I needed advice about my son’s drug use, but where to turn? As a physician, I have treated many families with addiction problems and there is addiction in my own family history. But I didn’t see how bad how bad my son’s addiction had become until I was crushed by it.

Josh starting using drugs at 12

My son, Josh, had been involved in drugs and the associated activity since around the age of 12. By the time he could drive there was nothing I could do to keep him in line. As his use escalated, he hid the extent of it. As a physician I am ashamed to say that I didn’t recognize the depth of his addiction. This is so common among families dealing with addiction. I just knew that nothing I did helped in any way.

Addiction took over

Josh’s addiction and life took on a persona of its own that was not responsive to the normal channels of parenthood. As the sheriff’s visits to my home became more numerous and more frequent, they knew what we as parents were attempting to accomplish. At one point they advised me that, due to Josh’s, age (under 18), I could be held legally liable for his actions (car accidents, stealing things to pawn, etc. We were planning to move.

I needed some advice from God

I had developed the habit of waiting up for Josh, hoping and praying that he would arrive home safely. Without anyone getting hurt. One night very late I was lying in the living room on the couch with the lights off. I was curled up in a fetal position, talking to myself, and sobbing hysterically. It was after midnight, close to 2AM, and I had been manning the couch all evening, waiting, waiting. Anyone who has a family member abusing substances knows the desperation of this waiting and worrying.

I Started Talking To God

“He’ll be all right. He’ll be home soon. Please God, let him be all right.” I wasn’t sure if I still believed in God, a reaction not uncommon for people when things don’t happen the way we want them to. I was imagining all the possible scenarios. My son’s death, his incarceration, accidents, hurting others, all in living color. Lately, I was saying that if the drugs didn’t kill him, the company and activities required of the drug scene would.

Did God give me advice

It was in the midst of all this praying and bargaining with God, sobbing so hard that I could barely breathe, I used a new prayer.

“Please God take me. I’ll lay down here on the floor right now. Kill me dead and in exchange give my son a good life.”I didn’t expect an answer. But suddenly the room became very calm. Out of the darkness came a male voice.  “It doesn’t work that way.”

I jumped up off the couch and then sank down again. The shock was such that I didn’t think to ask who was talking to me. I just responded, “Then please take my pain and give me peace and calmness now.”

A Soothing Rain

Instantly and immediately I felt as though someone was gently pouring warm water over me, starting at my head and covering me. I felt immediately calm and peaceful and not afraid.

The Message I Needed To Hear

Was it a message from God? I don’t know. I was desperate and I received the words that have stuck with me from that day forward. While my message from God didn’t cure Josh or give him the life I wanted for him, it was the first step to get me grounded. I needed to understand what I can and cannot do. As much as I have wanted and tried to save my son from his addiction, the message that I can’t live for Josh, or die for him either, has stayed with me.

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Gail Dudley, D.O.
For more than twenty years Gail Dudley had a busy family practice with a hospital and nursing home component. Gail also obtained a MHA (Masters of Healthcare Administration) and completed a one-year health policy fellowship. Dr. Gail has worked in quality assurance and utilization review, hospice practice, and now works full time for a company that has contracts with Medicare and Medicaid to evaluate fraud, waste and abuse in the medical world. Gail describes herself as “a child from an abused childhood who ultimately decided to get ahead in life rather than remain a victim.” She became “a classic over achiever to make up for the losses and pain that accompany an abusive childhood as the daughter of an alcoholic.” The ex wife of an alcoholic and the mother of a son who has been struggling substance use since the age of 12, Gail is deeply familiar with the family disease of addiction. She is also the mother of a high achieving daughter. Gail is delighted to add her voice to Reach Out Recovery both as a medical professional and a mother who has experienced addiction from every aspect. "As someone surrounded on all sides (personal and professional) by addiction issues, I always try to help whenever and wherever I can."

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