I knew something was wrong—facing my son’s alcoholism

I believed we had the perfect family. My husband was successful, our children all attended private schools, and life was very good. That was about seven years ago, when everything seemed to change overnight. Our family of five was broadsided by a life-changing event, which we would come to know as alcoholism.

When our eldest son, Scott, got his driver’s license, everything seemed to go out of control. We knew something was wrong: he became thinner and thinner, and woke up with severe stomachaches in the morning. As a mother I knew, of course, that something was wrong, but what? Finally, I could no longer take it. I drove him to a local rehab facility. That was the hardest thing I ever did.

Scott didn’t complete his first treatment and was kicked-out, but we heard the word “alcoholic” used for the first time. I was in denial. I was convinced that we could fix it ourselves. How wrong I turned out to be.

Fast forward several years and several DUIs later. In the meantime, I tried Al‑Anon, but only cried and cried in those rooms. The people were lovely, but I just wasn’t willing to relinquish what I thought was control over the situation.

Three years ago now, the thin ice my son was skating on finally cracked and broke. There was a horrible car accident where my younger son had his neck broken; thank God, he was not paralyzed. Then, jail time for Scott with the prospect of imprisonment, for he was now considered a felon. Our one last hope was a rehab in Southern California, where it took Scott a month just to acknowledge his illness. A counselor there strongly advised me (after my many crazy calls to the facility) to get myself to an Al‑Anon meeting.

I have to say that Al‑Anon saved me. I timidly approached my now-regular group near Christmas time. I was so sad and sorry for myself. My pain and heartbreak were so great, it was nearly impossible to speak. Eventually, I went on to become the group treasurer, and the love and support grew and grew.

My son Scott, I’m proud to say, is three years sober and working his A.A. program, which is not easy for a college student to do. He is still on probation, with an interlock device in his vehicle, but he is moving forward. So am I. Someone once asked me why I went to Al‑Anon every week and not just when I needed it. The truth is I always need Al‑Anon. I don’t want to wait for a crisis to cause me to attend.

I am so appreciative of the Al‑Anon program. I’ve started to share my story at some meetings—it’s a precious gift I give to myself.

By Lesley Anne S., California
The Forum, May 2014