My Truth: My son is an addict

Hi.

Let me preface this post, by telling you that the things I’m about to say are in NO WAY a marketing ploy, or a plea for attention.  I’ve thought a long time about when to share this, IF EVER, and I’ve come to the decision that I want to try to use my situation for good, if I possibly can. This is not a secret I want to keep anymore.  I’m going to step into the light, and you’re going to see my scars.

Several years ago, I wrote my break-out book, IF YOU STAY.  It’s the story of a broken man, plagued with drug use and issues.  Pax Tate’s story had a happy ending, and many of you fell in love with him.  Many of you asked me who he was based upon… and I have never felt like I should share.

Until now.

Loving someone with an addiction is a heavy burden to carry.  At times, you feel alone, as though no one else could possibly understand.   And most of the time, no one can, unless they’ve walked this particular path themselves.

My twenty-one year old son, my first-born,  Gunner, was a cheerful little boy, his smile like sunshine, his charm enough to talk himself in and out of mostly everything.  He was bright, he was bursting with potential, and he was beautiful.  He was rambunctious, he was all boy, playing with lizards and turtles and snakes from the yard.  His favorite show was The Land Before Time, and he  wanted to be a zoologist when he grew up.

gunner-baby gunner-three

 

Then, as a teenager, he changed.   He became a shell of his former self, his mood mercurial.   He lied to himself, and to us, told us that nothing was wrong, that his disinterest in school was because he was bored.   That was a lie.

The truth came out soon enough.

He started out huffing aerosol cans in secret, and that branched out to other things, like methamphetamine and heroin, and pretty much anything he could get his hands on.  The Addiction hooked into him with sharp talons.  I address it in capital letters, like it is a thing, because it is.  Addiction is a palpable monster.  It grabbed my son, and it wouldn’t let go, and he didn’t want to let it.

It dragged him down, and we all went with him.

Loving someone with an addiction is like being on a terrible roller coaster than you can never get off of.  He calls me in the middle of the night, he calls me crying, he calls me saying he wants to die.

Then the next day, once the drug wears off, he calls and acts fine.  He’ll insist he doesn’t have a problem, and that he doesn’t need help.  Then the cycle begins again the day after.

He rages.  He cries.  He soars, he crashes.

People on the outside looking in think that I should be able to fix it. That if I FORCE him into getting help, he’ll beat the addiction.

That’s not the way it works.  I’ve put him in rehab multiple times.  It didn’t take.  Because he wasn’t ready.  He’s not a minor anymore- he’s over eighteen.  So I can’t MAKE him do anything, not even when he’s killing himself with this dangerous cycle.

This has been on ongoing struggle for several years now.  We try to make him get help, he resists at every turn.  The addiction makes him someone he’s not, someone who says hateful awful things, someone who tries to hurt those who love him.

It’s exhausting.

A while back, at two a.m, he called me.  I could tell he’d been high, that he’d crashed.  He was very, very low.   His speech was jumbled, incoherent.  Eventually, he said, “Mom, what time is it?”

I pulled the phone away from my ear to look at it.

“Two-thirty,” I told him.

He didn’t answer.

“Gunner?”

He didn’t answer.

“Gunner?!”

Still no answer.    I could hear some sort of ragged, gurgly sound in the background, and I knew it was coming from his throat. I hung up, and tried to call him back.

No answer.

So I did the only thing I could do.  I called for an ambulance.  I didn’t know if he was dying, I only knew, in my mother’s heart, that time was of the essence.  I waited by my phone, barely breathing myself, until I heard back.

He had overdosed, and the police had found drugs in his house.  He was lucky though. He lived.

He was treated, and arrested, and he was put into jail. He was eventually released, and placed on a list for rehab.  Finally, after several weeks, he’s now in rehab. Again.  All we can do is hope that this time it takes.  That this is the time he’ll want to get better and we can all get off this roller-coaster ride from hell.  He tells me he wants to get better, but he’s in for the fight of his life.  He wakes up in the night, in cold sweats and craving needles.  The cravings are stronger than he is, he thinks.  But I don’t think so.  I think if he concentrates, he is strong enough.  

Gunner is now twenty-one.  He’s got a sweet fiancee, and a beautiful infant son.  He’s got a lot to live for, if only he’s strong enough to see that.

gunner-with-damon

This is my baby boy now.  Do you see the dark look in his eyes?  The lines on his face?  The hardened expression?  The skinny arms and bony shoulders?  That’s what drugs do.  They take and take and take, until there’s nothing left.

This can’t be the end of my son’s story.  He’s got so much left to give.

If you are a praying person, would you mind saying a prayer for him?  Because I believe that the more people who whisper the same prayer, the louder the words are to God’s ear.  And Gunner needs God’s help to beat this.

I am a normal person.  My family is normal.  We live normal lives, and this has happened to us.  Once upon a time, I thought that drug addiction was something that happened to OTHER people.  People who weren’t like me.

That was not true.

Drug addiction can happen to ANYONE.

You can teach your kids right from wrong, and bad things can still happen.  Hug your kids tight.  They will make their own choices, and you can’t control that.

As an author, that’s a tough pill to swallow, because I’m accustomed to creating worlds.  I control what happens in those worlds, and I control the choices my characters make. I control everything with keystrokes from my keyboard, or a red pen on a white page.

Real life isn’t like that.  My son is killing himself, and I can’t do a thing to stop it.  So, to deal with it, I do what I do best.

I write.

I’m writing another book based on Pax Tate.  I first created his character because of my son Gunner.  And because real life has shown me that stories evolve,  I feel as though Pax’s story has to continue, to show that sometimes, happy endings must be worked for, with blood and tears.  But if you work hard enough, and pray and hope and HANG ON FOR DEAR LIFE, a happy ending can be had.  I have to believe that.

Writing is my therapy.  I write to live.  I’m going to write more of Gunner’s struggles through Pax, and I’m going to give Pax the ending that I want Gunner to have.

