A mother’s journey to a happy place

Darla, DJ’s mother, worried because she was getting frantic calls throughout the night from DJ’s friends, asking how he was. After all, last time she checked, he was upstairs asleep in his bed. What she didn’t know was that he had been shot in a drug deal gone bad and was lying in his bed, wounded.

The next morning she learned the truth about what had happened. Somehow DJ was okay although a bullet had gone clear through his shoulder, missing his skull by inches. There was even evidence, by way of a bullet hole in her truck.

DJ was lucky this time, but she knew that it was only a matter of time before his luck ran out. In fact, there were times she felt so hopeless about DJ’s drug addiction that she had selected songs to be played at his funeral.

For years, it had been the same pattern. DJ would disappear for long periods of time – periods when his mother didn’t even know if he was alive or dead. Finally she got a tracking device placed on his phone so that even if he didn’t call, she could track if he was moving and where he was moving to. She figured that, if the tracking device was still working, he was still alive.

“I cried myself to sleep almost every night, and I prayed and prayed. One time I located him via the GPS a block from our house. I drove all around the neighborhood but couldn’t find him. I pulled over to a church parking lot, crying and praying at the same time. I called him and begged him to call me back. When he finally answered he said he would meet me at our house. What I didn’t know is that one of his connections lived a few blocks from the house and that is where he had been – getting drugs,” says Darla.

“From time to time, he tried to clean himself up. He would come home, stay a few days and get some sleep. But he always left again, sometimes for months.”

After he got shot, even DJ knew that it was time to do something. He had seen so many of his friends go to 30-day rehabs, only to return home and use drugs the very next day. He had told his mother through the years, “Don’t waste your money.”

However, one person DJ knew had stayed clean after drug treatment: his friend John. All DJ knew is that his friend went to a drug rehab somewhere around Atlanta, stayed for four months, came back home clean, and never used drugs again. DJ wanted to go to this place if they could find it. DJ’s mother knew John and knew that he had had a severe drug problem. “I thought that if this place could help John, as bad off as he had been, then it could certainly help my son,” she says.

Darla searched the internet to find this magical place. But the only clue she had was that it was a four-month program. She thought she had found it, packed DJ in the car, and headed for Atlanta. But once they arrived at the rehab and DJ received his intake interview, he told his mother, “This is not the right place – I know it’s not and I’m not staying here.” Determined to get the treatment that he wanted, DJ called John and put his mother on the phone. When she asked John for the name of the treatment center that had helped him so much, he started crying.

“John started crying because he was so happy that DJ was going to get help,” says Darla. “He told me the name of the place. It was Narconon. Amazingly, we were right down the road from it and we drove right there.

“DJ was responsive from the beginning. He learned how the life skills program worked. This made sense to him and he checked in. He completed the program and has been clean ever since.”

That was three years ago and a lot has changed for DJ.

He now has custody of two of his sons, ages 5 and 3, and they live with him full time. His mother reports that he is a great single dad. On top of being a single fulltime parent, he runs a successful business.

This story was submitted by Mary Rieser,
CCDC, executive director of Narconon of
Georgia, an outpatient drug treatment program

and educating facility.