My son, who is now 17, had what appeared to be a charmed life until he entered his early teens. He was bright, happy and popular, and utterly joyful. I had concerns about his drinking because his father was an addict, and I noticed that my son seemed over enthusiastic about the idea of drinking alcohol, but hoped that it was just teenage experimenting.
However, my husband’s addictions became more and more evident; he was extremely verbally abusive to me in front of the three children as well as engaging in dangerous behaviour such as drink driving. I finally said that I was leaving him and taking the children with me until he got help (I’m sure anyone familiar with addiction will know that I’d threatened, pleaded and begged him for years, as well as engaging his family and friends to try and help). But two days before I left, he took his life in the woods near our house.
My son was obviously distraught, but also filled with guilt, blaming himself for what had happened, and his addictions, which had in fact started, became very evident and spun wildly out of control over the next year. He has a younger brother and sister. Initially, all three were very close, but he withdrew from them, and barely spoke to me.
On the anniversary of my husband’s death, he went missing, and I had to call the police, terrified that he was going to harm himself. Those few weeks, just before he went to YWCC, were the worst of my life. I feared that he’d go the same way as his father – and it was actually the point at which I begged our GP for medication to help me get away from my thoughts (which I happily took, but it just made me feel very slow, so I stopped). He was found, but I later found out that he had been self-harming for some time.
Fortunately, a friend had suggested I speak to YWCC. At first I thought it sounded a ludicrous idea – that he go away for ten weeks, but as he became more and more withdrawn and depressed – spending most of his time in his father’s study, vaping and gaming (plus everything else), I decided that it was actually the only option. By this point I had CAMHS and social services circling and there was the threat of him having to leave school (clearly, I don’t care about exam results anymore, but ideally I didn’t want him expelled).
Every night I locked the house and hid the keys. I didn’t sleep for fear he’d try to run away, and I felt that I’d completely lost my loving and laughter-filled boy. There was no alcohol anywhere, and I’d hidden all medications. Every day was utterly terrifying, and, in horrifying repetition of his father’s behaviour, he refused to believe that there was anything wrong with him. I’ve obviously seen the worst possible endgame of addiction, which is why I think I was so determined to send him.
Dave Noble managed to persuade him to go. The day that they left in a taxi was one of the most heartbreaking of my life, but the sense of relief was beyond belief.
He came out in February 2020, and I was absolutely terrified about his future. It sounds selfish, but after pretty much a decade of hell, I felt that we were owed some good luck, although clearly that’s not how life works! Thankfully, so far, he has done brilliantly. He relapsed once, but instantly did all the right things, and got back on track. I still live in daily fear for his future and the terror that he’ll relapse at university when he leaves home in just over a year. We have regained our close relationship, and if we fall out – which obviously we do quite frequently because he’s 17, we are both able to apologise to each other and work around things calmly.
His life was, without question, saved by YWCC, and the tools they’ve given him have so far held him firm.