Tough Love: A Son’s Story of Sobriety

This National Recovery Month, we wanted to bring you stories from Recovery Team alumni who are clean and sober, truly taking advantage of everything recovery has to offer them. We spoke with Cheaney and knew that his story would be perfect to be published on National Son’s Day, September 28, 2020.

Cheaney was born and raised in Indiana, living out a seemingly picture perfect Middle American childhood with his parents and two brothers. At the age of seven, his parents divorced, filling him with resentments and heavy emotional burdens. As he bounced back and forth between their two homes, he struggled even further to cope with the divorce and tried drugs just two years later.

Mini-golfing as a family.

The party got out of hand and Cheaney found himself using hard drugs by early high school. When his parents caught on to what was happening, they confronted him and pleaded to get their son back. Out of spite and wanting to use freely, without judgment, 16 year old Cheaney moved into an apartment with his older brother. He did listen to his parents though and cut out the harder substances but continued to smoke weed and drink alcohol. His parents felt relieved that he was no longer touching narcotics but that relief lead them to continue enabling him, especially dad.

With dad as a baby.

Around 20 years old, Cheaney had fallen back into hard drugs. His dad lived in denial during this time, enabling him and remaining a friendly constant in his life. His mom, however, saw his addiction unfolding and took matters into her own hands, sending him to rehab for the first time and allowing him to move in with her after. He relapsed fairly quickly after his return and his mom made the difficult but necessary decision to stop enabling her son, kicking him out and no longer allowing him to visit her home, telling him, “I won’t be here for you until you’re ready to get clean.”

With mom as a toddler.

Although Cheaney had very limited physical contact with his parents at that point, they both remained in touch with him. Their son was flirting with death each and every day and they needed to know if he was still alive. Although, yes, he was still alive, he was barely living, hitting bottom after bottom until finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. He had ended up in South Florida, living out of motel rooms or on the streets. Cheaney said, “I was helpless and hopeless. It was really hard and scary for me to not know whether I’d have a meal or room that night.”

Cheaney in active addiction.

The day after Christmas, December 26, 2019, Cheaney admitted himself into The Haven Detox. He called his mom and dad and let them know he was finally safe. Because Cheaney’s parents had communicated with him throughout his relapses and times of active addiction, they could hear it in his voice that things were going to be different this time – and they were right.

Cheaney’s intake photo – broken and miserable, but ready for help.

Cheaney completed the program at Recovery Team and is now over nine months clean and sober. His relationships with his mom and dad have changed immensely. He and his father have broken a lot of the codependent bonds they had and are able to have conversations that are no longer centered around Cheaney asking him for money or favors. Today, Cheaney is able to help his dad and even give him advice rooted in what he’s learned in therapy since getting sober.

His mom flies down to Florida from Indiana every few months to visit him. They’re closer than ever and text every single day, just catching up on each other’s lives. Recently, Cheaney needed some financial support and his mother trusted him enough to send him money and know that he would use it responsibly – she wouldn’t even give him $2.00 when he was using because she refused to contribute to an overdose.

Cheaney and his mom during one of her visits to Florida.

Cheaney believes that the best part about being a son now that he’s sober is that he’s no longer causing his parents severe depression and anxiety. They can actually have their own lives and live in peace these days. He’s happy they can sleep at night and not have to worry or stress over him.

To any sons who may have strained relationships with their parents because of their addiction or alcoholism, Cheaney wants to let them know that showing tough love is just as hard on your parents as it is on you. “Once you start bettering and working on yourself, things will start to work out. Your relationships with your family can get better. If you do bad sh*t, bad sh*t happens. If you do good sh*t, good sh*t happens.”

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, help is always available. Call us today to begin a new, sober life and rebuild those relationships. (800) 817-1247

Cheaney now, happy, joyous, and free!