How I Knew My Daughter Was Using Substances and in a Mental Health Crisis
It was like a light switch — I asked myself, “Where did my daughter go?” I found out it was both substance use and mental health issues at the same time.
"I still painfully remember that hot, burning feeling of terror in my chest and throat that I felt for so many years. My phone would hardly ring and I was always waiting for the one call I was so terrified to receive."
Our family suffered for years in silence through this horrific journey — but I had no idea that freedom for all of us was just around the corner. The physical, financial and emotional toll it takes on family members is devastating, but shame and silence are killers.
Our family is now bonded into a stronger and more loving unit because we can speak of Ryan’s health problem out loud. Ryan is recovering from a disease. We love, support and celebrate his life daily in recovery. Last year, he participated in his little sister’s wedding in Miami, the same little sister who for years feared she would wake up one morning and he would be dead.
Today, Ryan is doing so well and I’m incredibly proud of him. He works daily on his own recovery and has become a powerful voice and nationwide advocate for countless others in the process. When I watch the heart-wrenching videos of parents who have lost their sons or daughters to heroin overdoses, I still painfully remember that hot, burning feeling of terror in my chest and throat that I felt for so many years. My phone would hardly ring and I was always waiting for the one call I was so terrified to receive. Those thousands of calls I made that went unanswered and the hundreds of nights wondering if he was sick, warm, fed, alive or dead.
These days, I receive phone calls from my son regularly, just wanting to say hello. No longer do I fearfully search for him or wait by the phone hoping he checks in. I truly know he is healthy, working daily on his recovery and with an amazing life ahead. My heart is incredibly full of gratitude.
Our family is filled with promise. This process has been a healing one and Ryan’s life has been saved thanks to the right treatment. I’m a professional with a good job, and I had some limited resources to draw upon. But what about the countless families who truly have nowhere to turn? Compassion for Ryan and our family’s financial flexibility without question helped lead him to a life of recovery. Addiction is a disease and effective treatment should be available for all who are suffering. This year I plan to get more involved in how we, as a nation, can make this happen.
As a parent, you can be a major influence on your child’s life if they’re struggling with substances. Learn specific skills on how to do it.