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Airing a message

One Laguna Beach mother is sharing her experience with drug-addicted children, one caller at a time.

After nearly a decade of coping with her two sons’ drug and alcohol addictions, which included several revisits to the emergency room and rehab, and even one to jail, Leyla Fatima decided to launch a radio show that aims to reach out to other parents who are facing the same struggles.

“Watching our kids self-destruct is one of the most horrible, difficult things we can go through as parents,” Fatima said. “Society often places blame on us for our kids’ problems, which also makes us feel further disconnected from the world.”

As a single mother, Fatima said she did everything she could to help her sons.

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“I was a present, engaged and good mother,” she said. “This is a disease — it’s no one’s fault.”

She aims to spread this notion to listeners through her radio show, “Parenting the Addict Child,” which initially aired on cable Internet last January, and has been picked up by Intravision for national syndication starting Feb. 1, and will air from noon to 2 p.m. Sundays on KLSX 97.1 FM.

“I really want to create change so that we [as a society] come to a place where addiction is accepted and is not associated with failure or shame.

Parents should not be ashamed of their children, but should feel open to talk about it, share their stories and educate one another in order to help their children,” she said.

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Fatima encourages her listeners with words of compassion and humor, and lends advice to mostly parents of young and adult addicts based on her own experiences.

Her message to listeners is that they must redefine “love” as parents and deal with addiction as a disease.

She encourages them to support their children’s fight against these addictions while maintaining their own independence.

“It is important to laugh through it and still find pleasure in life despite our grievances,” she said. “What else can we do?”

Fatima said drug addiction and recovery is a process of two steps forward and three steps back, and is something that must be dealt with on a day-by-day basis.

“It’s a constant ebb and flow — but it helps to know we are not alone, and there is place we can go,” she said.

Fatima said the most rewarding part of her job is getting feedback from parents whose lives she’s touched and helped with her advice, and also knowing that her callers have reached other listeners out there who share similar stories.

“These parents are a gift, and they have no idea what they give me,” she said.

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