If God is willing, it will be so.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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111 thoughts on “My Truth: My son is an addict

  1. Gunner will most definitely be in my prayers….. as well as you and your family… coming from a family of addicts I can somewhat relate.. Stay Strong… hand it over to God and let him do his work… His issue is not a reflection of you and I believe he will reach deep and pull the Real Gunner to the surface…

  2. I just read this with tears streaming down my face, tears for you, your son, and your family and tears for my own. Because this is my reality also, not my son but my 5 brothers who are all addicts, one is currently in jail (most likely saved his life for the time being), one who pretends all the others have a problem not him, one who has battled it for many years and just recently fell back into the dark addiction, one who is crazy out of control, and finally one that just got out of rehab and looks like that brother he always has been deep inside. You have touched my heart by sharing your story (still crying as I type this)…..Thank You <3

    • Oh, Courtney! I do know EXACTLY what it is like. Addiction is not a monster, it’s the damn devil himself. Preys upon the weak, tempts you, waits for you, offers you a taste when your starving, feeds upon your addiction, hands you the goods, and leaves you empty, withdrawals setting in, watches and pats himself on the back because you’ve taken his poison! The battle to get sober is tortuos, especially with heroine. No family is immune. It’s spreading like the plague in our childrens generation.
      And no, you can’t force him. That’s so easy for someone to say when they’ve never dealt with it.
      The thing is, addiction changes the chemistry in our brains, some are more suseptible and the damage is real. Neurotransmitters fall off course and reroute. Then not only are we dealing with addiction, but mental illness on top of it. Is it mental illness tgat causes addiction, or addiction that causes mental illness? Nobody knows for certain, only that there was a trugger that led to the addiction.
      I’ve been dealing with this with my own daughter. Yes, it’s a rollercoaster, yes l, it affects the whole family, and yes, we want the child we knew and adored back! But the demons want them too.
      I pray for your son, your family, and all the others who are fighting the same battle, pray for those that have lost a loved one, a spouse, a friend, to addiction.
      My middle daughter has lost 3 friends to addiction. Out of the 3, 2 were organ donors and the the two families of the donors wanted their child’s heart to go to my husband. It made us cry tears of joy for the offer, the idea of keeping a piece of their child alive through my husband, and the notion to give him the gift of life.
      Hugs, sweet Courtney ❤ my beloved Nocte author 😊. Keep on writing because I truly can’t focus on my own 😥 with all the chaos.

  3. Courtney, I’m sitting here typing through my tears. Mother to mother: I’m hugging you tightly, and praying for you and Gunner. You’re not alone. Never alone. I’m local. You want to talk? I’m here. Just a short drive away. I’ll lend any help you need, even if just an ear. Stay strong. <3

  4. My heart goes out to you and your family. I’m rooting for Gunner, and for those who share his struggles, like my sister who is a lifelong addict that has cycled in and out of recovery. I love her from a distance now, but I love her still. I wish Gunner strength and patience and self-love. And I hope for many happy days ahead for your family to share with him.

  5. I know both the struggle of loving someone who has an addiction and dealing with an addiction myself. The monster Addiction can swallow up any family, I’ve lost many loved ones to it. My addiction almost cost me everything, my marriage, my health, my children. Almost. I’ve been sober for 5 years now, so never give up on him. It IS possible to beat Addiction. No matter how far gone he might seem, there’s always hope. Never be afraid to share your story, your battle against this Monster. This was beautifully written, and I thank you for sharing your and Gunner’s story. My prayers are with you both.

  6. There definitely will be prayers for you and your dear son, Gunner, to be healed in God’s love and Grace!
    I began to pray when you stated that Pax was based on someone you knew personally! It is not a hardship I would wish on my worst enemy and your struggle and his is REAL!
    Please know that you are prayed for, thought of dearly and wished well and successful in your endeavor to help and love each other.
    This is not an easy thing to ask help for and I applaud you. Keep your eye on the prize that awaits you and your dear son and family as the healing begins! God bless you!
    Love, Earlene

  7. I just briefly came across this and I have read your story about Pax Tate, truthfully I have read it more than once. I too had a serious problem with drugs at one point of my life, started when I was 18 and it lasted several years. I took my family on a roller coaster ride as well, with lying and stealing whenever possible. Literally, what it took was for me to stop was to hit ‘rock bottom’ to the point where you’re thinking suicidal thoughts. I use to cut myself often whenever I felt so low, just to know I am not numb and can still feel the pain. But overall, my family stood by my side never once giving up on me. In the year of 2004, I gotten pregnant with my daughter there was NO way I was going to let her be brought up in drugged-induced home, the day i found out I was pregnant was the day I completely quit everything. I have been drug free since 2004. Just keep supporting your son and your grand baby. Eventually, his mind will mature more and see that he needs to become a role model for his baby. You’re a great mom for not giving up on him! He will thank you someday. Be strong it won’t be an easy ride but definitely worth it. =)

  8. Hi Courtney, thank you for sharing your story, which I believe is the story of so many. I am praying for strength and support for your son and your family to fight this battle. God bless!

  9. Very touching article. Folks need to know that addiction to opiates can happen to anyone and the impact is devastating. I hope your son will find a way to stay away from them. There has been good success with the Suboxone to help reduce the cravings, although some people do get addicted to that as well. A good friend has two sons who are both addicted, and I see the pain she goes through. So sorry and will pray for a good outcome.

  10. I just read this story and I feel for you and your family. I have a similar situation with my brother but his drug of choice is alcohol. He refuses to admit he has a problem, he is an adult so all I can do is preach until he hits bottom and hope that he doesn’t take someone else down with him. I see what it is doing to my mom and I wish he could or would to. I will say a prayer for your son and hope that this time is his final time and he finally beats his problem. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story and I hope you find strength in the support you receive from others.

  11. My son, too, is an addict. He is 28 and has been sober for 8 months. About a year and a half ago he nearly died with pancreatitis. That was his “wake up call”. It’s been rocky. Every time he goes anywhere I struggle not to panic. I’ll be praying for you, your don’t and your family. Thank you for sharing your story.

  12. You are strong to share this part of your family. My brother is an addict and it took a long time before my family would openly admit that to people. You either find judgmental eyes, or understanding eyes. The unwarranted blame my parent’s feel has been hard to see on their faces. Addiction robs the entire family, not just the person addicted. Gunner and your family are in my prayers. <3

  13. I have loved an lost so many in my life to THE ADDICTION. My prayers are for you and your family especially Gunner. As a momma my heart breaks for you. As the family member of an Addict I also know what it’s like waiting for “THE CALL” . MANY MANY MANY PRAYERS!

