My son: An Update

Tomorrow is my son Gunner’s 22nd birthday.

He will be celebrating it alone in a halfway house.

That might sound sad, and it is.  But it is also a joyful thing for me, a relief.  The fact that he is there means that he is safe.  It means he is alive.  

I admitted to you a month ago that my son is an addict.  And lord have mercy, that was hard.  I’m a very private person– at least with serious matters.  If something is wrong, I internalize it.  On some level, it is easier for me to deal with something if no one knows, and if no one asks me about it.

But this… I’ve lived with it for so long, and it became so heavy to carry.  I decided to talk about it, and I’m so glad I did.   I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for your prayers and support.

I cannot tell you how much it has  meant to me over this past month.  On low days, I’ve read through your messages again and again.  I’ve cried over some of your stories– at the other sons and daughters, sisters,  brothers  and parents who have been lost to addiction. At the same time, I have been filled with hope over the ones who have overcome it.

This is such a wide-spread pandemic, and no one wants to talk about it.  It is an ugly topic.  It is scary.  It is real.   I’m going to talk about it, though. I’m not going to hold back.  Not now, and not ever again.  This is a subject that people need to hear about.

We live in a world where everyone puts their best face forward on social media.  We stage our selfies at just the right angle, we tell stories of how well our kids are doing in school, and we take beautiful pictures during our vacations.  We all want people to know how well we do, and that’s fine.

But we rarely talk about the hard times, and that just isn’t life.  Life is full of good times and bad.  And I think that when we have bad times, we should share them– not just so that we can get emotional support, but so that others going through the same thing don’t feel so alone.

Many of you have asked how Gunner is doing now.  He has been sober for 5 weeks.  He has come through the physical withdrawals.  He came through the court-ordered drug rehab.  He is now in a half-way house, and will be there for the next month.

He has good days and bad ones.  Some days, he is upbeat and hopeful. Others, he is angry and ugly.  Some days, he is thankful that I called the ambulance that saved his life. Other days, he is furious at me, because when the ambulance came, they found drugs in his home that resulted in his arrest.

Addiction chemically alters brain patterns, and those malfunctions don’t heal overnight. Gunner will be dealing with those long-term effects for awhile.  He used drugs over a period of years– and that leaves a mark.  One of the things it does is affect judgment, and honestly, that terrifies me.

I’m terrified that when he comes out of the halfway house in a month, his brain patterns won’t be healed enough to sustain the real world, and he will fall into old ways.  I’m terrified of that.

But, like an addict has to take it one day at a time, one moment at a time, so too does a parent of an addict.

He is currently attending 2-3 NA meetings a day.  He has a part-time job at KFC– not glamorous, but it’s a job.  He is saying he wants to stay clean.  Since we’ve been down this road a few times before, and he has fallen off the sobriety wagon before, I’m afraid to hope.

But at the same time, I’m afraid NOT to hope.  Hope is all we have.  And I want my son back.

This is Gunner and his fiancee during a visit at rehab a while back.  He looks so much better already– he’s putting on weight, and he’s getting more color in his face.


I thank God for that.  I thank God that my son is alive right now- that he’s been given another chance.  I pray every day that he takes that chance and runs with it– that he soars, in fact.

I’m also thankful for YOU.  Thank you for being so supportive of me, and for praying for Gunner.  I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.  I’ll keep you updated on his progress.

I hope you’re having a wonderful December so far, and that your holidays are merry and bright.



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28 thoughts on “My son: An Update

  1. I am praying for Gunner to soar as well and for mom to hang in there. Keep doing what you can! He is blessed to have you!

  2. Courtney, I understand what you’re saying and feeling. We haven’t seem out son since my mother’s funeral 5 years ago. He used to call every 3-4 months, then the calls slowed. In our state we can search the court to see if he has been in trouble with the law but not what is going on in his life. He turned 35 in October and spent his birthday in prison. His is in a lesser security facility now but has a while to serve. We don’t know if drugs are involved but he does have a problem with alcohol. Our hearts hurt for him. He claims it is learned. My husband was a working alcoholic for over 20 years. Our son was 10 when he got sober. Just know that you are in our prayers and that your son can beat his addiction. Thank you for sharing your story. Take care.

  3. You’ve got this Gunnar! You’ve squated up with the piper and he’s going to chalkenge you. Keep fighting, fight through the depressive moments, fight for you, for your freedom, for your own son who needs you. Make him proud by being the father you most definitely can be. Cherish him because he too will grow, face the challenges of teen life and the choertion of drugs. You have more power than you know, you just have to grasp those threads deep down in your soul and keep on pulling them until all doubt has vanished.
    Cherish that little boy, every new challenge he overcomes and know you’re doing the same.
    You have a lot more to live for and you have a lot of people cheering for you!
    If that wagon chucks you off, climb the hells back on and keep on riding. Your life is worth it. YOU are worth it!
    Your mama is worth it, your father, sister, baby, fiancee, they’re all worth it.

  4. I pray for your son Gunner to have strength to carry him through sobriety for the rest of his life so one day he can look back and see how far he has come with love and support. I pray for the same for my son who is also an addict and doesn’t think he has a problem.

