The Beginning

Brittany and KatieWe were that “normal” family. Husband, wife, 2 kids and a dog. Upper middle class, my husband worked in IT and I was a marketing professional. We both worked very hard to provide everything we could for our family. We were super involved parents, my husband coaching our oldest Brittany’s basketball team and I taught her catechism class when she made her 1st Communion. I was the Brownie leader, the carpool mom, the head of the PTO. We encouraged our kids to have friends over for playdates, sleepovers, swimming in the pool. We went on family vacations, day trips and always very active together. Family time was very important to us, especially Family Night. With our busy schedules, in between running one child to dance class, the other to softball, and my husband and I also played softball, it was important to us to have one night where we just focused on us. No TV, no phones…we played board games, went to the park, rode bikes, it didn’t really matter what we did, just that we did it together.

Growing up, my oldest Brittany, was smart as a whip. Honors student, things came so easy to her. She barely had to study, grades were never a problem. She grew up trying everything…dance class, baton, cheer, basketball, softball. She made friends very easily, having this spirited outgoing personality, with a warm, gentle heart for the elderly and those less fortunate. She was involved in the DARE program, worked at our city’s parks and recreation department, she babysat and loved Friday night football games in high school. I remember once when she was 16, she was invited to Prom by a senior. We let her stay out a little longer than her normal curfew…but she ended up calling me early, saying “Hey mom, can you come and pick me up? My ride has been drinking and I don’t feel safe”. WHOA! Well, of course I will!

A year later, when she was 17, we got her a Dakota truck for her birthday. She didn’t get her license at the age of 16 like most…we waited until she was 17 to make sure she was truly ready for the responsibility. She loved that truck so much…. but with the truck, came a lot of independence and freedom.

About 8 months after she got that Dakota, I received a call about 10am from the local hospital. “Mrs. Donovan, your daughter has been in an accident.” What? It didn’t register with me. My brain was not processing what she was saying. I didn’t understand…she’s supposed to be in school right now!

I rushed to the hospital and when I arrived, I found her screaming, thrashing, with 5 people trying to hold her down on the gurney. What is going on with my daughter? I felt such fear, panic, my eyes stinging with tears. The doctor told me she flipped her truck and has a very high amount of Xanax in her system. WHAT! Xanax? My mind whirling with all kinds of thoughts and confusion, as they strapped her down. Little did I know what the next 7 years would bring….


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  1. Christine March 29, 2016 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Thankyou for sharing your journey. I’m sure others could relate, as I could lots. I will be in touch. Thanks once again. Your stories give me strength and hope for my roller coaster ride throughout life…
    The main message, WE ARE NOT ALONE XOXOXX

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:43 am - Reply

      Christine, you are right!! We are not alone! We must stick together, find comfort and solace in one another, and continue to support, uplift and pray. Please feel free to message me at any time, I would love to connect. xoxo

  2. Jessica March 29, 2016 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this. I’m a women’s drug counselor in NJ and addiction does not discriminate. It’s a lifelong battle. You and your family are in my prayers.

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Jessica, thank you for all that you do!! We need more “Jessica’s” in this world!

  3. Inspirations By Grace March 29, 2016 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    I have just read your first post. Your Brittany sounds much like my son. Loved by all and hiding a very dark secret. Our families also sound familiar. His dad and I were involved in every activity and family was the most important. We are three years into this roller coaster. He is 21. Some days are better than others. The bad days I now coin as “grace” days. Because it’s only by God’s grace that I keep moving.

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Hannah, what a beautiful way to describe the good days. Its so true. We are grateful for each “good” day that can bring us some peace, or that is drama free. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time to talk…I am always here. xoxo

      • Inspirations By Grace April 4, 2016 at 10:23 pm - Reply

        Thank you Katie, this week has once again brought “news” that has me broken. I will take you up on the offer. Any advice on bringing my son back into the light is welcome.

        • Katie April 5, 2016 at 12:46 pm - Reply

          Oh honey, I’m going to email you right now.

  4. Lisa Van Skaik March 30, 2016 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Hello – I just came across your blog thru an online support group, “Rockstar Recovery”. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your journey with others. I can echo your story and agree with the other comments. Upper middle class family, 3 boys, involved Christian parents etc. never in my wildest nightmare would I have dreamed we would be on this journey. We are a it farther along, our son is now 31 and has been an addict for approx. 10 years. He lived with us for most of that time and we tried just about everything to help him and spent thousands of dollars until we could no longer live with that stress. He is currently 6 months clean from heroin. His Dad and I have come a long way in how we handle things now, have gained strength thru God and have learned we can not help or control his decision to remain drug free. I will continue to follow your blogs and thanks again for confirming what I know to be true….this can happen to any family, there is no shame or guilt and we are not alone!! God bless.