  14. God bless you and your family. My husband is an addict, although he’s been clean for over 10 years. For those of us who have watched a loved one go through this, we know how all consuming it can be, for everyone involved. The worst part for me was how helpless I was to make any true difference. All of the control is in the hands of the addict, and I don’t think they realize that it’s not just their own lives they control…it’s all of their loved ones, too. I don’t live in terror any more that DH will relapse, but I’ll never forget what it felt like to live with the daily fear and frustration. I’ll pray for you and your son. Big hugs, mama. Bless you for sharing your story.

  15. Thank you for sharing this. The tears are streaming down my face and my heart hurts for you. My family is going through this with my cousin, and I am going to share this with my aunt. Praying for you and your family.

  16. You, your loved ones and especially your son have my prayers. I hope he’ll find the beauty and wonders in this world again.

  17. I prayer he finds the strength and the courage to see that he is better than, worth more than then next high. That he finds the love within himself so that he can see and feel the love of those around him.

  18. You are not alone. Will be praying for your dear Son and you and your family. Definitely one of the hardest things a family can go through. So very sorry. We lost our 18 year old nephew to a heroin overdose. And now another nephew fighting the demon of addiction. I think the answer will be in gene therapy. I think it’s a faulty gene. You either have the addiction gene or you don’t. And they will be able to fix it one day. I pray they are working on it as we speak. My daughter wasn’t an addict, but we did lose her to cystic fibrosis when she was 25. So I know the pain of losing a child. The worst thing ever. But watching a child go down the path of addiction has to be a close second… You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  19. Your book marked me. I should have know it was written from the heart. I lost my dad to drug to a cocaine overdose, he was only 39. I am not a religious person so I wont lie and say I will pray for you. I will tell you this you are in my heart.

  20. Courtney I adore Pax and that book. I understand your pain – truly. I also understand the depth of your love. I’ll definately say a prayer for Gunner. ((hugs))

  21. Courtney..I just finished reading this while tearing up. Your son and your family are in my prayers. Our God is an awesome God. Always believe. Have faith and anything is possible.

    Stay strong!

    I seriously adored Pax!

  22. I remember reading If You Stay and crying through the story. It hit so close to home. I immediately called my mom and sister and told them to buy the book. My 23 year old brother is your son. We’ve lived with this since he was 16. It’s exhausting, frustrating, heart breaking and seems it’s never ending. I hope and pray one day they wake up and see how much love is here for them and take the steps they need to take. So much love and prayers from my family to yours. They can beat this devil, they have to ♡.

  23. I remember reading If You Stay and crying through the story. It hit so close to home. I immediately called my mom and sister and told them to buy the book. My 23 year old brother is your son. We’ve lived with this since he was 16. It’s exhausting, frustrating, heart breaking and seems it’s never ending. I hope and pray one day they wake up and see how much love is here for them and take the steps they need to take. So much love and prayers from my family to yours. They can beat this devil, they have to ♡.

  24. I read this and cried for you and your family. I couldn’t imagine going through this. I have seen my family members become victims to addiction. One cousin, in particular, was older than me and was like an uncle to me. He was sober for 10 years when he died. He passed away from HIV. The disease didn’t kill him, organ failure did. He stopped using heroin and started drinking heavily when he found out he was positive. It destroyed his liver. The methadone played a part too.

  25. Gunner! You are a strong young man, with so much to live for. As a sister to an addict, I can vouch for his tough a road it can be. My brother chooses not to get help. You have! Take every help available! Think of that beautiful baby boy and know, this too shall be overcame. My heart and prayers are with you and your family.

  26. I admire you for speaking out about your situation. There are so many families struggling with this same issue. My husband lived with his mother’s addiction for 40 years , until she passed away two years ago. It is definetly taxing to say the least. You and you family will most certainly be in my prayers.

  27. Thank you for your bravery of speaking out. Addiction is never easy, nothing can prepare you for the effect it will have on your loved one or your own lives. Honesty, going to meetings, knowing you are not alone is helpful. Prayers, we prayed, prayed that my brother would make it home, not in jail, not hurt anyone else while driving high or drunk, prayers and faith is what has helped. There were many calls in the night, many rehab stints, and finally he was tired, it would stick. Meetings are challenging but rewarding, the first time I heard my brother say his name followed by “I’m an addict” I bawled right there not caring who saw. There are sometimes I can still see it in his eyes or in his weight that the demons are back, but he goes to meetings and we talk about it openly. I pray for your son, and his, for your family, for his recovery, and his fight. My thoughts are with your son, may he see what is beautiful right in front of him. Strength, love, and prayers.

  28. Thank you for publishing this. I have seen so many of my kids friends and heard so many stories. It needs to come out in the open. I know many parents in this situation and they have tried everything.

  29. This made me cry. Most of this story about my son Brandon. Addiction is a ride every one takes when a family member is an addict. Parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, and their children. The only happiness of my first-born son’s addiction is that he’s now free of his demons and the drugs that took him away from us. We know where he is now. We no longer have to lock up/ hide/ get rid of our valuables. We no longer wait for the fateful phone call because it already came.

    I hope that Pax/Gunner continues to gain ground in his recovery.

  30. Found your site from a friend on Facebook. I just wanted to send you some hugs. My heart goes out to you. Your story is a familiar one for me. My mother was an alcoholic, had been for most of my life, and was also addicted to prescription painkillers. She died a couple years ago due to complications after surgery from her cirrhosis of the liver. She wasn’t even 59. I think she’d just lost her will to live. I tried to help her the best I could, but she tried using me to be her enabler (she’d gotten very good at lying to get what she thought she needed), and in the end, I had to pull myself back and allow her to fall or she’d take me and my family with her. Hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. You and your son and your family will be my prayers. God Bless.

  31. Oh, so so sorry to hear of his struggles and your heartache! I’m very much a prayer warrior and I’ll bow my head tonight with your family heavy on my heart.
    Drugs are rampant, and I fear for my 16 yr old son’s future, his friends, and every decision they make. I preach at him and all I hear is ‘I know mom! I know, I know!’ But, does he really? It’s terrifying.
    All we can do is love them. Your reaching out is essential and brave and I guarantee there are moms reading your truth that are going through similar heartache.
    Please know, your son is blessed to have you and you’re both in my thoughts and prayers.

