When Mike’s son first began using drugs and alcohol, he was only 13 years old. By the age of 18, his drug use escalated to heroin.
“I absolutely had the belief that drug addiction happens to someone else or somebody else’s family,” Mike said. “I never expected that to happen to my child.” For nearly eight years, his heroin addiction consumed him. His son overdosed three times and attended multiple rehabilitation programs, but each time he relapsed. His son knew at least 10 others who died of drug overdoses, and his father worried that he was headed toward a similar fate.
“It’s tough to describe as a parent the way you feel when you see your son looking gaunt, skinny,” Mike said. “You just are all the more sure that he’s going to die when you see that. It’s hard. It’s really hard.”
When his son’s drug use landed him in legal trouble, he received a court order to attend Wilson Hall, an inpatient treatment program for men operated by Quest Recovery (now CommQuest Services) located in Massillon, Ohio.
Although his son did not enter the program willingly, that didn’t matter to the team at CommQuest. They saw him for who he was — a person whose life mattered. During his stay, he attended daily AA meetings, counseling and group therapy sessions. Every day, he fought for his sobriety, and with the help of the staff at Wilson Hall, he received the guidance and support he needed to live a substance-free life.
Today, Mike’s son has maintained his sobriety for more than seven years. He leads a productive life, surrounded by a network of family and friends who support his journey. “I hope that those who listen to my story, especially other parents, realize that they’re not alone,” said Mike. “There are so many people out there addicted to drugs, and they have a disease. It’s not a moral failing. There is an answer to it. There are great treatment programs like this one through CommQuest that’s supported by United Way. With the right help, these people can recover, and they can live.”
Mike’s story is a familiar one in our community. Stark County continues to face a widespread addiction epidemic. According to The Stark County Health Department, 409 fatal overdose incidents occurred within Stark County from 2012 to 2017. CommQuest Services plays a key role through prevention and treatment in stemming the crisis and relies on funding from United Way of Greater Stark County.