One Family’s Journey Through Addiction

September 23rd, 2019

Editor’s note: As September is Recovery Month, we are sharing some of the stories of hope and recovery from Fairbanks. Here is one mother’s story of how addiction has affected her family.

Sheryl painstakingly talks about the day her son, Matt, was arrested and they learned about his drug addiction. It was a day that forever changed her family’s lives. On June 18, 2018, they embarked on a journey they were in no way prepared to take – a journey caused by the disease of addiction.

However, this isn’t a story of her son’s addiction, his arrest or even his road to recovery. Sheryl believes that’s his story to tell, not hers. Rather, this is the unbelievable story of how one family had their entire lives disrupted and how they created a “new normal” in an effort to support their son.

Until that frightful day in 2018, Sheryl’s family looked like many others: she and her husband both worked, the kids were successful in and out of the classroom. That was, until, her son was arrested. According to Sheryl, she felt as if they were watching a TV drama and as the facts began to unfold, she realized her family was amid this unlikely story. Her pain was incredibly intense as she dealt with this surreal situation. Her son’s path was leading them places unknown, daunting and unsettling.

After his arrest, they had a short window to determine treatment options. This was uncharted waters for the family. They researched treatment centers and programs across the U.S., including Texas and California. Their best option was the one they discovered in their own backyard: Fairbanks Treatment and Recovery Center. In addition to being close to home, the family could visit Matt, attend family counseling, family education support programs, parent support groups and more. Fairbanks offered the entire family the right treatment at the right time.

Once bond was granted, and while awaiting his sentence, Matt spent three weeks at Fairbanks’ inpatient. There he received medical intervention and a structured environment to help him abstain and recover from using drugs. From the initial intake, Sheryl knew the whole family would need to be involved in her son’s recovery process. And they were willing to do everything necessary to support him during a very difficult, confusing and trying time. Together, they would do everything they could to help their son gain the strength he needed to recover.

The family spent more than seven months at Fairbanks learning about recovery and finding ways to heal. Her son was sentenced January 2019 and is currently incarcerated. The family sees him twice a month and recently celebrated 1 year and 3 months of sobriety.

“As a parent we want to fix everything,” said Sheryl. “But we could not fix this. There is no cure and this disease is not going away.”

Their story does not have an ending as of yet. Matt has his own story that he will one day share. Until then, the one thing Sheryl knows for sure is that their path changed that day in June and they have embraced it. She has redirected her energy and felt a calling to help others in recovery. She serves as the chairperson for the Rise and Shine fundraiser for Hope Academy, where she is a fervent volunteer.

Sheryl shares her story in an effort to help others. Her advice to anyone affected by addiction: “Stay healthy, detach yourself from the daily worry, allow yourself to seek joy, take one day at a time and allow others to love and support you. Most importantly, know that recovery is forever for the rest of their life.”