  32. How touching this is to read. My heart and prayers are with you and your family. I pray to god to comfort you and to guide you and your family during this difficult time in your lives. As a mother, I feel your a pain and agony. As Parents we want our children to be safe. Thank you for having the courage to write about your struggles & fears.

  33. I just finished reading this article and feel for you. I will pray that this time in rehab works foryour son as he has a lot to live for.

  34. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. My family is also battling, it’s my brother and his is heroin. I’m also fighting my parents on not bailing him out, so that’s another story. What people looking in from the outside don’t understand is how the addiction ravages the whole family, and you are all basically held hostage by the addict and the drug until the addict decides to get help.

  35. I wish I could just sit with you and cry and hug you and drink wine and cry some more and hug some more and just be there with you. I know I can’t physically be there for you when I want to be, but I love you so much. You are so strong, and brave. Addiction IS a monster, and it takes the hero inside to conquer it. I know Gunner will be the hero of his own story. He is so damn lucky to be surrounded by people who truly love him and know what he is capable of. He just needs to rediscover that in himself. Thank you for baring your soul. There is nothing we would not do for our children and there’s nothing worse than feeling helpless and having to watch them hurt themselves. You are not alone. You are loved. And I hope Gunner knows that we are rooting for him, not judging him. He can kick this shit to the curb.

  36. I feel your pain. I lost my son on his 28th birthday to his addictions 4years ago. I pray for Gunner and you and your family.

  37. Courtney, I losty best friend to addiction of heroine. You are correct that this is this hardest thing to stand by and witness. He once told me SOBER stands for Son Of a Bitch Everything is Real.
    I hope and pray hard your baby boy will find strength my Dan couldn’t. He deserves to live a long, healthy life for his own son.

  38. I just wanted to say your family and Gunner’s are in my prayers. I have seen first hand also what drugs can do to people and it hurts. You haven’t ever given up and that’s what it takes, even though you sometimes wonder. Stay strong and believe!

  39. As someone who loves some Addicts I will say this hits home so deep and true. My story didnt end well for one of them . Having lost someone to Addiction and that monster that has talons and never lets go. There is life after and some can recover takes work and love and understanding. My prayers are with you and your family one day at a time I never knew how true those words were till I lived with an Addict. Much love and respect to you and your family will stay in my prayers

  40. Dear Courtney, Thank you for your honest post. I all too well know what you are going through. I have two brothers who are both addicts. They have been since they were teenagers. They are now in their 50’s and still have struggles. They go for periods of time where we are all lead to believe that they have finally conquered their demons. It is not always so. It is not right now. Our mother is dying of ALS, and I struggle with being angry at them for being so selfish. That their drug addictions are by choice. Reading your post, I am brought back to my senses, it is not an active choice. They have to fight to make a change. I will keep Gunner in my prayers. I will also keep you and your family in my prayers. I have 3 sons. 24, 21, 14. I tell them all too often to look at what their uncles have struggled with and to not make those same mistakes. So far, so good. I hope and pray.
    Keep writing. Pax’s story was one of my first I read when I started my reading frenzy! Feel the Love!
    Clista

  41. Reading this brought me to tears, as the mother of a recovering addict, you have to be strong for yourself as well as your child. My daughter now has 9 months clean, is now engaged to the man who has been a huge part of her recovery& they recently found out that they are having a baby!!! You & your son & the family at in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong !💗💗

  42. As the step parent of a recovering step daughter, I certainly understand what you’re experiencing. My prayers are with you cause this is not something that can be fixed. It’s a lifetime battle that only he can fight. They fight every minute, hour and day for the rest of their life. The only way they can be successful is to fight with those who understand their struggle. I hope Gunner fines his circle of soldiers. If their is a Bethel Ministry near you, and he’s willing, have him check it out. My prayers and wishes for a happy ending.

  43. Addiction is real. Fighting it one day at a time is essential. I have seen friends suffer from it and it hurts those who aren’t the addicts sometimes more then the addicts themselves. Hope and prayers for your family especially for Gunner.

  44. Courtney, my heart breaks for you! I we are learning in this household all to well what any type of addiction can do to a family and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I will keep you, your son, & your family in my prayers because we all know they are more capable than any man made thing!

    Try and keep your chin up!

  45. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. Praying that Gunner finds the strength to beat this monster once and for all. Love to you and your family and thank you for bravely sharing your struggles.

  46. Prayers for your family. It is so hard to watch and feel helpless. My neighbor lost her grown son to huffing. He left behind a small daughter. I hope your son is finally able to see the light and get the help he needs to stay clean. Much love & prayers!

  47. Ohhh Courtney honey this breaks my heart. I’ve been where you are not to the extreme of herione use but pills are just as powerful. It’s so very scary being a parent but being one to an addict is a whole level of scary in itself.

    I’m praying hard for your son and your family xx

  48. Thank you so much for sharing….I have felt so alone for so long! I am very happy your son is still alive and doing good…sadly, mine died two weeks ago from those same drugs! Our family did all the things you did…therapy, rehab, even prison when he walked out of rehab. A year later he walked out of another rehab clean, sober and focused…we were overjoyed! He even found love, and they were so in love! Three months later…his dead body was found in a still running vehicle at a carwash…needles at his side.

    my heart is broken and our family ripped apart…..

  49. As a mother I feel your pain in your words. I will say lots of prayers not just for him but you and your family. I’m a strong believer in AA, alanon, tuff love and follow through i hope that if you and your family dont have any place/ support please find some. Take care.

  50. While I cannot understand your pain in the true, deep, dark way that you do, I feel for you. I know the love that I have for my young children, and I cannot imagine how I would feel if one of them fell into addiction’s waiting maw. I am sure you feel helpless, hopeless, and alone much of the time, but I hope you are also able to surround yourself with love, companionship, and laughter. With some joy that you reserve for yourself, no matter how selfish you may feel for doing so. You deserve it.

    I don’t pray, but I will think of you and Gunner often. I hope he finds his way home to you.

  51. Thank you for writing this. I can relate a lot with what you said. My brother was addicted to heroin. It started with oxy and Marijuana and moved into mushrooms, cocaine, and eventually heroin.

