Mom: All You Need To Do Is Say I Want Help
Long after the cameras stopped recording for the Showtime docuseries The Trade, the real-life drama continues for Jenny Walton and her family. In early June 2018, both her sons were in recovery for substance abuse, though she wasn’t sure how long that would last. But she has hope.
Sons’ Addiction Affects Entire Family
The Walton family began struggling with addiction in 2010. Her sons started with marijuana and quickly progressed to painkillers. When opioids became too expensive, they graduated to IV heroin use a year or two later. They’ve been defendants in Cobb County Juvenile Drug Court.
Avery is 25 now and Skyler’s 26.
“Opioids and heroin has just nearly destroyed the family. It has broken the family,” Jenny Walton said. “There’s just no description for it. It is an equal opportunity destroyer.”
Jenny said it’s odd to say someone wants recovery, “because I don’t think that anyone wants to live an active addiction. It’s a horrendous lifestyle.”
Mom Relies on Faith
“I claim to be in recovery myself from trying to fix my children,” Walton said. “I’m trying to learn how to let go and let God [be in charge].”
That’s so much easier said than done, she said, and it’s a constant struggle. “But I work on it every day.”
She could report that both of her sons were in recovery as of June 1. Avery was in a 12-step program in south Georgia. Skyler just entered the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation and recovery program. She hopes he stays, but it’s up to him.
“It is in God’s hands no matter how much I want to try to fix and help and work through it with him. I’m still on my own journey,” Jenny said.
“I honestly believe my belief in my higher power and my God is what got me through,” she said. “I know my husband didn’t have the same journey I did. But we got through it together and we’re still going through it together.”
With Every Journey Different, Learn to Keep an Open Mind
Jenny said she was like a sponge getting advice. But she wasn’t ready to take most of it because she thought other people didn’t know her situation or understand what she’s going through. She’s careful to dish out advice now that she knows everyone is on a different journey.
“But if I had to give advice, I’d say keep an open mind because there are many pathways to recovery,” she said.
She said they kicked both sons out of the house in the past. Her husband told her they couldn’t continue the dramatic lifestyle. She issued an ultimatum, telling her sons they’d evict them unless they got into some type of recovery.
When they came home and said they were going to the methadone clinic it was not OK with her at first. She had to realize this pathway to recovery worked for them, so she had to accept it. And it did work for a time.
She tells parents to go through their journey with their children without judgment, keeping an open mind. Accept any recovery and you’ll make it through the hard times.
Hope Essential for Parents, Children
She wants parents to know that recovery is possible. “Don’t ever give up hope.”
Recovery is an uphill battle. Taking the next step toward recovery is scary, but recovery is possible.
“Today I’m excited because Skyler went into recovery,” Jenny said.
She wouldn’t be surprised, however, if her son left recovery after one day. But she’s hopeful.
Get Well, Stay That Way with Places Like Vision Warriors
When her son Skyler first came out of a 30-day treatment program she thought everything was fixed for good. She learned the hard way that’s not how recovery works.
You get sober in formal treatment environments, Jenny said. But she thinks you get well in communities. You stay well in communities that embrace recovery.
You need to find folks that have been through the trenches going through the same journeys to identify with them. That’s where you’ll gain the support and connections you need.
“I think that connection is the opposite of addiction. And I think that folks need that connection and that strong support especially in early recovery,” Jenny said.
Everyone takes their individual journey and path to sobriety. She thinks you can get sober in detox, a formalized treatment center and in 30-day treatment programs. But she doesn’t think you will be as successful staying well without a lifetime commitment.
When they get 30-90 days of recovery under their belt they can start thinking, she said. That’s when what Jenny calls the fog clears and only now can they start learning how to be successful in life.
“That’s where places like Vision Warriors and a handful of other sober living environments that are amazing come into play. They help folks stay sober they help folks very well because it’s a long-term commitment.”
Folks like Vision Warriors will take adults in and help them without judgment, shame or guilt. “They’ll take them in and they’ll help them. It’s possible,” Jenny said.
You must want the help and then make the commitment. It starts with asking for help.
“And there are so many folks out there, Vision Warriors being one of my favorites, that will extend their hand and say, ‘come on we’re going to do this.’ And that’s all it takes.”
Drug, Alcohol Abusers Need Life Skills to Recover
Opioid users’ mental growth stalls when you’re focused on drugs. Kids who start using at 13 to 16 don’t have a lot of life skills built up. Schools don’t teach skills such as how to open a bank account, change a tire or change your car’s oil.
“And early in recovery these folks are trying to breathe and not use drugs. That’s the that’s the biggest focus,” she said.
Wide Array of Recovery Resources Available
Parents or their children don’t have to spend $20,000 to get help. Free and low-cost help and resources are out there.
She’s heard so many excuses from her sons for why one program or plan wouldn’t work. Her kids have at times said “I’m not on the God thing this week” and “don’t shove religion in my face” in response to AA meetings.
Resources include medically assisted recovery, 12-step programs such as Celebrate Recovery, abstinence-based programs and harm reduction programs.
Any hospital will help opioid users, she said. Jenny’s been to Northside Hospital’s ER in Cherokee County with both of her sons. Skyler overdosed in her house many times, requiring an ambulance. First responders carry Narcan, and it’s available at places like The Zone.
“There is a way to get recovery. It is possible. It’s out there. All you need to do is say I want help,” she said.