Rebuilding My Family in Recovery: Addiction Survivors Discuss Mending Fences After Finding Lasting Sobriety
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The excruciating pain of addiction isn’t limited to the person who’s abusing substances — it extends to those closest to them, too. Families are often forced to watch helplessly while their addicted loved one spirals out of control. When a person is able to enter addiction recovery, repairing the damage caused by their substance abuse often doesn’t come easily.
Brandon is an addiction survivor who battled an opioid painkiller addiction for three years. We had the opportunity to talk to him about his journey to sobriety, the role his family played, and how he’s staying on the sober track today. Here’s some of what he shared with us.
It wasn’t just that Brandon’s family knew he had a drug problem — it was that they’d truly watched him slip away before their very eyes.
“My whole life changed,” Brandon said of his substance abuse. “I wasn’t the funny, nice, sweet guy I had been. By the third year of using, people started piecing it together — I had lost 50 pounds. I had always been athletic, in the gym every day, two hours a day — but I wasn’t focused on working out anymore. I would lie and tell people I was trying to lose weight.”
Unable to stand idly by, his family tried reaching out.
“My immediate family started asking if everything was alright. My grandpa kept bringing up stories about people he knew whose kids or grandkids were on heroin. Finally, one day, he flat-out asked me if I had a problem with drugs — and if I did, to let him know and he would help me,” he recalled. “That talk got in my head for a little bit, and for a few months I slowed it down.”
Brandon’s parents finally sat him down and told him he needed help to get sober. Denying his problem while looking into the eyes of the people he loved most shook him to the core.
“I didn’t know what to say,” he admitted. “I was ashamed, embarrassed and disappointed. My little sister, who had always looked up to me, was crying.”
After a few days of soul searching, Brandon decided going to treatment was the right decision. On a whim, he booked a flight to California to check into a rehab facility. But his father knew how important it was to find the right program, so helped his son connect with an experienced counselor who helped Brandon weigh his options and feel more confident about entering treatment.
“He cared about getting me into the right place and really getting me help,” Brandon said. “So, I changed my flight and my plans and went to the Treehouse.”
His time in rehab helped him get to the root of his issues so he could get back to being the man he wanted to be. Now that he’s sober, he said his relationship with his family is a major motivation to stay clean.
“My main reason is my mom, dad, and sister. I’m so tired of disappointing them,” he said. “My sister is scared to be around me. I fell asleep behind the wheel with her in the car once, and she had to grab the steering wheel. She’s scared.”
He knows it will take time to truly fix his relationships, but is committed to making up for his past behavior.
“I’m tired of seeing my parents’ faces distraught. My mom — she’s just this bundle of joy, and to see her unhappy just tourments me,” Brandon said.
And sticking to his sober path isn’t just good for his relationships with his family, it’s helped him learn to love himself again, too.
“I’m not drained, my personality is back — the old me is back, and people love me,” he asserted. “I don’t want to go back.”