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:28 am - Reply

      Lisa, I just replied to your other comment! I am so grateful for your support! You sound like amazing parents, who are supportive and have done everything in your power to help your son. I pray he continues working on his recovery. It does take a long time to come to a point where we realize no matter what we try to do, we cannot control the situation, the addict or their future. We can only continue to love, support, guide, while working on ourselves. Hugs to you

  5. Margie April 7, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    are not alone I as a mother have been dealing with this for 13 years. My oldest is now 11 months clean and my youngest just got locked up again. I hate to say it but it gives me some relief knowing where he’s at. Prayers to your family and to mine. I no longer have a problem talking about it. I feel everyone out there these days has a family member or friend on something. It needs to be talked about and not swept under the rug even if can save one life let’s talk about it.

  6. Laurie Watter April 13, 2016 at 8:17 am - Reply

    Your story is mine- the threads may be different but the tapestry is the same. I thought I was doing all the right things to give our children the best chance at being happy, successful adults. It has been a rough road but, for today, things are looking wonderful. I remember to stay in this very moment; a lesson on work on constantly. It has also been incredibly helpful to give up the picture in my head of the way I thought things were supposed to be, and focus on what is. This journey, though painful, has been a blessing. Thanks for sharing your story. I am always available to offer support to other parents along this path.

  7. Niki April 13, 2016 at 8:56 am - Reply

    This k you for sharing

  8. Rosemary Amor April 13, 2016 at 11:59 am - Reply

    Your story sounds a lot like ours. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Brittany Hicks April 13, 2016 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing it is so important for people to understand they are not alone. Please check out Paiges PROMISE 2015 on facebook. My sister passed away just over a year ago to an overdose. My hearbreaks for you and any other family that has lived this awful nightmare. This non-profit was started to help others starts with prescription and leads to heroin and I understand what you mean about a normal family and one day it can be turned completely upside down. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Karen Stevenson April 18, 2016 at 10:25 am - Reply

    I have just come across you blog through the TAM page I am over 13 years on this roller coaster I live in Northern Ireland and it’s like a third world country compared to the US we have NO help there’s no alnon no support for families we just have to struggle on alone ???

    • Katie April 18, 2016 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Karen, I’m so sorry!!! Please feel free to message me at any time…I am always here to talk!! I would love to connect with you.

  11. Suze April 29, 2016 at 8:42 am - Reply

    My father was 81 and fell and broke his hip , he was a civil engineer , he worked outdoors everyday of his life he walked 3 miles two times a day. He always a nice and polite to my mother. During his recovery I saw him change always yelling at my mother for not doing things quick enough . And short tempered . We said to him you can’t treat Mom like that . He never allowed his six children to speak to Mom in a raised voice. he said he need a revision of his hip because of the pain . after the second surgery he developed chest pain. He died a week later from Heart failure . my brother told us he developed an addiction to pain killers and he couldn’t live that anymore. it can happen to anyone

  12. Jenni April 29, 2016 at 11:12 am - Reply

    It’s sad that there are so many of us dealing with this and yet comforting to know I’m not alone. My family was much like yours except my children grew up without their father. I discovered when my youngest was an infant that my husband was using drugs. We divorced and I did everything I could to provide a healthy, happy home for my 3 kids. They were all honor students, and very active with sports, band, dance, etc. Besides being predisposed to addition – I can pinpoint when everything changed. My oldest daughter, 6 weeks from graduation, met a boy…you know how the rest of the story goes. I’ve been dealing with addiction with all 3 of my children for 10 years now. I am happy to say that my son (24) has been clean for almost 2 years and my youngest daughter (26) has been clean for almost 1 year. My oldest daughter (28) is still in denial. I have recently adopted her daughter, my oldest granddaughter; I’ve had to learn a whole new level of “staying strong” for her sake. No matter how much time goes by it doesn’t get easier. I still get nauseated every time my phone rings and I don’t recognize the number. I still have more sleepless nights than restful continuing to pray fervently for my children and now grandchildren.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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