06 March 2024

Stronger together: How reaching out helped Sarah save her family

Close-up of a person's hands holding a white mug with the words "Withyou" in blue text.
I found WithYou and picked up the phone. I can’t put into words how huge this moment was.

Sarah*, Parent

Sarah's story

Sarah* and her husband started having concerns about their son when he was 17. It began in lockdown, when their son moved back into the family home.

They wondered - hoped - it was just a phase, but there were signs which made them suspect drugs: they smelt things, there were extreme changes in his behaviour, and they were frequently asked for money.

What prompted you to seek help?

 “My husband and I would argue about our son all the time, and eventually, our relationship started breaking down. My daughter was left as an innocent bystander, just watching her family fall apart.”

Sarah explained how they tried to have conversations with their son, but they always seemed to erupt into shouting. At one of their lowest points, Sarah highlighted the impact it was having on everyone, and for the first time, he said he thought he had a problem. 

“We all agreed that we needed help, and the phone call to WithYou was the start of my son’s - and my family’s - recovery journey. 

“I found WithYou and picked up the phone. I can’t put into words how huge this moment was - there is so much stigma around addiction, and I was scared that we’d be blamed as parents for my son’s challenges. But I was wrong. We weren’t blamed, instead, we were put in touch with a recovery worker who understood and educated us about dependency."

What happened next?

“We started “detaching with love”: stopped rescuing and enabling, stopped protecting him from the consequences, and let him hit rock bottom. Our new understanding of addiction led us to put boundaries in place, and we told him he could choose to accept them or leave the family home. He chose to leave, and while we remained in touch, we told him that if he needed someone, he should go to his recovery worker instead. After six months on his own, he hit rock bottom. It was at this point that he had no option but to call his recovery worker, and within three days, he was in a recovery home.”

Sarah’s son is now 22 months into his recovery and thriving. He’s back at university, competes in triathlons, and with further support of Narcotics Anonymous, he’s remained abstinent from drugs and alcohol. Sarah feels like they have their son and their family back, but better versions of both. 

Sarah, what’s your message to others who are concerned about their loved ones?

“If something doesn’t feel right and you suspect drugs or alcohol, I’d urge you to ask for help. There is so much darkness in addiction for families, but if I hadn’t reached out and spoken to a person who understood, I really do believe that I’d be ending this story with the death of my son, rather than his recovery.”


*Sarah's name has been changed to protect her identity.

Hear from others like Sarah