    It changed the person he was. He lied, he stole, but most of all, he hurt us all. Those years were the toughest on my family. I never thought we would ever be able to get him back.

    But we did…eventually. And it can be done. My brother quit cold turkey, and it was like hell but we were there for him. The thing is, he has to want it for himself at the end of the day and no one can force that decision. It has to be his own.

    Being an author myself, I also wrote some of the things my brother did into my books. I like to use his experiences as the realistic fiction I add to my books. I like to be able to show my readers that even though life is hard, it’s worth every second. That even though you fall down, you keep getting back up.

    All my best for Gunnar, I hope his new baby gives him the reasoning he needs to make a change for the better.

  52. Addiction is scary. It will eat you alive if you let it. My thoughts and prayers are you with your son and your family. He has so much to live for with that precious baby and his future wife.

  53. The thought of watching my son go in to such decline would break my heart. And yes with three children of my own 19 to 25 I can see how easily it can happen. I pray he continues on this new path and having a son of his own will give him the strength to carry on. Yes of course he must want that for himself first. My best wishes go out to you and your son and his lovely family.

  54. I am 47, I became an addict after barely graduating H.S. Cocaine was my drug of choice, I spiraled downward quickly and began committing crimes to feed my ferocious appetite for that feeling of numbness. My poor mother ( family and friends) could only watch me self destruct, they knew me at my best and now I became a source of great suffering and disappointment for them. I ended up in prison,everyone ( but me) thought this was going to be the miracle cure for my addiction? The truth is, I didn’t even begin to address what drove me to drugs. My self worth, dignity, values … all gone, not only was I self destructive, I sabotaged and destroyed every relationship I had! This was done with one final act of insanity, I escaped from a minimum security prison with only month’s left to serve? I refer to this as,” The not , so great escape”! During the commission of this foolish crime , I ( we, I had a partner in crime in this) we broke into a home and tied up the occupant’s. Turned out to be a Correctional Officer from the prison complex we had escaped from. This sentence carries 20 years, life changing moment indeed. We drove off in his car ( after tying them up), in our stunted minds we had thought we’d simply drive to California and disappear. We were so immature and foolish, we didn’t have the capacity to understand consequences? About half way across the country, (in Colorado) we got into a chase with their officer’s, we had to get out and run in order to further elude them. We knew if we were captured, we would face serious prison sentences! We desperately wanted to get away and we now entered another home and tied up two more people. Driving off in yet another stolen car after committing this second home invasion, we were now likely to spend the rest of our lives behind bars! Truth be told, that would’ve been the best place for us, we were simply that out of control. We didn’t get far before they chased us down and arrested us, the realization of what we had done hit me like a ton of bricks. Colorado gave us 30 year terms, Massachusetts gave us 4 to 5 to be served after Colorado was done with us. Also we owed the years we were serving before we escaped, in total we owed approximately 40 years with 20 years probation if ever released. Two lost souls who were now in a place of hate and anger, for many years I acted out, trouble followed me everywhere. My family and friends wanted little to do with me, couldn’t blame them in the least, I was not being the person my amazing mother raised. I was eventually sent to a Super Max Prison because escape implements were found in my cell. I was now to spend the next 3 years in solitary confinement, 23 hours in a cell by yourself, 45 minutes in an exercise room by yourself, 15 minutes in the shower, ( thankfully ,by myself😀) back to the cell and repeat daily. Imagine being alone with the person who disgusts you most? The person who you’re embarrassed to say you know!

  55. Courtney, I pray for your son, his new baby, fiancé and you. My heart breaks for you. I have four sons. We raised them all the same. The youngest one was “bored” in school. Alcohol, pot, staying out past curfew, going to parties, ran away, but came home. And a dropout at 16 – because by law he can. His friends have been arrested, one committed suicide this summer, another attempted suicide and yet a third was released from our local mental hospital after being on suicide watch. People tells us “kick him out”, “ground him”, “make him pay rent.” We don’t do those things. We keep trying. We keep a roof over his head. He is safer here than on the streets. We take it day by day. We pray. We talk. We hug him. We love him. We tell him and show him we love him. He is now 17 1/2. It has been a very long 3 years. We are seeing positive changes. He had his physical today. He had blood work done and a urine test. I anxiously await the results and I pray. I commend you for standing by your son, for asking us to pray for him, for letting your heart guide you in helping him and standing by him in his darkest moments. My son has had dark moments. We held on. He called me one night in tears and told me he loved me and was so thankful that I never let go, that I am his lifeline when he needs it most. I pray that your son finds his life line. Perhaps, his infant son, will be just that.

  56. This was beautiful, and so true. As a child of two addicts, sister to a 21 year old addict, and life with many other addicts in the family, I can understand a little of your pain. I’m so sorry – and I will pray for your son (and your whole family). He really does have so much to live for, and I see that light still shining in his eyes. Hope is not lost. (((hugs)))

  57. The path to recovery is one that is long and arduous. It plunders our souls until there is no breath or will to repeat the words but you feel to your very core, “they can do this.” You watch helplessly as your love one steals more than just their own soul, they’ve seeped into your own. I have to believe that these paths, as families with members with addiction, will fortify our purpose. You writing out to the universe what you truly wish, may be the way to get all the positive healing vibes to your son. My heart aches for you as a mother and my soul is touched by your words. I am sending Gunner healing vibes but I am also sending your spirit healing vibes as well. This journey you’ve been on, no one ever should want to experience, but you’re doing what the creator wants from you. You’re telling the story of the struggles and by that you’re helping many.

  58. Oh my dear…my heart goes out to you and it goes out to him. I know this disease all too well. Please, please, I urge you–you personally–to seek out an Alanon meeting. This will help you cope. Alanon will give you some peace of mind.
    My father was an addict/alcoholic. Many family members are addicts/alcoholics. I’ve lost many people, including my father to this disease. I have been an active member of Alanon for many years. Addicts/alcoholics get very sick, but we get sick too. Sometimes sicker because as they run as fast as they can in full flight from reality (stoned or drunk) we chase them, desperate to save them, and we do that sober. It tears us apart.
    This disease affects everyone it touches.
    Your son, your precious baby boy is in there. Love him where he is, no matter where that place may be. Love him each day, because today is all we have. Love him, just like you’re doing, because that’s all you can give him. You are in my prayers.

