BUCKHANNON — “It would be hard to find anyone in our community that hasn’t been affected by the opioid epidemic that is all around us, but I had to ask myself where these families could go to get help and support.” Scott Preston, one of the people who started a group built around helping families who have a drug addict in their lives talked about parents who have children suffering from addiction.
“I am the parent of a 27-year-old who started his road to addiction when he was a sophomore or junior in high school,” Preston said. “Logan will soon celebrate five years clean.”
Preston said parents have a tendency to go into a state of denial at the beginning and eventually start to blame someone else.
“The first thing that came to us as parents after we pulled our heads out of the sand and said, ‘Oh, it couldn’t have been my son’s fault, it was someone else’s influence on my child that made him do this,’” Preston said. “As it turns out, Logan shared with us, with the clarity of sobriety, that there was nothing we could have done as a parent to prevent his use of drugs.”
Preston said the three c’s of Nar-Anon help teach family members that the drug addiction was not their fault.
“In Nar-Anon, we learn the three c’s. We didn’t cause it, we can’t cure it and we darn sure can’t control it,” Preston said. “It is the hardest thing for a parent to get to that point and understand that there was nothing they could do.”
Preston talked about the big ‘but’ where parents try to stop supporting their addiction but there is always a reason to give them more money.
“But he needs gas money to get to work or maybe they go to jail and need bail,” Preston said. “It is very hard for parents to cut off support when their child needs them.”
He said he has seen other parents go the other way and cut off their child.
“In Nar-Anon we talk about detachment, about codependency and all these other things but there is no single right answer,” Preston said. “I have had parents in the program who have changed the locks, had their child arrested and did not bail him out and granted, this child has stolen everything from their house. That parent is devastated to this day for what they did, but in the grand scheme of things, he’s still alive because he was in jail.”
Preston said people in addiction have different versions of ‘hitting bottom’ that makes them see they need help.
“Every person in addiction has a different bottom that they hit,” Preston said. “A man at the Opportunity House said that when he woke up under a bridge in Morgantown he realized a dog was peeing on him and it wasn’t rain, that was his bottom. The bottom for our son Logan was when realized his entire year’s salary of $70,000 went to drugs, he said, ‘Oh my goodness I need help.’”
Preston said while the chemicals will leave the body eventually, that isn’t the end of the recovery process.
“The chemicals will get out of the body in about six months and you’re 95 percent there,” Preston said. “But what got you there were behaviors. In another six months you have to understand the behaviors of how you respond to life, what are healthy ways to respond to the crap life gives you?”
Preston said these programs help, but they are not getting enough people to attend.
“Twelve step programs and AA are programs of attraction, not promotion but these services are available to parents of addicts,” Preston said. “There are lots of thing in Buckhannon that are not being utilized, Celebrate Recovery is a program that deals with addiction for parents and people in active addiction and there used to be three of those programs in town and now there is only one. No one is coming to them and it is so incredibly sad.”
Preston said he thinks the problem is people are afraid of the stigma attached to drug addiction.
“I felt comfortable and confident that I could make a difference and with the help of Chapel Hill, because in our community we could fill that sanctuary with parents and I know that from talking to parents in the community,” Preston said. “We can’t get them to come, men and women in addiction are referred to our Nar-Anon group but we can’t get them in.”
The Buckhannon Nar-Anon group meets at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church Wednesdays at 7 p.m.