- Friends & Family
Submitted by: Abby Foster
Katie educated her daughter Britney about the dangers of alcohol and drugs in the same general way that most parents do. But it never occurred to her that she may needed to educate her about the dangers of prescription drugs. “She would call me to pick her up because her ride had been drinking. That was the kind of kid she was.” But, in high school Britney’s experimenting with prescription drugs with friends would ultimately lead her down the dark road of heroin addiction and the life or death struggle to find recovery. “I am so proud of my daughter Britney she struggled with her addiction for over seven years during which she experienced short periods of sobriety. Now, she has over two years.
“One of the biggest changes in our lives has been the repairing of relationships within our family.”
This is true especially with her little sister. For a very long time her sister, who is 12 years younger, looked up to Britney. They were very close but unfortunately due to Britney’s addiction that relationship faltered. Britney went from being seen as an idle to my youngest being petrified of her and not wanting to be around her at all. This may seem small and insignificant but, I remember a moment when Britney had a little over 3 months and returned home from a meeting to find my youngest and me working on a large puzzle on the kitchen table. Britney sat down and began working the puzzle alongside her sister. I stepped back and took a picture because I remember feeling so emotionally moved- my daughters were again together as family, working together, it was a small moment but it was the beginning works of the repairing of their relationship. That moment meant the world to me and to my daughters. Today they are again very close and have a strong relationship.
Deciding to sharing openly about our journey has provided hope and education about the possible dangers of the use of prescription drugs, especially with high school athletes. My first parent presentation I felt lucky to have 50 parents show. At my most recent presentation I had over 400 attend.To me, this is a good thing, but also sad because you know that most of those people have been affected in some way shape or form- someone they love or maybe they themselves are struggling and they want to learn more. It’s a time and a place where they can without personally reaching out. I know for me personally it was so difficult to reach out for help because at the time I saw it as a form of weakness to reach out for help and I felt shame. I want people to know that it is more of a sign of courage and strength to say ‘this is too big for me, I need to the support and encouragement of others.’
When I finally reached out for help and admitted to myself that I too am powerless over this disease, I became much stronger, learned how to set boundaries and learned clearly that what I had been doing was not working and now I need to work on me.
Because, I had become so addicted to saving her that I had lost myself. I emotionally lost my relationship with my husband, I lost my joy and I needed to get it back. When I began working and focusing on me, ironically that was when my daughter started getting better. When I got stronger, she got stronger.
I’ve learned over time that families too have triggers. Some of my personal triggers are: the garage door opening at 2am, hearing sirens, even the phone ringing. These were all things that had made my heart jump- is that my daughter coming home and what shape will she be in, is that siren for her, is this going to be the phone call that all parents fear? It can be easy for families to experience relapses- fall back into enabling or being strong with our boundaries. I know that I have to work on that everyday. My husband said to me one day ‘Katie, if anything were to happen to you I don’t think Britney could survive.’ He didn’t mean emotionally he was referring to me taking care of everything for her. He was right, I was robing her of learning life skills. I had to ask myself, what kind of parent am I being by not letting her fall? I needed to let her figure things out on her own. I needed to get the hell out of her recovery. I was in the way of it. By continuously trying to save her and trying to control her recovery I was getting in the way of her finding her own path to recovery.
Experiencing the addiction journey with her daughter Brittany, Katie left her 20 plus marketing career, in order to focus on family recovery. She has dedicated her life to guiding others through the overwhelming process of finding quality treatment for substance abuse, coaching families through their own recovery, and a consultant for the treatment industry.