    And I will pray for him–heroine is the absolute worst drug anyone can take. You probably know this, but just in case: It changes the chemistry in the brain, it damages the opiate receptors and once they are damaged, they cannot be repaired. It is the only drug that the body (because of the brain) truly becomes dependent upon, and will continue to crave forever. Its an enormous struggle for heroine addicts to get and stay clean. My God, I will pray for him.

    I have a blog I used to write in a lot, its all about 12 step recovery and my journey in alanon. I wont link you, because I’m not intending to spam, but only to share some of my experience, strength and hope if you care to read.
    bleedinginsanityagain.blogspot.com

    With love,
    D.

  59. Wow!! Being a recovering addict myself…I will pray my heart out!! I’ve dealt with all aspects of addiction and it’s so hard to be powerless over another person that you love so much!!

  60. You slayed me with this post. I have to be honest, I don’t know anyone that is doing drugs. This type of hard drugs like heroin and all kinds of horrible poisonous crap. So it’s hard for me to grasp how one can decide to start with it, even with the “little” things like aerosol cans. I don’t get the initial appeal. I do understand that once a person starts, the cravings draw them more and more into it.

    I commend you for being so freaking strong and amazing, and knowing yourself enough to use your writing as a form of therapy. I’m sure dealing with this is taking a HUGE toll on you and your family.

    Stay strong. I’m sending the most positive vibes I have to you and Gunner.

    As much as I love Pax Tate, I’d give up the sequel and heck, even the first book to have Gunner’s drug abuse history gone as if it never happened.

    Hugs. Eleanor

  61. I walked in those shoes and am happy to say that our family got a happy ending because our oldest son made the decision that he was ready in time. You are absolutely correct that the addict cannot get better until he makes the decision on his own. After several traditional rehabs, our son found Ibogaine while researching methods to kick an addiction without maintenance doses. It saved his life and thus, saved our family. He has worked in the Ibogaine field for several years now and we have had the opportunity to see it transform the lives of many lost souls. I hope only the best for your family and for every family struggling with the disease. I know many who didn’t get the happy ending and I feel their losses in the deepest part of my heart. I will share our story with anyone who will listen because there is hope.

  62. As I was reading, I’m thinking to myself “This is me, I could have written this myself”. “My cute adorable little blonde haired, caring, loving, heart of gold boy! When he was 13, I had an early miscarriage and remember how hard that he cried when I told him. He was always such a wonderful big brother! Then the change, he kept the good grades, played football, but distanced himself. Different friends, became hard instead of loving. Then I looked at your sons picture, wow how they even resemble each other! The shoulders, the hard sunken face. The young boy body. I frequently feel so alone, that no one understands how I feel or what I am going through. That I am such a terrible mother. That I can’t make this go away and help my son. He has been in rehab 3 times but for all the wrong reasons. His brother is following in his footsteps. Their sister is with the same type of guy. I don’t believe that she has ever ised drugs, but she is being pulled into this lifestyle. Thinks if she walks away, he will get worse. (She blames a girl for walking away from her brother). I will pray for you and your son too.

  63. I’m in tears and my heart aches reading this. As the mother of a 17 year old I pray that he makes the right choices in life moving forward, but thats all we can do we have no control over them we have to just be there for them no matter what. Im praying for Gunner and that the love surrounding him finally opens both his heart and eyes.

  64. I’m sending prayers for Gunner and your family.
    I’ve also lived through this on more than one occasion.
    I’ve known and seen many go through this addiction.
    Unfortunately it wasn’t a happy ending. MY ex lost his life to this addiction with an overdose. I saw it coming, we all tried to help. I also have friends that have passed as well as my younger brother who is an recovering addict. He had a son 7 years ago and is doing great. He’s clean and his whole life is that child. I’M praying this happens for Gunner. There is nothing worth living for more than the miracle of a child. LOVE and hugs and prayers that you can all get through the tough road ahead. Just remember to have the strength and courage to do what needs to be done to bring your son back to you healthy.

  65. I’m so sorry you are going through this. Addiction is so hard. My mom was a addict for all my life. She got really bad on Meth in about 1990. She finally quite almost 4 years ago.. My first glimpse at heroin was with a close friend who worked with us. It is heartbreaking to watch. Thankfully we all pulled together and he got the help he needed and is clean and enjoying his kids. My sister in law is currently addicted to Heroin. She has put drugs in front of her children and life. I currently have her daughter who is 5 and she’s has had such a hard life I don’t have it in me to tell her the man she knows as her dad Over dosed on heroin in July and died.
    Being that drugs were all around me all my life I never wanted anything to do with it. I seen how it destroyed lives and families. Well the heart doesn’t always listen. Maybe I thought I could save him I don’t know. He was my friend, I have know him years, his dad had just died from a bad batch of drugs. I was 17 and he was 21. He was addicted to Meth and a alcoholic. I thought my love could help him. It didn’t addiction doesn’t work that way. Three years in and a new baby I was done living that way. I was ready to put in the towel. he was finally ready for him. We decided to move across the country and away from work and friends. I thank God for that move. He has been Clean now of Meth for 12 years and Alcohol for almost 5 years.
    I will be praying for your son and family. Never give up Hope. I do believe heroin is the worst out there. It brings them is such a dark place and don’t let go. I share my life with you to give you Hope he will be strong and get through this. My heart breaks for you and your family. I know the pain it causes. They never see that they have the problem. Hugs to you. One of the hardest things a mother could go through. Stay Strong and continue to be the support he needs even when he doesn’t see it or thinks he needs it.

  66. Prayers for you and your family! Praying that Gunner will find it in himself to be brave and strong to fight this addiction! Sending hugs, love and prayers!

  67. I will include your son and family in my daily prayers. My prayer everyday is that my 3 (18, 21, 24) daughters not be tempted,as drugs are rampant in our pretty little suburban town and they all know someone who has succumb to the high.

  68. Hey Courtney,

    Thanks for your honesty. My heart goes out to you. I have seen and lived with the devastation that goes hand in hand with addiction. I think most people can’t relate until they have lived with it.

    My husband lost his 15 year old brother many years ago. I don’t think his Mom ever fully recovered enough to raise the rest of her children. She survived and later passed on due to cancer.

