WFMJ News Story

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio -

A McDonald native is opening up candidly about what it is like to be the parent of a heroin addict.

Robert Hobbs Jr. shares his emotional message to help other parents navigating through this epidemic in a new book.

"To Little Boy Blue- You were dressed in blue on your very first day. You were my pride and joy I was proud to say," reads Robert Hobbs Jr.

Hobbs is reading a letter to his son Jack and the dedication of his new book "Heroin: Living and Dying with an Addict You Love."

As a teenager, his son was number one on his cross country team and a hockey player but dabbled in drugs.

He became addicted to prescription pain pills after an injury and eventually turned to heroin and overdosed when he was 22.

When Hobbs learned that his son was a heroin addict, Jack agreed to go to rehab in two days. Jack overdosed the next day.

"He was dead in my arms no pulse. Blue as every shade of blue and purple you can imagine, his lips, his eyes, his face and I was just wrecked. The 911 operator is screaming at me you've got to breathe into him because he's going to die you've got to breathe into him and I was just crying too hard, I couldn't do it and I got to the point where he was dead and I was mourning the death as any father would but I was also, this is the obscene part, I was relieved because his suffering of going through this over and over again was over but also I didn't have to deal with it anymore," Hobbs described.

His son was revived with Narcan.

"The mourning of his death remained but the terror of it happening again came back and I was back in the cycle again. So now I have to be afraid of this happening again and I have to watch him suffer again through this over and over again."

It's a feeling he found most parents have and he wants to help make it OK to say that he felt this way.

So the McDonald native took to writing the book with his journey and where to turn for help. It is already a bestseller on Amazon.

"I wrote it so that parents would never be in a situation I was in where there were no answers, where I had to Google and get ad sponsored responses to find a rehab or to just to know what to do, I didn't know what to do."

Trinity Hobbs, his niece and a freshman at McDonald High School, did the illustrations. She was inspired by the Harry Chapin song "The Cat's In The Cradle" which is included in the dedication of the book referencing the "Little Boy Blue."

As for his son now, "he is active (using drugs), he is in trade school and I think he is living in his car."

Hobbs learned from Al-Anon that he has to set a boundary.

"I've struggled with PTSD because I found my son dead, I'm in constant fear because of his potential to relapse and OD again so that's an anxiety issue and my regret about everything I did and didn't do as a father resulted in depression."

"So I could continue to live in that cycle with him and try to take parts of it away from him onto myself which would only lead to further demise for me and I made the choice like Al-Anon recommends of putting up boundary and I put up a boundary and said listen until you're at step 9 in a program that you're actively working I can't have you in my life because now my life depends on you recovering and now he has a choice to make. He can choose to be in my life, that means he has to be in a recovery program or he can choose to not but I can't control anymore or try to control anymore what he does."

Hobbs ended the dedication of the book with "Come home, Little Boy Blue, I'm waiting. Love, Dad"

His number one message to parents is "you've got to learn everything you can as soon as you can and if you think you have a kid on heroin you got to act right now, you cannot wait, because if you wait even one day you can be walking in the bathroom to a blue child. You can't bring them back."

His mission to help others expands past this book. As a professional life coach in metro-Atlanta, this former software company executive helps parents and loved ones dealing with addicted family members.