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Dear Friends, 

Forty years ago yesterday, my bride to be and I met and believe and within days of meeting we were talking about our future together.  When we decided to get married, we planned it well over a year out. However, as time progressed, we just felt like we did not want to wait, and we moved up the wedding date a few times until we decided to get married in August (eight months after we met). Like most people we started to think about what we wanted in life. After careful planning and preparation, we welcomed our firstborn four years after we were married. Our plans were on track and, of course, we dreamed of many things for our family as our first son and later his younger brother came on the scene.  None of those dreams included using illicit drugs or hospitalizations or overdoses or any of the other seemingly unbelievable experiences we later endured. 
I did not realize how important a group of people would become to our health and wellbeing or how they would help shape our future and how we chose to live our lives.  PAL made a significant impact on my family and for that I am grateful.
The new year usually brings much contemplation about our past and our future. This is when many of us make resolutions with the idea of changing something we don’t like about what we’re doing or a dream we have about something we want to do.  If you are on the fence about what to focus on in 2023, here are a couple thoughts.  It is never too late to do the right thing. Defining what is right may seem difficult but I have found that if it involves something healthy (like helping yourself if you are suffering) or helping others, it is likely going to be the right thing.  If you have a loved one that is suffering from substance use disorder, consider starting a PAL meeting near you.  Not only will this help you, but it will be a tremendous blessing to those around you.  Sometimes it seems counterintuitive to do for others when you are feeling like you cannot even help yourself, but they go hand-in-hand.  My wife and I started a group and it was a couple years before either of our sons got any real help. However, we began learning new skills and healthier ways to respond and we started feeling better. Reach out to us at to learn more about the criteria for being a facilitator and how you can help.
If you are reading this and you are not dealing with this issue, you can support those who are. Everyone knows someone with this issue (even if you are not aware of it).  The stigma, shame and all the other issues around talking about and getting help for this problem persist. That is why we need your help as well.  So, as you are contemplating what to do and how to approach 2023, please consider doing something that might make a difference not only in your life but in the lives of many others. We cannot go back and do anything over again, but we can start today and work on a new end to the story.


Kim Humphrey
CEO/Executive Director
Guest Blog: I am responsible for my own happiness

Our regular counselor blogger, Josh Acevedo, is on a break so we are bringing you perspectives from a PAL Facilitator. 

I will never forget the feelings of worry and fear that consumed me during the early years of my journey with my sons. Over time, I learned from my PAL facilitator and fellow PAL members that if I allowed those feelings to consume me, it would ultimately stand in the way of finding my own happiness and peace of mind.

In all honesty, back then I didn’t care about my own happiness and peace of mind. I was willing to forfeit all of it and be “all in” with my sons. I bought into the idea that I had no right to be happy or peaceful or even physically well if they were in distress of any kind. I had stopped doing anything to take care of my own wants and needs. I didn’t exercise. My weight skyrocketed. I stopped seeing friends. To top it off, I had early onset symptoms of being postmenopausal. Sleep was elusive. I was a mess.

I had cared for my sons their entire lives. I mistakenly looked at them as “my life’s work” and had somehow failed. Now I was being asked to accept that my role was changing. I was told that their best chance of survival would be impacted by the “changes” that I made. This got my attention. At this point, I had very little hope that either of my sons would survive this disease. My husband and I agreed that we had tried everything to “help” with no success. Our efforts actually seemed to be making matters worse. We were in a good position to swing the spotlight around and take a hard look at ourselves.

As I began the process of educating myself, I learned some things that I hope you might find helpful as you embark on the new year. After all, what better time to take a look at ourselves as we start a new chapter in our own story.

It was suggested that even though my help would begin to look different, I would always be a role model and source of influence to my adult sons. I became convinced that I could play a valuable role in encouraging them to be the best version of themselves if I was willing to work on my own issues first. I didn’t want them to look at me and say, “I would never want to grow up and be miserable like mom.” I wanted to exemplify what a healthy adult looks like. I wanted them to believe the truth that I had learned. They were never responsible for my happiness. Only I could be responsible for that.

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Finding my recovery path

My husband and I have three adult children.  We’re a typical family. I was a stay-at-home mom, I volunteered at each of my children’s schools through the years, we were active in our church, we took family vacations, we cheered our children on through the years at their different events of cross country, track, water polo, swim team, tennis, lacrosse, basketball, soccer, flag football, music recitals, etc. When the time came, all three of our children went to college.
After college graduation, our oldest Charlie* went on to grad school.  Our other son, Milo*, started college and in the late fall of his sophomore year he came home since he wasn’t doing well academically and soon his drug use came to light. 
Charlie is quick witted, funny, smart, likeable and has a heart for people without homes. Milo is creative, IT savvy, likes video games and is a natural leader.
Our sons did most of their experimenting with drugs while in college, and both were arrested in the same year. 
After three weeks in jail, Charlie decided he was ready to try rehab.  He had been beaten in the showers and placed in solitary confinement.  We drove six hours and bailed him out and helped get him into structured sober living. He lived there for over a year.  Currently, he has over four years of sobriety and is going to grad school to complete what he didn’t finish the first time. 
When we saw Milo go to court, handcuffed and chained to other inmates, it all seemed like a bad dream.  When he was released from jail, he wasn’t interested in getting back into recovery. In the past, he'd been to two rehabs and two sober living homes.  Since his most recent relapse of over five years, he's lived on the streets.  While he was in jail, he told us his girlfriend was pregnant. His girlfriend wasn’t sure if she wanted to raise their baby or work with an adoption agency.  She made the decision for her baby and chose a woman through an adoption agency to adopt the baby. 
We haven’t seen Milo in over three years.  He’s been in jail a couple more times and we’ve had the police visit our home looking for him.  Occasionally I catch myself wondering when I may get a visit or call telling me that he has died of an overdose.

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Encourage the process of healing

Happy New Year! Here we are again, on the cusp of another new era – the next chapter of our lives ready to unfold with each passing day. I’d like to thank you all for being here with me on this journey - this dissection of days passed wherein I’ve mined both miserable and joyous experiences for anecdotes that I hope can be helpful for others. I want to share with you that this practice has been remarkably therapeutic for me over the years. Taking a hard look at the record isn’t always an easy task, but its benefits have far outweighed the sadness that self-reflection can sometimes carry (not to mention widespread publication of some of my worst days and tendencies). The gifts of imperfection are not to be lamented though. The dark days I’ve walked through, the storms that I never thought would pass have enlightened me to thankful, grateful, and spiritual living in a way I don’t believe I’d have embraced without them. Thank you, again, for being here with me through it and allowing me the opportunity to be of service.
On January 5, 2014 I entered a treatment program for the last time. I didn’t know it then but the journey I was embarking on would open my eyes to an entirely new design for living. All my past miserable experiences would culminate into a newfound attitude of open-mindedness, willingness, and a small shred of hope that I could be free of the disease of addiction, one day at a time. I remember distinctly how much, in those early days, it helped me for others in recovery to share with me their stories. It gave me the impression that this wasn’t necessarily an insurmountable obstacle that I’d have to overcome, but something that with effort, time and dedication, I too could experience – freedom from the chains that had bound me for so long.
That, to me, is the integral piece and lynchpin of our respective support programs – that of the ongoing members’ willingness to become vulnerable with others and share their experience (warts and all), so that the newcomers amongst us can identify in real time that they, too, can have healing despite how far down the scale they may have gone. Through our histories of pain and anguish we can qualify with similar individuals where others may have failed.
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