    Flash forward 20 years and my husband lost another brother to addiction. His brother Steve was a sweet, lovable, family man who raised 2 successful girls that were not his own. He was a great chef and even more talented musician with a fabulous sense of humor. He was so loved. After 20 years of sobriety he started using him and he overdosed. After a year in a coma and his wife’s relentless care, love and optimism he was removed from life support and passed away days before his 50th birthday. It is a weight we carry with us everyday.

    I have raised my children (14, 12 and 5) with the knowledge of what happened and that addiction is real and runs in the family. When I look at my kids and their friends and see their social media accounts I cringe.

    I agree with you, we educate and love and help and set them free and hope for the best. I worry about it every day.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Social media can be a powerful weapon, and by sharing your story you have given some hope, support and some food for thought. Maybe it will be enough to have someone reconsider their choice of trying some substance that they have not tried yet.

    Best of luck to you and your family. XO

  69. Your story was beautiful and moving. It must have been hell to write and put out there for others to see, but thank you for sharing. I have 3 children, still so small and innocent. I can’t imagine this happening to any of them and yet…and yet God only knows their future. I’ll keep Gunner in my thoughts.

  70. It’s interesting, the word love. There is no greater love than a mother for her child with the exception of God’s love for that child.

    I will be praying for you and with you throughout each day, keeping you aloft and hugging you with my heart.

  71. I remember when I met you and your son . He was having problems then and I had recently lost my daughter my heart truly goes out to you I mean that with everything I have as a mother who has been threw similar things and lost the fight all I can say is keep on loving him and keep telling him to be strong now he is a father would he want to see this or loose his son . My life has changed that’s for sure I will praying for you.

  72. My son Devin is 22 and is also an addict, he was 17 when he first started using. He’s been clean for 8 months now but i agree with your rollercoaster analogy, at one time he was clean for 2 years but still fell back in with it. I pray everyday that this time is successful for him, some days are easier then others. As a mother you just want to take all of it away for them, the cravings, self destructive behavior, the self loathing but we cant. Were mere bystander’s, we offer our support, maybe a safe place to stay, food and most importantly our love but sometimes its not enough, they have to want it for themselves more then we want it for them. As a family we speak out about it, his addictions are not going to be a dirty little secret. Were fighting a war against a monster that grows in the darkness and behind closed doors, it needs to be brought out into the light of day so it can be seen for what it really is and so that other families going through the same thing know they are not alone. I pray for your son and that one day he’ll find the peace and strength with in him to overcome his demon’s and that we both as mothers can look our sons in the eye and see true happiness.

  73. I am proud of you for having the courage to tell the so familiar story of your family…My son is also a heroin addict who had everything to offer the world…He was raised in home with two stable loving parents and was given a good start to life. Unfortunately as he hit his teens he started to fall into that black hole and no matter how many times we tried to pull him out, he just continued to fall. Rehabs, jail and eventually prison, has not been able to let the grip of addiction free. I thought a year in prison would do it, but he overdosed the same day he came home. Thankfully someone has always been with him to bring him back from the brink of death multiple times. But as a parent you realize that will not always be the case…There are only so many times a human body can handle it before it takes the life you a working so hard to save. My son also has a child, but the drugs are more important. He is only 26 and each year I pray he will make to the next. You cannot make them do anything…They are adults and have the right to refuse treatment and help. You can only plead, beg, demand, cry, reason, wish & hope that they realize all is not lost and grab the life raft we keep launching their way. Know you are not alone in this struggle. There are many more stories just like ours out there. Hoping the best for you and your family to make it through to the other side of this ongoing, never changing, never relenting nightmare.

  74. Courtney, I’m not sure if you saw the post I made on my author page, around a month ago. But my ABSOLUTE prayers are with you, your family, and Gunner. If need be, show him my post. HE. CAN. BEAT. THIS. MONSTER. Love you, sis. <3

  75. 😥 As I am reading this, tears are falling. Addiction sucks! I recently lost my first boyfriend to an over dose. Though it had been several years since we were together, it was still heartbreaking. My brother is also a recovering addict. He has been clean going on 15 years and says it’s a struggle everyday. I am praying for your son and your family.

  76. My thoughts and prayers are with you for your son, his fiance and that beautiful new baby of his. I’ve known one addict in my life that to rehab and she seems to be doing well. Then one young guy experiment in heroin once or twice and it resulted in an overdose at 22. Drugs do not discriminate. They’re not picky about who they suck the life out of. All I can say is keep doing what you are doing Momma. Love him when he doesn’t want your love. Love him when you are frazzled to your last nerve…just keep loving him. I’m always here for an ear or a shoulder if you need one too.

  77. Amazing how parallel this is to my life. My son Chase has the exact same story, only he is in jail and waiting to be sentenced to prison for drug related crimes. This truly is a never ending roller coaster ride through HELL!!! I will pray for you and Gunner and I would appreciate any prayers you can spare for Chase. I would purchase and read your book, but to be honest with you I need to escape my reality. It’s not a place that I choose to dwell. I live paralized without joy in my life. I try hard to enjoy my many blessings however, the miserery that I feel 24/7 just doesn’t rest. Ever!!! Love and prayers to you and the many others who have been plagued by this horrible disease.

  78. Praying for your son…God has a plan and He is the only one who can save him. Choices he makes cannot be controlled by you…you cannot save your son nor can you fix him. Find peace within God’s word…that is the only thing that will lighten your load. We lay a foundation for our children but we must remember it is and always will be God’s will. I pray your son realizes how many people he is effecting by using drugs….continued prayers to you.

  79. Big brave hugs to you. I know this disease too well. Its stealing so much all around me. From friends and family and at one time, myself I can relate.
    Praying for you and sending many positive thoughts to you and Gunner.

