Palmer Drug Abuse Program (PDAP), “An instant army of love and support”
~ Written by grateful San Antonio PDAP Parents
In February 2007, we found out our youngest daughter, age 17, was a meth addict. This was of course a complete shock. We cashed in college funds and sent her to a treatment center, thinking that they would fix her. In May 2007, we heard about Palmer Drug Abuse Program of San Antonio (PDAP). We visited and sat in on the meeting of 50 or so parents sitting in a circle talking about boundaries and codependency and enabling, and of all things, the 12 Steps and powerlessness. We both thought it was about the craziest thing we had ever experienced. Surely, we did not need this place since there was nothing wrong with us. Why in the world would someone other than an addict or alcoholic need to work the 12 Steps?
Shortly after this, we found out an older daughter (age 26) was a prescription pill addict. Then, in May 2008, as the youngest daughter was supposedly completing after-care in Oregon, we visited her. She was most certainly not fixed. She was a complete mess and about to be expelled from the program. The older daughter was gradually getting worse and worse, despite stays at treatment centers. We suddenly felt completely powerless over both daughters. Instead of being the usual super-parent rescuers, we felt completely overwhelmed and useless.
We literally flew back to PDAP. We determined quickly that we needed desperately all four critical services that PDAP provides for free: weekly meetings (and social activities) for parents, addicts and siblings of addicts; counseling from experienced and trained counselors; weekly educational workshops; and working the 12 Steps with a sponsor.
We went to hundreds of meetings and got thousands of hugs, attended dozens of counseling sessions and educational workshops, and worked the 12 Steps and helped others work those life-changing Steps over the next 3-1/2 years. We learned how to take care of ourselves and how to use tough love and boundaries with our chemically dependent children. We learned we did not cause their disease, could not cure it and most of all we could not control it. We learned that we forget to love because we are busy trying to control and fix problems that we cannot fix. We learned to let go and let God. We learned that the more we let go, the better they get. We learned that all chemically dependent people have at least one enabler. We learned that choosing not to enable is actually an expression of selfless love. We learned there are multitudes of families suffering from the effects of this horrible brain disease. We learned that addicts do not want to hurt their loved ones—but drugs eat addicts’ souls. We learned that chemical dependency is an insidious and powerful disease of the brain and not a moral failing.
We were growing as parents, as Christians, and as spouses–while one daughter had lots of ups and downs and the other continued her gradual downward spiral. Finally in mid 2011, the younger daughter, with some tough love encouragement, tried PDAP. The effect was immediate and gradually we saw the daughter we once knew before drugs re-emerge. It was a complete transformation ultimately. By early 2012, she had a full-time job and was preparing to move into her own apartment, and there was no sign of the past five years of struggle. She loved her Thursday counseling sessions and meeting. She realized how much God had been involved in her life despite her brain being hijacked away from God for so long.
Meanwhile, things were declining for the older daughter, and in February 2012, the phone call that every parent of a chemically dependent child fears above all else, came. Our daughter had passed away from an overdose of prescription pain killers—one of 29,000 Americans who will die from prescription pill overdoses this year.
The first four people to come to the hospital were from PDAP: the executive director, program director, parent counselor and one of our dearest parent group friends. This PDAP friend and we had always joked that PDAP was like a second church. The response to our tragedy from PDAP went far beyond anything we could have ever imagined from a church. Visits filled with tears and hugs, food for 10 days, assistance driving to make arrangements, and on and on. It was an instant army of love and support. Never have we experienced anything like it. The stress on parents of chemically dependent children is immense. We feel strongly that we may not have made it ourselves over the last five years without PDAP. We certainly know that we are much better able to handle the grief of losing our child due to the support of PDAP.
PDAP has been one of the greatest gifts from God that we have ever experienced. PDAP has been caring, compassionate and competent in leading us through this incredible wilderness experience. Despite our tragic loss, we feel strongly that the truth, the real truth, is that hope and healing . . . recovery and redemption . . . are real for those who will seek help from wonderful programs like PDAP.
~ Grateful San Antonio PDAP Parents
READ MORE ABOUT PDAP:
Powerless to Prevent:
Trish Frye, Program Director of Palmer Drug Abuse Program, spoke at the funeral of “Brittany” on February 11, 2012.
Recovery Resources for Friends, Families and Employers
Alcohol and Drug Addiction Self-Test:
Take this Alcohol and Drug Addiction Self-Test for yourself, or for someone you love.
AA Facts and History
> Phone Counseling for Family Members
Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery
> Audio Book CD (Listen in your car)
> Audible Audio Download (LISTEN TO 4 MIN. SAMPLE)
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Palmer Drug Abuse Center, PDAP, family drug help