’t let me in the house. I got a hotel room nearby because I didn’t know what else to do. I got a call that night at about 2 am from a girl I did not know, asking me if I was Zach’s Dad, and I said, “yes.” She said he had overdosed and was in an ambulance headed to Grady Hospital in downtown Atlanta. I asked if he was alive, and she said, “I don’t think so, he wasn’t breathing.” So I hung up thinking he was dead. After about 10 minutes, she called back and said she thought they were able to get him breathing and I should go to the hospital.
I got to the emergency room at about 4 am, and by God’s grace, he was alive. He was released at about 8 am, and I took him to detox. The next day when I visited, he broke down crying, and all he could say was that he didn’t want to die. At that moment, I realized that I couldn’t fix this. My son was an addict, and there was nothing I could do but love him for who he was and turn it over to a higher power.
We have been through over 10 rehabs between the two boys, and today, we can praise our higher power that Zach has been sober for 2 ½ years, and Cameron has been sober for over 9 months. (As a side note, my step-daughter was in a terrible car accident in 2017, where her boyfriend was killed and she suffered a severe brain injury. Thankfully, she has recovered, and this helped reinforce to me the importance of living every day to the fullest for all of us!!) Through 10 years of hard times and struggles and wondering if our sons would wake up the next day, addiction has taught me so many wonderful things and changed me for the better. I love addicts; I love hanging around addicts, I love the recovery world. Addicts, for the most part, have more gratitude, they are more loving, they are more sincere, they don’t judge, they are striving to get closer to their higher power, as am I.
These experiences have led me to want to help other parents. I want to share the mistakes I made. I want to share what did and didn’t work for our family; I want to listen and empathize with your situation. I am sorry you are going through this! I want you to start working on you. I have been involved in family groups for over 6 years and continue learning every week. I volunteer as Co-Family Coordinator at Purple Recovery Center in Lawrenceville, GA, and love helping families, whether it is their first or 10th experience with recovery.
I come from the business world of working in sales for the same company for 31 years. Sales quotas, 50% travel, climbing the corporate ladder. It was satisfying at times, but it seems I was always chasing this happiness that didn’t really last….money, status, success…but at the end of the day I was never full inside.
Working with families going through the same struggles our family experienced makes me full. I feel like I have found my calling. Thank you to the many great mentors who helped me, from Campbell and Amber to Donna Gunter, Brett & Joel Bagley, and many others.
- Traveled to over 20 countries
- LOVE my Old English Sheep Dog named Maple
- Co-owned an industrial supply company
- Retired basketball referee
- One and done parachuting from airplane (NEVER again)
- Hiking Appalachian Trail is on my to-do list
- Mentor Foster Kids
Scott earned a BS degree from Presbyterian College. He is a Certified Family Recovery Coach and has been involved in Hope For Families programs for 6 years as a mentor in our parent support group. He recently started working for Hope for Families as a Family Recovery Strategist and is currently our Family Group Facilitator. Scott also continues to help run the Family Recovery Support group at Purple (a sober living center for men in the Atlanta area).