A Father’s Perspective on the Pain of Addiction and the Joy of Recovery
Addiction affects more than just the addict, the family suffers right alongside them. However, a successful recovery also has the capacity to allow the family to reap the rewards and benefits as they also begin to heal. My father and family played a huge part in helping me overcome my addiction, and here he offers his perspective on my life, the pain of addiction, and the joys of recovery:
As I reflect on my youngest son’s life (he will be 40 in September), I remember the day he was born on my father’s birthday. It was a joyous day. As he grew, he was a very athletic and compassionate young man. He loved to play T-ball and little league baseball as a child. His compassion was always present, as he would befriend those who did not always have friends such as the hearing impaired, even learning sign language so they could feel included. He played lots of sports growing up and loved church league basketball. As he grew older, he began to focus on basketball and was a varsity Letterman in high school. When his grandparents came to visit when he was young, he would be playful and silly with his grandfather. I remember him playing with the little hair his grandfather had left on the top of his head. He was a very gifted, caring, and talented boy and young man.
When he went to college, even though he remained in Tallahassee, he moved out of our house. While he was an above-average student, I knew based on his potential that he was not performing to his capability. His senior year at FSU he went to study abroad in Valencia, Spain. He later admitted to me that he did not obtain the full value of his study abroad experience due to his drinking habits. After graduation, he took a job out of town for a couple of years. I had a suspicion that a problem was brewing during this time away. He then received a job back in his hometown of Tallahassee.
After about two years he came to see me and said he had an alcohol problem and he needed to go to rehab. This confirmed the suspicion I had previously had with him and given there has been alcoholism in my family tree I wanted to make sure he got the help he needed. We arranged a short-term rehab for the alcohol problem. He returned from this first rehab and started playing basketball and exercising. Things were going well for a while until he had a minor back injury playing basketball. One of his friends gave him a pain pill which I now know is something one should not give someone recovering from addiction.
This started my son on a long road of drug addiction. Watching my son go through multiple short-term rehabs and rapid detox treatments that were unsuccessful in creating any sustained sobriety was very painful. He began manipulating his mother and me to get funding for his drug addiction, even going so far as to come into our house to steal items to pawn for funds. Through all of this I would continue to pray for my son and tell him I knew God had a plan for his life. One of the hardest aspects of this ordeal was what it was doing to our family. His brother and sister were getting very upset with me for not implementing tough love and his mother was caught in the middle of the discussions. They were concerned about what his addiction was doing to us, as his parents. There were a lot of hurt feelings throughout, as I learned firsthand that our family was just as much a part of the addiction as my son was.
“Then in late 2018 my son came to me and said he did not want to go on living the way he was living. I told him I would do anything I could to help him get his life back and for me to get my son back.”
Then in late 2018 my son came to me and said he did not want to go on living the way he was living. I told him I would do anything I could to help him get his life back and for me to get my son back. We discussed several options as he did his research on what steps to take next. The one option that seemed the best was a three-month rehab program at Narconon Suncoast. That was the option he selected and even though it was implemented faster than he expected at the time, it could not have been more effective in giving him his life back and my son back.
My son is now a full-time staff member at Narconon Suncoast, and our family was together over the holidays for the first time in years when my daughter invited all of us, including Justin, to her home in Colorado to witness her baptism into the Greek Orthodox Church. This was a big deal for my daughter and a big step for all of us as it was the first sign that our family had started the healing process. We had a great time of restoration in Colorado. After a week in Colorado staying at my daughter’s house we flew to Tampa. We stayed at my older son’s house and a couple of days later went to a Tampa Bay Bucs football game. Even though the Bucs lost, it was great having the family together and most importantly, enjoying each other. The next day we went to a movie together and seeing my family together as one again, laughing together and enjoying each other’s company, could not have brought more joy and peace to my heart.
One thing that must be known about our family is that we love the Florida State Seminoles. The Seminoles were having a great basketball season this past year and my son and I continued another tradition we have, talking about all things FSU. My two sons decided that they would come up to Tallahassee and join their mother and I in going to the sold-out game against the University of Louisville. It was a wonderful time and game as the Seminoles won as we enjoyed every minute as a family. A week later FSU won the ACC Championship for the first time ever, and I was able to share that moment with my son, healthy and happy for the first time in years.
Not only has our family restored a healthy relationship, but by all accounts, my son has been thriving in his new career path geared towards helping others and it has been an absolute joy and pleasure to see. I have my son back and his mother and I can sleep peacefully knowing that he has recovered from his addiction and found his purpose.
James E. Pitts—Proud and Loving Father