How My Son Got Sober

By Jacob's Ladder 09/27/16

Jacob's ladder: mother-approved.

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How My Son Got Sober
Photo via Jacob’s Ladder

We’ve shared the perspective of someone currently in a recovery program for addiction but we don’t often hear from the loved one who helped get the person there. So we spoke to the mother of a young man presently seeking recovery at Jacob’s Ladder at Brookside Farm in West Virginia. This is her story:

Disbelief

Like most parents of an addict we were surprised when we learned the depth of our son’s addiction. In fifth grade, he was the D.A.R.E kid—he even won a drug awareness award! Throughout his youth, we could never get him to take a pill when he was sick. We literally could not believe it when a teacher approached me to share her concern that he was using.

Struggle

By the time he was 18, we realized he may not make it through high school. That’s when we drew the line that treatment was a must. We were able to get him into a wilderness program. Like many addicts, he was very good at hiding his use from us and by the time the depth of his situation was determined, it was decided that extensive care was necessary. From the wilderness program, he went to a step-down in Taos, New Mexico, and then spent a couple commitments in a halfway house back in our home state of Florida.

Close to home was not the right move.

We couldn’t get him to stay clean very long. You would think that after all that time, he wouldn’t return to drugs. But it’s so important to get these kids away from familiar places that trigger them. Through a move to Pennsylvania and back to Florida we constantly focused on NA and treatment but relapse was always just around the corner.

Progress

My church has been a very big support system for me. I kept asking for prayers for my son and they finally just asked what was wrong. It was a great feeling when I was able to remove the burden of our secret and accept the fact that my kid wasn’t the only one with problems.

Now I think, if I can help save one other child by telling my story, then it’s worth it.

After all of the in and out of treatment and various attempts at sobriety, we sent him to another wilderness program in Utah where he stayed for 72 days.

We finally sensed a breakthrough.

In the second month of working with his therapist there, he said, “Mom, I realize I can’t go back to Florida.” That was huge for him—to recognize his triggers, and to identify that his environment and a support structure were important to continued sobriety.

Discovery

I was searching for an aftercare when I found Jacob’s Ladder online. A relative had talked some about mindfulness as an emerging treatment technique so I was Googling for mindfulness and addiction. I saw the pictures of the farm, of the barn, of that beautiful hillside and I made the call. I grew up in the country and know how therapeutic animals and farm life can be.

The six-month commitment at Jacob’s Ladder is what my son needed. It’s more in tune with what it really takes to get off drugs and develop a sober lifestyle. My son and the other men in the program have been working very hard but they’re always doing fun things too. Jacob’s Ladder and the team there keep the residents very active with farm and house chores; yoga and meditation; therapeutic assignments (individually focused and 12-step related) and getting to meetings. They’ve even been camping, fishing, and to sporting events and an amusement park!

Communication and family involvement are important at Jacob’s Ladder and we very much appreciate that. I get frequent updates and we can tell the team is focused on the care my son needs.

What we’ve noticed is that Jacob’s Ladder is very individualized, gentle and one-on-one. We just visited a few weeks ago. We spent the day with my son and Chad Bishop (the Jacob’s Ladder Director of Operations), who is such a solid guy; they could not have found a gentler soul who knows his way in this arena. Guys like my son need someone gentle like Chad. They’ve had things happen in their lives and are trying to cover the pain. The genuinely caring approach Jacob’s Ladder is taking is palpable. I have not been able to get my kid to the dentist for six years but Chad got him there.

The farm is just beautiful—300 acres, multiple barns and all kinds of animals. It’s therapeutic for these kids to be chasing pigs. They’re learning to keep bees and canning vegetables they grow in a huge garden. When we were there, none of us could carry all the bounty from the garden. I have a photo of my son’s arms loaded with chickens’ eggs. I think it gives them a strong sense of fitness because there’s so much to do. My son loves carpentry and being active. He wants to farm for rest of his life, and I totally support that. It’s been therapeutic for his soul.

Craig Cohen (an LADC and the Jacob’s Ladder Program Director) talked to my son’s therapist in Utah and picked right up where she left off. That was critical for a kid who’s been to so many rehabs. It brings me to tears when I sit and think about where he is right now. I can sleep at night.

Another thing I love about the program is their music therapy. My son has written a song called, “Ten Is Enough.” In it he says he’s sick of the drug life and wants to make a new life. It’s awesome.

Most important are all of the changes we’re seeing in our son. He’s put on 60 pounds and looks physically fit. On our visit, I saw a different kid—sweet, open, honest and glad to be alive. I’m so happy they love him as much as we do. Underneath the drugs is a fabulous kid.

He and the other guys have a nice relationship that’s built up. They’re sharing a house and their lives, trying to recover together. My son has never had this kind of 24/7 support and care and that’s what he needed. He’s in a totally different place now. He is so happy living a sober life.

We are so grateful; we’ll never forget what they’ve done for him. It’s God’s blessing; there’s no question.

Want to learn more about Jacob’s Ladder? Reach Jacob’s Ladder by phone at (304) 239-1214 or by email. Find Jacob’s Ladder on Facebook.

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