  5. It will take years for him to get his mind straight, believe me, I was there. He has to change all of his friends, his patterns, everything. NA meetings didn’t help me, it only put me in contact with other users. If he truly wants it, all it takes is a will to change and time. I have been sober for almost 7 years. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but so worth it. Sending lots of love and I’ll be praying for Gunner and you!!

  6. I continue to pray for him. He needs to have something to look forward to, something that makes him feel like he has a purpose and positive people surrounding him. Encouragement and positivity will carry him a lot farther then skepticism and negativity. We all want to be accepted.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it gives me hope for my son. My son Zack started doing drugs around 15, by 17 he was addicted to heroine. We’ve had him in 2 inpatient rehabs and 2 outpatient programs since he was 16. He turned 17 this summer and OD’d on his birthday, I called 911 and saved his life. He’s now across the country in a long term inpatient rehab. I’m scared to have hope but I do. I really want to thank you for sharing your story, I’m still not able to do so. Good luck to you and Gunner!

  8. Courtney
    Thank you for being so open and honest. My husband of 35 years was addicted to alcohol all his life. When we were first married I was too naive to be aware of all that involved. I, unfortunately, enabled him in his addiction because we had our own business and I thought I needed to make sure that the company needed to keep going, kids needed taking care of, houses needed to be bought etc. I did not think I could make it on my own. My husband ended up with alcohol induced Alzheimer’s and liver disease and passed away 2 years ago. Hate to say this but it was a relief. Addicts do not realize what a selfish disease they have. They suck the life out of themselves and their loved ones.
    I wish I had had the courage you have. Do your best. Thinking of you often.
    By the way, Pax is one of my absolute favorites! I remember writing you after his book coming out asking for a sequel and I’m finally getting one. Thank you!!!!

  9. So happy for you and your son. My son left 3 weeks of sobriety back into the meth he couldn’t beat. A few weeks later he disappeared, and has not been heard from for over 2 months. This may not seem long to some, but he always called home about once a week. I know that if he could have, he would have done so by now. We have passed the first Thanksgiving without him. We have been through the missing persons reporting and done everything possible to find him. Do what you can to help your loved ones who struggle with addiction, and remember that they have feelings, even though they may be li

    • Lord, this makes my heart hurt. I know that pain. Gunner has gone off the grid a few times, and it was horrible. I will pray for you, and for your son. Please don’t lose hope. It’s VERY possible that he’s on another user’s couch, or living in their garage, or out of their car. As mothers of an addict, we’ve seen everything that they might do– and please keep hope that this is another of those times, even if he HAS been gone longer than usual. I’ll be praying for you! Please keep me updated.

  10. I am praying for Gunner and your whole family. Addiction hits very close to me as I have friends that are in the process of and others that have so far successfully conquered this monster. I also know what it’s like to lose them forever as my brother died of an accidently overdose. Ben’s death was the hardest I’ve ever dealt with and I never give up hope that his death will shine a reminder light in the eyes of those he loved. I say a prayer for you all and wish Gunner nothing but the best!

  11. Prayers of strength for Gunner, for your family and for You. It’s very easy to give up hope and I am so glad that you have not given up on yours, especially during the hard times. Chin up girl, there are many of us behind you sending all of you prayers and positive thoughts we can send (even if you don’t know us personally).

  12. Courtney…

    I’m glad to hear Gunner is doing well in the halfway house so far. I’m sending all my love, prayers and positive thoughts to you, Gunner and his family.

    I’m also glad you’re continuing to share your life with us and allowing us to give you all the support and comfort we can offer. It makes a huge difference to have someone to talk to and unburden the stresses you carry.

    Here’s wishing you all happy holidays…and a wonderful, sober new year for your son! Please continue to to keep us posted on his recovery.


  13. I wish I could just be there with you and sit and listen, and hug you. My heart is full of hope for Gunner. It’s so hard to think that you want something harder and stronger than your kid does….or thinks he can…and having to surrender your child to their own path. I Love you Courtney. I will be sending all the positive energy and thoughts to Gunner and you. I believe in that power. Call me if you want to talk about nothing or everything or anything at all.

  14. As a chemical dependency counselor, I have worked with so many people both in your sons position as well as yours. 5 weeks is a great start and I am glad that he is in a halfway house to keep him going with his recovery. If possible, I would also try to get him into an outpatient treatment program to continue the support and education when he comes home. Inpatient treatment centers are great for beginning sobriety, but so many get out of there or halfway houses and don’t have the extra support they still need. Just a suggestion that you can do with what you will. Stay strong and keep the hope. Hope will show him that you believe in him and he needs that right now. Sending prayers of continued sobriety, strength, and healing for you all.

  15. Way to go Gunner!!!!! Keep kicking ass and taking names. It may seem like it sucks now but you just keep your eye on the prize!!! One day at a time. And HEY have your mom set up a blog and talk to us when ur having down days. We will be glad to listen if u ever need an ear. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!! YOU GOT THIS!!!! Lots of Love from Texas. You have a badass Mom… She will be strong when you are weak. Lean on her when you need to. Even if you are pissed off at her. Mom’s do whatever we need to whenever we need to when it comes to our kids. She did what she had to do. You will understand that once the clouds clear. She loves you… She just does not want to love you to death. Keep your head up..