I Thought I Knew Everything

The crushing pain of watching our son spiral downward in his alcoholism and addiction became too much to endure. My wife and I had done all we could—detox, rehab, counseling, psychiatric care, new schools, new cars, yet the cycle of recovery and relapse continued.

The situation deteriorated to the point that I feared for his life. I thought I knew everything because I was a licensed physician. I administered narcotics and sedatives every day. Despite all the academic degrees, specialty certifications and licenses I possessed, I was an abject failure. I could resuscitate overdose victims, but I could not save my boy.

In desperation, I found my way to Al‑Anon on a late summer day. The parking lot’s sticky asphalt tugged at my shoes. My inner voice said, Don’t go in there; you don’t need this. You’re a grown man, a husband, a father and a doctor. You might meet someone you know—your reputation will be shot.

But I continued on to the meeting, the beginning of what would become a lifelong journey of self-discovery. I was met by a gentle lady who said, “We’ve all been through what you are going through.” Others said, “You’re in the right place,” and “You can find serenity here.” I didn’t believe them.

But I kept coming back, even after our beloved son was claimed by this hideous disease. As I approach my 70th birthday, I still come back twice a week to be strengthened by stories of trial and growth and of new insights, stories of learning new ways of living, even in the face of a loved one’s continued drinking and using. I “Keep Coming Back” because I can hold out a hand to those who still suffer, those who cross sticky parking lots or trudge through snow and ice as desperate for help as I was.

I “Keep Coming Back” because what I’ve learned here has helped me become a grateful, even joyful man. Today I am a man at peace, rather than the man consumed with rage and resentment I would have been without the help of Al‑Anon.

By Don B., Ohio

The Forum, February 2018

2018-02-02T14:49:42+00:00January 31, 2018|Categories: Alcoholic Child, The Forum|


  1. Steve C. October 2018 at 11:35 am

    Working dentist, father, 26 year recovering alcoholic/addict here, and a miserable failure currently with my 17 year old daughter. She has too many issues to list, but she is the second child from my first marriage who’s addiction and behavior is tearing my 2nd marriage apart. My wife has a severe allergy to nicotine and my daughter is basically killing her. I am at my wit’s end…I want to kick her out to the curb, but I cannot. She has now dropped out of high school and sleeps, eats our food and gets high. She has the delusion that she has it all figured out. I had hope as she attended AA meetings with me for a few weeks, but it was all just a ruse…

  2. liz September 2018 at 1:29 pm

    My 24 year old son is an alcoholic and he knows he needs help but refuses to get treatment. He was living with my husband and I but we couldn’t deal with his attitude and disruptive behavior. it was tearing my family apart. He has two kids, 2 year old girl and a one month old boy. it seemed to get worse when my grandson was born. I just want to know if I did the right thing by kicking him out of the house. I have been through so much with him and had programs for him, ready to go but refused to go.

  3. ZEB September 2018 at 12:38 am

    Thank you for sharing this story. You have no idea how helpful it has been for me reading your story, your struggle and knowing almost the exactly same path you were going through. I really appreciated.

  4. Pam C. August 2018 at 7:29 am

    My husband was an alcoholic and my children and I had to suffer his moods, vomiting, tempers etc for years. He always said it was my fault he drank and belittled and verbally abused me daily. When my three eldest had grown up and got their own homes I was finally able to get away (Impossible to get out with five children to support and no money).

    Now my younger son who still lives with me is alcoholic and I am an OAP and disabled with arthritis. He is at the stage of spending the day lying on the settee with his gin bottle behind a cushion. He smells from sleeping in his clothes and not showering, and has started having his alcohol delivered by the local supermarket. I am ashamed and disgusted, depressed and at my wits end. He managed to stay clean recently for more than six months and it was wonderful – I felt I had my wonderful son back. He was helping me in the house, and trying to find a job, but now has sunk back into this dreadful state. He does nothing to help me, not even taking the rubbish out, and contributes nothing financially.

    He’s my son and I love him – people tell me to throw him out but how can I? He’ll end up on the streets and I cannot do it. I want to help him but he won’t talk about it to me or to anyone else, he just gets angry.

  5. Helen July 2018 at 11:20 am

    I have been in Al-Anon for over 3 years. My son was on the streets in February. He asked for help to quit his alcohol and gambling addiction. We funded a rehab in the UK. He had been 21 weeks sober and getting his life back on track. He relapsed two days ago. He has been evicted from the Probation House and is now back on the streets. I tried not to get my hopes up too much. My son saw a few people relapse and the devastating effect it had on them. To choose this path again is suicidal. I am trying to cope.

