THE BLOG

How Addiction Changed My Life

09/03/2017 16:57
Ben Goode via Getty Images

Alcohol and drug addiction affects more than just user. It also affects family and friends, who are usually the ones to pick up the pieces time and time again, and who (in the worst case scenario) are left dealing with the grief of losing a loved one due to their addiction.

Relationships' charity, OnePlusOne, has been piloting a new programme aimed at helping families affected by addiction in partnership with Adfam. Recent research from the charity shows that 1 in 3 relationships affected by drug or alcohol addiction break down.

I should know - my son, James, passed away after fighting his addiction for many years. My marriage broke down and I struggled to hold down my job and my life.

Of course, this wasn't always the case. I was happily married for 22 years, and had two beautiful children. James was a free spirit, much like me. He and his father on the other hand, never quite had the same relationship.

After leaving school at 16, James tried a series of career paths, but they never fulfilled him. A few years later he chose to travel. Africa, Nepal, India - he loved it. But it still wasn't enough. We found out much later that he'd always dabbled in drugs, but after his travels, it became clear very quickly that he was in a bad way.

Our family dynamic changed. James' relationship with his father became fragile and his relationship with his sister had been affected too. By this stage my marriage had deteriorated and I felt sandwiched between James and my husband. I encouraged them to bond through trekking and walking in The Lake District (an interest they both had) but inevitably they returned at loggerheads.

James was not the only cause of the break down in our marriage, rather it had come to an end on it's own accord, but inevitably, external factors and situations did add strain too.

Eventually, James moved to London with his father to work alongside him. It was an opportunity for James to start again. However when it became obvious James was into drugs, his father could not cope and so James moved out.

It wasn't until the last year of James's life that he and his father got on an even footing. They both had developed a respect for each other. The same with his sister, he had picked up the shattered threads of their relationship and they were both trying to repair them. I am glad this happened because when James died, they were both in contact with him and it softened the blow.

I think we gave both children a loving home but perhaps we did not unite on their discipline in the teenage years. We did not seek help until James was well down the line but felt he was a young adult by this stage and it was up to him to get help.

When you're in that situation, you just want to help the person who is going through the addiction. It's easy to forget to look after yourself and the rest of your family.

So I want my experience to help other families who are living in a similar situation. That's why I'm supporting relationships' charity OnePlusOne, and addiction charity, Adfam, who have partnered to help families affected by addiction with a project called 'Relationship Realities'. 'Relationship Realities' is an audio resource featuring short stories and relationship advice from real people living in families affected by drug or alcohol misuse.

To find out more, visit oneplusone.space

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