BREWER, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Lena Estes said her son started experimenting with drugs at the age of 11.
She said she never knew, but still carried the blame.
“I always felt it was my fault,” Estes said.
Over the course of 30 years, she said her son became an addict, failed in recovery and even ended up in prison. The burden of it all built up.
"You really don't think that anybody has the problems that you have,” she said. “I didn’t know where to go or who to see.”
Now, she has finally found hope through a new support group at the Bangor Area Recovery Network specifically for families of those facing addiction.
“It’s about healing together and walking this path together,” Karen Foley said.
Foley, a mother with a daughter in recovery and the group’s organizer, said it started when she was in the same place as Estes and could not find enough resources to help.
"Our family members are using everything. The problem is mental health. The problem is lack of services,” Foley said.
Pulling from the services she could find, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, she created the Addiction in the Family group alongside Jim LaPierre.
“The message I most want to deliver to folks is you need to take care of yourself,” LaPierre said.
The pair said the aim to create a space for open conversation, to share stories and gain understanding.
More than 80 people showed up to the group's first meeting in May to do just that.
"I'm both encouraged because we're doing something that needs doing and I'm saddened because the need is really really great,” Foley said.
For Estes, while her son still faces his own battle, she is finally able to fight her own.
“Knowledge is what’s so important, and I wish I had known more than I did,” she said.