  6. E. July 2018 at 9:57 pm

    My twin brother and I are fifteen.
    My family recently found out that he has been abusing drugs to deal with his depression. He is addicted to alcohol and he has routinely abused other drugs including LSD, mushrooms, and other more serious drugs. He and his best friend, who have known each other for over a decade, apparently began smoking weed and drinking alcohol at the same time. They did this for about a year and also got into other drugs during that time. His best friend went through rehab and is now (allegedly) sober and my brother believes he is alone. He says no one is here for him. It’s like he looks around and ignores the fact that my parents and I are here for him. He can’t see us standing around him. I don’t know how to talk to him anymore. I don’t know how to talk to my parents. I now hide my feelings of depression and anxiety from my family to make sure that they think I’m alright so they can focus on getting my brother the help that he needs. I can’t talk to my friends because my dad would be embarrassed if my friends’ parents found out that he has an alcoholic fifteen-year-old son. I feel like there’s no way to rid my brother of his alcoholism because he is ridden with anxiety and can’t find any motivation to live a good life, or even keep living. Most of his friends do drugs, too, so he doesn’t know how to get away from the substances he abuses. I feel like a bad sister for not noticing his problems before and for not knowing how to act or what to say now. I don’t know what to do. I feel completely alone, but it seems wrong to still feel depressed while my brother is going through such an awful time.

  7. Stacy June 2018 at 3:58 pm

    My 27 year old son is addicted to heroin. He has overdosed 4 times this year and it’s only June. I need some help. This is killing me.

  8. Katie May 2018 at 7:59 pm

    I, also, am a retired medical professional. My father was an alcoholic/addict, and so is my son. My son is also addicted to money, shopping, sex, pornography…and he is physically ill as well as mentally ill. Our family has been ripped apart by all of the “help” our son needs every day, in order to just get by. Our family has suffered immeasurably, and we are no longer in a position to help him out. When he does not get what he needs/wants he “punishes” us by not showing up at family gatherings, by not calling, by “disappearing” until he needs something, and then it becomes an emergency. I cannot sleep at night, I feel sick with worry, constantly. I have come to realize I cannot save him, but I know I need to save myself…I just cannot do this anymore.

  9. Michelle February 2018 at 5:47 am

    my 19 year old just got in his 3rd accident in a year and taken to jail last nite. I don’t know how to find a group. I read your posts and want support but am afraid to get it if it means I have to separate from him and leave him alone…which only shows all the more that I need help. He goes to court this morning, 10 hours away. Now no car, knowing no one in a state he doesn’t know without me. I don’t know what the right this is for me to do. I feel alone

  10. Star of the North February 2018 at 8:59 am

    I am an alcohol and drug counselor who seeks recovery in my family and daily life. I have witnessed sobriety and contentment in my life with my loved ones in sobriety. I have been a member of Al-Anon for over 20 years and I see miracles every day of my life. The program like any other works if you work it. I also am a adult child of an alcoholic family and have lived in this disease of alcoholism all my life growing up as well. I call myself a survivor of this disease. I may not follow my program perfectly but I always have the family of Al-Anon around me for support and love when I need it most. I challenge everyone today to reach out to your loved ones who are suffering from this disease of addiction and tell them that you love them and that they are a loving child of God and that you are proud of who they are today, weather they are sober or not. Take a risk and reach out.

  11. Fred February 2018 at 3:05 pm

    how to talk to a 27 year old recovering (2years sober) granddaughter about attending meetings.

  12. Eleni February 2018 at 11:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing.

  13. Ellen C February 2018 at 7:10 pm

    I too am a medical professional. I taught a drug and alcohol program where I worked. I have suffered the loss of my husband and my son. My youngest son is an alcoholic. I didn’t realize it until my husband died. Then my son died and my youngest went out of control. He has been in rehab and one detox program. I talk to him everyday, but he doesn’t have a relationship with his sisters. I don’t know if he is drinking now. He seems ok when I speak to him. I am worried about him but realize only he can fix this.

  14. Tamara February 2018 at 9:13 am

    My husband and I are parents of a son that is an addict. My heart goes out to you as I have spent many sleepless nights and felt the terror of not knowing how to help our son. Although I still consider myself a newbie at Al-Anon, I have received so much comfort and companionship in our common bond at meetings. I strongly encourage you to find an Al-Anon Parent’s meeting in your area. You can’t fix your child’s addiction, but you must take care of yourself. We can feel so alone but Al-Anon brings hope and light back into our lives, regardless of what is going on with our child. I share in your pain and hope and pray for healing for your son and for you.

  15. Dawn February 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I can relate to both the post and the comment. I am a nurse and my 24 year old son is addicted to alcohol. He thinks he can quit on his own! (How many addicts think the same thing?). The worst part for me is that he lives 2 hours away.

  16. Max D. January 2018 at 3:02 pm

    I have a similar situation. I am also a retired medical professional. I help so many of my patients with solid counseling advice. And those that were habitual abusers I learned to turn away. But, this is my own son with drugs and alcohol problems. And I feels so helpless! So, confused I could cry.

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