  80. Please remember that God is in control and he is the only one with power to save you son. I have been in your shoes. My son was in sports and had a bad injury and was placed on Lortab. Little did I know how addictive they were. When the time came that he was healed from his injury he was hooked on the pills. He advanced from Lortab to stronger and stronger pills selling everything he owned to buy them then stealing from us to buy them. I placed him in rehab and as they walked me out that first night the woman told me most kids his age were in there for the same thing, sports injuries that resulted in pill addiction. Just like your son he was not ready to give that life up so when he got out he went right back to it. He stole money from an employer and got caught and taken to jail and I as his enabler bailed him out got his charges expunged with him promising to get well. At 21 his fiancée was pregnant and he was driving and hit a telephone pole. She was supposed to have been with him but at the last minute decided to ride with my husband and myself. That was God, if she had been in the car she and the baby would have died. My son was arrested again for DWI and having pills on him with no prescription. In 2013 his fiancée had a baby boy. That baby was God’s special angel sent to save my son. After seeing the baby he made up his mind he didn’t want his son to ever see the side of him we had all seen. It was a long, hard slow recovery but with lots of prayers and hard work my son has now been clean and sober for 3 years. Every day is a gift from God. I sat here looking into your sons eyes in the picture you posted and prayed to God that he would give him the same gift he gave to my son. Don’t give up on him and don’t lose faith in a God who can change him. I pray that you are given the gift I was because I
    read your story and got knots in my stomach remembering some of the same things happening to us. In 2014 I would have thought we would have buried my son a long time ago and instead I rejoice in the joy he is having as a father to a 3 year old. Love and prayers going up for you and your son!

  81. I understand your pain. I have a 21 year old that has gone through the same. Only she lost her custody of her 4 year old along the way. She is now in rehab and seems to be doing good. She has a strong boyfriend who knows the story and we are praying we can get our girl back to living so she can get her daughter back to make a life for them. I’m sorry anybody else has to go through this may God be with us all.

  82. Dear Courtney, I just found your FB page tonight. My eldest son, aged 30, died by suicide on 17 Sept last year (’15) while detoxing off heroin. It was SO devastating. When he was doing well, WE were too .. and when he was struggling, so were WE! You know the territory .. our love for our children is just like that!!! He hated himself during the times that he “used”. That broke my heart … Thank you for your honesty, and for starting up this page on FB. I WILL pray for Gunner, because where there’s life, there’s hope. God can do impossible things. And in the meantime, when we’re courageous enough to be open and honest about our struggles we live with, He causes peoples’ paths to ‘cross’, and a lot of new friendship and encouragement begins, where it would NEVER have before.

  83. I will pray for you and Gunner and I hope with all my heart that he success in beating his addition. My son was not successful. For twelve years he struggled and I prayed and cried and worried through all the ups and downs. A year and a half ago at the age of 32 he died of a heroin overdose in his bedroom down the hall from my bedroom. This evil drug is stealing our children! I hope your books will help shed light on this catastrophic situation.

  84. I will pray for you & your son. I well know the battle of addiction. Today I buried my son next to his father. Both dead from a needle in the arm. My heart is broken. This has to stop.

  85. It is hard as a mother not to kiss it and make the boob go away. The addiction not only is killing them it’s killing us. I worry all the time. Always trying to find away to stop what the drug are doing to my children. I will be praying for your family. Will you also pray for mine. Thanks

  86. Courtney – My heart hurts reading about Gunner and his struggles. I don’t have a personal connection to addiction so I suppose I cannot really relate but I am so sorry for what Gunner and your entire family has struggled with for so long. I truly hope this is the time that Gunner is ready to accept the help and get healthy again. He seems to have so much to be there for. All my good thoughts are being sent for Gunner and you and your family.

  87. Oh, your story is the mirror image of mine.
    Except that my son is now 24. He too was once my beautiful baby boy.
    I am so tired of this drama….and being afraid for him. I cannot fix his problems anymore!
    I live everyday waiting for the phone call from him….what will he say today? What will he need from me today? Will he finally say he is finished and tired too? I hope you see this and we become pen pals….

    • Jeannie,

      I know your pain. I am very familiar with it, unfortunately. I’ll say a prayer for you AND your son. I know the exhaustion that being the mother of an addict brings. I know the toll it takes. Take care of yourself. You deserve it.

  88. My son is 38. He is a crystal meth addict. It scares the heck out of me that I have to stop trying to control the outcome of his life. I am 63 and recently had a “small” heart attack. This was my rude awakening to the amount of stress I’ve lived with for many years now. I have the choice to take care of myself, but am heart broken that my son has yet to do the same for himself. I am glad that as a writer, you can utilize your creativity towards holding on to your own sanity. I have yet to get that far in my own recovery from my experiences. Your story is a reminder to me that we, none of us, are alone. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Shawn,

      Thank you for your story. Please take care of yourself. YOU deserve it. Please find something that you love to do, and DO THAT— at least once a day. It truly does help.

  89. Wow! Thank you for sharing this very personal saga of your life. Drug addiction is an epidemic in America (and probably elsewhere too) and no one is immune to it. My family has been torn apart by the affects of this terrible monster. It took me many years before I could even confide in anyone because I was ashamed and I thought my family was the only ones affected by it. Sadly, this is so not true. We all have been touched by it in some way. Your son has a very difficult journey ahead of him should he decide to go down the path that includes life without drugs. Just know that you are not alone.

    • It is definitely something that I didn’t want to talk about for the longest time. I felt like it was my failure, somehow. And it isn’t a pretty topic- many don’t want to discuss it. But it’s a real problem, and I think it needs to be brought to light.

      I am praying for you and your family, Lu. Thank you for sharing your story.

  90. Courtney, … my daughter Lauren is an addict. Bipolar first, shes trying to numb her loneliness with more pain. Reading as tears run down my face I am thinking how brave you are. Im not brave … yet. I dont know if I am ready to tell my friends, but my family knows. I am ashamed, and I feel like a failure. She is my one and only child and hates me in her addiction. No milestones for us to share, missung proms, no graduation ceremony, grad night, no friends to laugh and grow old out with… nothing, she missed it all! I feel cheated and robbed! But more importantly she has robbed herself. I so desperately wanta life with her still…. That strong Mother/daughter bond you see in movies, tv or walking in the mall. When I read similiar stories I hear Im not alone, but yet feel Im on a deserted island. last year in recovery she got pregnant and has recently blessed me with my granddaughter (5 months old). My daughter is 26 and still fighting to keep her recovery. Im praying her beautiful happy daughter gives her strength to keep moving towards the light. I look forward to reading about Pax and his jouney. Many times we want to give up out of pure mental exhaustion, but we cant and we dont. Stay strong for Gunner and I will stay strong for Lauren, they need us. the grandbabies need us more. You are all in my prayers, as I am right there with you.

    God bless