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I wish I knew the rules, the ABC’s, the path.  I wish I didn’t have memories of driving around Reno on dark nights and dark days hoping I would find my son. Where might he be?  Sometimes I wished he was in jail. At least he would be safe.

These are the thoughts of a parent of a young addict.  Will I get to be the parent of an addict in recovery, a child who is living?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  Yes, I think so.  To think otherwise is dangerous and not helpful.

I have six years experience now.  It took four to tie the events together, to not accept the explanations for the lost pieces:  the car, the grades, the jobs.  Another to say the word addict.  Another to start to find our own personal path through the scary.

I have learned now that 10- 15% of people are born addicts.  Like cancer, they are predisposed thus implying it’s not their fault.  I like this.  It takes away the stigma, it salves my parenting, and allows us to treat it as a disease.  This fact is a gift, I love this gift.  But here’s the rub.  At 4am when sleep is impossible, wouldn’t my son rather be responsible for his actions?  To give name, if only to himself, what caused him to pick up that beer, vodka, tequila, weed, little round pill of something that tastes bitter.

I’m not sure that it credits a person’s life to say it’s a disease that makes him an addict.  Would it be better to allow my son to say he felt too much the personal events that make up his life?  Is this addiction recovery heresy? I don’t know. I’d tell him it’s all my fault if I could make it go away.  The question becomes not why, but how to work on recovery.

This is what I have found to be the most difficult thing about addiction:  There is no one clear path to recovery.  In this space, I will tell you a little about my family’s path through the scary, and invite others to tell me their’s.  The focus will not be on the long distance loneliness of the acts of addiction, but rather on the successes of recovery.  Our successes involved a one way ticket to Bangkok, a $20 dollar bill, and a Thai monastery.

Need help now?  JTNN offers weekly meetings with THE PARENT GROUP, 6:30pm, Thursdays at 505 S. Arlington. Confidential, FREE, and run by a licensed counselor.

Let’s help each other Through the Scary.  Contact me at

Laura Newman

JTNN Board Member