Kyle Alberty got good grades in high school, stayed away from alcohol and was, simply put, a perfectionist. So parents Luanne and Kent Alberty never expected their son to struggle with addiction.
"Things that happened in the dorm, being caught with beer in his room and those kinds of things; his father and I would make a little trip and talk to them there and talk to him," Luanne said.
Early on, their son, Kyle, wasn't ready to admit he had a problem.
"The thing that was hard for us was to watch him spiral downwards, his grades were getting worse, his attendance in class was more and more sporadic. We could see that something was going on but we didn't know what it was," Kent said.
"And that was when he one night got picked up for DUI. And it was at that point that we decided that we needed to step in. And he called to tell us and his father said, 'you need to come home now and we need to figure out what's going on with you,'" Luanne said.
No matter how much they wanted to help, the Albertys knew they couldn't do it on their own.
"We can't relate to him like that. I mean we can be support for each other but to be support for him that's not, because we don't know the addiction. So he needs someone who has been there and done that," Luanne said.
They turned to some outside help.
"The process was we took him to a counselor and she talked him through it. And he called us from that counseling session and said, 'I would like for you guys to come in so we can talk.' And so we did and he said, 'I would like to check myself into a treatment center,'" Luanne said.
Even with a counselor's help, Luanne and Kent say they had a hard time fully understanding their son's situation and they couldn't help him reach his goals until they accepted his addiction as a medical condition.
"It is a disease just like diabetes is, just like anything else that you take medication for or you have to over come," Luanne said.
"It's not as easy as you just change your behavior, you just put that beer down and you don't have another one. It isn't a behavior change. It's you have to learn to live with your disease," Kent said.
When they accepted the disease for what it was, the Albertys could finally give their son what he needed, tough love.
"It was very clearly, as we describe it, the summer from Hell. It was the tough love thing. He paid us rent. He had a time frame that he could stay here for so long and then he had to go back out and get out on his own," Kent said.
While it wasn't easy, it was exactly what Kyle needed.
"He chose to go get an apartment, to re-enroll in college here in Sioux Falls at the University Center and started working to rebuild his life and to deal with his disease," Kent said.
While Kyle is now five-and-a-half years sober and living the life his parents always wanted for him, the road to recovery was not easy. But the family's love for one another helped them through it.
"It was terrible, difficult struggle. But there were four of us in the family and we all had to stay together somehow. It's like we have always done, you work through it together," Kent said.
Kyle is now doing well, living and working on his own. His parents say he still attends Alcoholics Anonymous and meetings. And because sponsors have helped him so much throughout his journey, he has now become a sponsor himself.
You can find out how other people are getting the help they need by watching a Prime Time KELOLAND News Special Report Monday night. We sit down with people from all walks of life who've overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol and are now living lives that are more fulfilling than they ever imagined. Join us as we "Face It Together," Monday at 7 p.m. CDT on KELO-TV.