During Eric’s sophomore year in high school Eric started to experiment with alcohol. In his late teens Eric often was brought home by friends, or I was called due to his being in a blackout condition. I recognized that he had the disease of alcoholism. Eric was also involved with skiing, and loved the outdoors, but his problems with alcohol continued. At age 21, Eric was asked to leave our house, leave his keys to his car, and asked to return when ready to except help for his alcoholism. Eric was ready the next day, and went to rehab at High Watch in Kent, CT. While in treatment Eric called and requested to stay an extra week. We used our savings, and family members helped with the cost.
I will never forget the day he was leaving. I arrived and was sitting on a bench, the sun came out, was warming, and the setting was beautiful. I heard singing coming from a meeting house- “Beautiful Day” by U2. I felt tears whelming as I listened. My son came out from the meeting house, shaking hands, and hugging others that he had spent the last 30 days with. I had never been prouder. He was so motivated for a sober lifestyle. Our conversation driving home was about him attending a sober house, which was recommended, and Eric felt this was needed, I agreed. We visited one near to our town, due to none being in Branford. It consisted of living in an attic, offering small cubby areas, divided by blankets, with 9 other men. Food was not included, and rides were not given to attend 12 Step Meetings, it was expensive, and called peer to peer. When I asked what therapeutic activities were offered, I was told a curfew. Eric and I looked at each other and left. We both agreed it wasn’t a healthy situation, a fire trap, and expensive.
I believe that this is when I lost my son to the disease of alcoholism. Slowly he began to drink again. Eric started working in the winter in Vail, CO. He worked with his dad in the summer as a carpenter. He ran 5 miles a day, worked out daily at the gym, and watched what he ate. I didn’t know the extent of Eric’s drinking, or the use of other substances he was using, until his death, at the age of 24, on March 28, 2013.My family and I required time to heal. When I finally was able to except that not all my questions as to why would be answered, and even if I did, this would not bring my son back, was I able to move forward. I found it difficult to work in my field, and not share my experience, strength, and hope with others. In order to try to prevent other families from suffering the pain and grief that we do, I decided to apply my vision, passion, and determination to create a Recovery Friendly Community, to give them a chance, break the stigma, and judgement, that I couldn’t find for my son