On October 31st, my son celebrated one year of sobriety! What better way to put it? It’s a celebration, one of which I prayed many nights to happen. Through the much needed support, guidance and trust of Josh Gamaitoni (former Client Services Rep), Kevin Craner (Manager of Family Integrated Services), and Zach Craighton (Admissions Coordinator), we believe in Transformations. We believe they helped us get our son back – total strangers who have become family – without judgement, just empathy, advice, and guidance.
It’s difficult to define my son’s story. Just three months after turning 18 years old, his father (age 53) passed away from organ failure as a result of alcoholic addiction. My son’s father and I divorced when he was five years old. We shared custody as he was a caring man, but one with a disease, this lead to many disappointments more than I’ll ever know.
When in high school, my son was caught smoking pot while in a parked car. We got the early morning call. He entered a ‘program’ where he was monitored, which led the way to more alcohol. My son became self-destructive and perhaps he drank loosely in high school, but it shortly progressed to daily — morning, noon, and throughout the night. In his mind, he had no purpose. He was depressed. He got involved in tumultuous relationships. He was spiraling out of control, the disease had progressed and was taking over my baby boy’s life and not allowing him to see through the fog and be the kind, compassionate, and caring person that he truly is.
It was our summer 2016 family vacation, when it all came to the surface. He put himself into seclusion as he was drinking, binge eating, getting sick and doing it all over again. When he would surface, he was a mess. We were losing him; it was time for us to do something.
My oldest daughter went to school with Josh. She knew he could help me and guide us to Transformations. Josh and I talked for hours. I cried, he listened and consoled me. We decided intervention was best. I’m scared and terrified to take this step. I didn’t want my son to lose our trust. I didn’t want him to run away. So many things scared me. I knew I was enabling and would continue to do so. My marriage was being challenged and I was crying, not sleeping, waiting on the steps for his car to pull in – praying that he made it home without hurting himself or someone else. I prayed, I prayed a lot.
My husband and I met Kevin at Panera. We talked for hours as we had so many questions. He helped us understand that something needed to be done. All the signs and symptoms were there and he was on a definite path of destruction. Kevin assured us that he was available all along the way. While my inner-self was skeptical, I had to let go. He allowed me to let go and be aware of the resources and support we would get as a family.
Then it happens, the pivotal moment in our life…
One night, my son got into a fight with his girlfriend and locked himself in his bathroom. This was the night I didn’t turn my back, I felt strong. I sat on the other side of that bathroom door. I let him get it all out. He didn’t like himself, who he’d become, and he said he needed help. He said he needed help and wanted it?! I was there to tell him that he has it and we’ll be there all along the way to get him through. As I type this now, it is just so vivid, but I only could do this knowing that Kevin was a phone call away. He gave me/us the strength to make this happen.
The next morning, I called and coordinated a time for Kevin to come to the house. When my son finally emerged, my heart was pounding. I did not know if he’d remember our conversation or back down or leave, never to be seen again. But he stayed. He was scared. We talked for a long time, I told him Kevin would be coming by and that he needed to trust me, trust us, and trust that this will be good for him. Kevin was great! My son was scared but knew it was time; we could tell.
Kevin put me in touch with Zach who also listened and helped us along the way for there are so many logistics to make this all happen. The amount of compassion and empathy I felt is so difficult to describe, it was just there and comforting. They become closer than family because we are able to talk about the reality of the matter without judgement.
Now I cannot say that the next few days were not difficult. He so badly wanted to change his mind, but knew that this was a decision that would impact his future and get him the help he needed. On November 3rd, my 20 year old young man left my arms, got on that plane to Florida.
I visited him during family weekend. It was so wonderful to meet my son again. We talked for hours, walked the beach, and had meals together. We attended the therapy sessions together and continued to talk and clear things up, things that we never asked before but could now ask. He stayed in Florida for three months, some at Transformations and the half-way house living. He continued to receive therapy and treatments. While we expected him to stay longer, he just could not land a job that worked out for him.
He came home as a new man. He’s grown so much and is gaining confidence as he allows himself to experience life. Working a full-time job, not missing one day of work in the eight months he’s worked there. He’s taking classes in school and saving for a new vehicle.
We are so proud of him. I pray every day that he continues to be strong. But I know we can rely on the help of Kevin as he follows-up regularly and my son also gets a call from Transformations to check-in on how he’s doing.
Thank you Transformations from the bottom of my heart for giving me my son back.