"T here’s someone on the phone for you,” my son Naftali told my wife one fine day. Naftali was 23, and had recently returned from yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael. He had never been a top student, but after returning home, he had become increasingly passive and listless. First, he stopped attending yeshivah. Then he took a job, but was fired for poor performance. He seemed stuck. Aimless.

The man on the phone told my wife, Gitty, that he was the manager of a frum drug rehabilitation center in a different state, and he began describing his facility and its programs.

Gitty was confused. “What does this have to do with me?” she asked.

“Uh, maybe you should have a talk with your son,” he responded.

That phone call changed our life forever.

In our wildest dreams, we would never have imagined that our son would be addicted to heroin. We are a respected frum family, with sons and sons-in-law who are bnei Torah and daughters who are fine Bais Yaakov girls and kollel wives. How in the world could this have happened in our family? Where did we go wrong?

Apparently, Naftali’s friend had introduced him to heroin, and unbeknown to us, he had quickly become addicted, supporting his habit by using up his savings, then cashing in an insurance policy he had. He probably stole from us, too. As typical frum parents who knew nothing about heroin addiction, we were utterly clueless about his problem — until that fateful phone call.

Fortunately, Naftali wanted to get himself into rehab, so when he noticed an advertisement for this rehab center, he had called up to find out more about it. Not knowing how to tell us that he needed rehab, he had simply handed the phone to Gitty after speaking briefly to the manager.

Dazed and stunned, we sent him to the rehab center and paid the bill out of our savings. Four months into his stay, he called to tell us that he was in the hospital. He had developed an infection from the unsterilized needles he had used previously, and his liver enzyme levels were sky-high. “I’m not coming out alive,” he predicted.

Gitty jumped on a flight and went to join him in the hospital, while I stayed home with the younger kids. She stayed with him for a few days until he was released from the hospital, and then she brought him home.

He walked into our house looking like a ghost. His hair was dyed some strange color, and he could barely stand.

The next morning, when I went upstairs to his room to check on him, I found him sprawled out on a chair, unconscious. His head was hanging backward, his mouth was open, and he wasn’t breathing.

I called Hatzolah. “My son is having some sort of drug reaction,” I cried. “I’m not sure if he’s alive!”

Hatzolah arrived within three minutes and administered a shot of Narcan, which blocks the effects of opioids like heroin in the body. They also opened Naftali’s airway by simply moving his tongue, which was blocking his windpipe.

They managed to resuscitate him in the nick of time. Had they come a minute or two later, it would have been too late.

Naftali was in the hospital for a few days, after which we signed him into a kosher halfway house and then into an outpatient day program. As part of that program, Naftali was placed on suboxone, a legal narcotic that helps relieve symptoms of heroin withdrawal, without producing a high. Unfortunately, suboxone is addictive and hard to detox from, and we didn’t see it as a real solution. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 675)