Ami and Billy Brown are missing their son, Matt Brown, as he returns to rehab for an alcohol addiction. But the Alaskan Bush People parents told PEOPLE magazine this week that they support their 36-year-old son's efforts to better himself, even if it means losing him for a little while.
"It's hard not having one of my babies here with us. He was so strong for me, and I want to be strong for him," Ami said, referencing her lung cancer diagnosis. She is currently cancer-free after beating almost impossible odds, but must undergo tests every three months for the rest of her life.
"We miss him terribly, but we'd rather lose him from home for a little while than lose him forever," dad Billy said. "We just want him to do what he needs to do to get better."
Previously, Matt announced that he was returning for his second stint in rehab.
"I struggle with substance abuse, and after a year of ups and downs, I decided to return to treatment," the eldest Brown son told PEOPLE. "I'm really grateful for everyone's support and hope to have my life back on track soon."
He previously opened up about his battle with substance abuse following his initial time in rehab, admitting that the issue began when the family's boat broke down and they began spending time in the nearby city of Juneau.
"I've always been able to handle city life, no problem. But I started hanging out with people who drank. They didn't have a problem with it so while I was around them, I started drinking," he said.
Brown claimed at the time that while his drinking started out light, "it got to be more and more," causing him to become "more withdrawn," slower, and causing things not to excite him "the way they used to."
He said at first he was reluctant to tell his family out of fear of disappointing them. But he said he "could see myself spiraling" and "didn't want to be one of those guys" — so he got the help he needed. He completed a 35-day in-patient rehab program in the spring of 2016, where he came to the conclusion that while not an alcoholic, he had a tendency to abuse alcohol.
"I learned a lot about myself in those 35 days. I've turned my weakness into a strength," he said. "In life, we all get lost every now and then and have to find our way back. Not everyone makes it back, and I'm happy to be one of those who did."