Addiction Journal

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Peace and strength

Guest post by another Dad…

Another Terrible Day

As a father of a son who died two years ago, I still spend considerable time looking back at our behavior and feelings when we were trying to figure out if our son Chris was using and our actions when we had definitive proof.

Over the time span from 1996 when we began suspecting drug use to Chris’s death in 2012, my feelings changed from puzzlement to despair to finally numbness even with his death. Although much of that time period is a blur, I kept a daily journal of what was happening in our lives and the destructive impact that addiction had on our entire family.

The initial harrowing experience with addiction was when we had definitive proof of his drug usage after 3 years of disturbing behavior that piqued our belief that drugs could be involved.

At the time, we were going for counselling to address our issues in dealing with Chris when during the session, I couldn’t hold back my suspicions any longer and accused him of using. He immediately jumped out of his seat and angrily got in my face, saying: “You’re not going to live through the night.” The counsellor chalked the whole thing up to typical teenage behavior. Of course I was flabbergasted by my son’s words and even more so by the counsellor’s response.

After this incident, we drove home barely speaking to each other. Later that night, after telling my wife that he was going out and hugging her, she felt bags in his jacket which turned out to be marijuana. We now had the proof that we were looking for which justified our suspicions over the years. It became a very tense scene, the most frightening that I had ever encountered up to that point in my entire life. Standing in the kitchen at opposite sides of the counter that separated us and after accusing him of being involved with drugs, he became very agitated, holding a knife with both hands to his gut threatening to kill himself. I took this threat very seriously and believed he would either do it, as he already had one suicide attempt, or try to kill me. Our attempt to calm him down wasn’t working at all. As I kept talking to him and vainly attempting to work my way around to where he was standing, trying to convince him not to do anything, my wife was able to leave the room and call the police. She did this for two reasons. First we feared for his life and really had no control of what was going on. Secondly, we wanted him arrested. Our goal was to try and nip this in the bud by scaring him with the police. We were also able to get our 11 year old daughter out of the house so that she wouldn’t be any more traumatized than she already had been.

Chris was brought to the state police barracks, booked and released. His court case went relatively well and he was released with several conditions. One was that he had to go for treatment and secondly he was assigned a probation officer who would test him to make certain he was clean. If he succeeded with these, the arrest would be wiped off his record especially since he was under the age of 16. We found a drug rehab program that was good with minors, 2 hours from our house. This was his new home for the first 2 months of his senior year in high school. His treatment included family night every Monday which all of us including our 11 year old attended. Little did we know that this was the first of many rehab programs that he would attend and lead to an uncountable number of ER visits as he sank deeper into his addiction.

Anonymous post and letter

as requested a post from a mom who loves her child…

If you choose to post this, please make it anonymous. I respect my son’s desire for privacy.

It’s been a year and a half since I wrote this letter. I “re-gave” it to him a few months ago after a slide.

The black and white approach wasn’t working well for my son (for sure) or for me. I now look at relapses in order of degree: slip, slide or relapse, depending on drug and length of time until he stopped using again. I have been on this journey with my son for three years, which includes all drugs, particularly opiates, arrest, 3 months inpatient rehab and now his current status. The word navigation aptly describes my method of dealing with this. I respect different and tougher approaches. I admire how others choose to help their addict. I have to make my own choices and hope for the best. This is war and war is hell.

He has had only slips and slides since rehab, according to my definitions, and these have been very short-lived and less and less frequent. I visualize a big man-made hole in the ground that he is now getting out of by pulling himself out, slowly. slipping a little occasionally, grasping at the ropes. He will, I hope, haul himself over the edge, lay there exhausted but wiser and never look back into that pit again.

On the plus side, throughout this drug train trip, he has continued to go to school full time (now college and doing pretty well) and work part-time at the same place (owners are angels) with a nice bunch of young people to work with (I think.) He has a nice girlfriend now (I think) and has just recently broken away from most of his pals that shared in the same drug game (I think.) His moods are less erratic and he treats me with respect and kindness. He tells me when he’ll be home and for the most part, answers my texts and calls. He is paying us back for past damage done to his car.

On the not plus side, he doesn’t go to AA or any meetings. He tests positive for THC, which he is open about. (I don’t condone it. I don’t kick him out, either.)

I really don’t want to hear negative responses to my way of navigating this war, but I understand why I would get many. We all want to believe our way works and share it with others dealing with this. All I know is: for the last several months, I have seen progress. He is responsible, less moody and healthier. His way of getting out of drug addiction might not work. My current navigating and compromise may not work. But it might.

I hope all parents and addicts navigating this dirty road find a path that works.

The letter :

May 20, 2014

Dear Son,

I hope that when you read this your head is clear and you can

understand how I feel. I will always, always love you and yearn

for you to be happy and healthy, just the way you were…

I am trying to navigate the waters of helping you stay away

from the hell that is drugs and find that I am unable to keep

you from sliding back into the ugly black water. I would do

anything to keep you safe, healthy and happy. But I can’t . I am

finally realizing that I have absolutely no power to change

things or even help you to stop. I can’t imagine my life without

my sober Nolan and don’t want accept Nolan on drugs as a


Using marijuana to stay off heroin probably won’t work for

you. I can see signs that it is becoming compelling and am so

afraid it is leading you right down the path. It is terrifying to

think that this is what your life might be, a constant desire and

search for a something that controls you. Something that

changes you, sickens you and makes you have to lie and sell to

get it. I know in my heart that you don’t want that life.

Hope. There’s always hope. Where there’s breath there’s hope.

I keep saying that to myself. I believe it.

I have always loved you and will always love you. You can’t

even fathom the love that a mom (or dad) has for their child.

It’s what makes you want to exist and brings such unbelievable

joy! That doesn’t mean, however, that I can watch you hurt

yourself and even help you by standing by in fear.

When I am ready, I will stop. And I hope that when you are

ready, you will stop, too. It’ll be hard for both of us and we will

need to reach out to others for their support. Strangers, even.

That’s how it works. That’s the “journey.”




thank you anonymous… your letter will help others

peace and strength!

Recovery expectations

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
― Alexander Pope

When my son was using Heroin I would think ” he will recover and things will be unicorns and rainbows”.

I figured he would visit for coffee or check-in daily. The things that he did before he got clean.

Unfortunately he does not keep close contact with us and I am struggling a bit with that. I do get an occasional text and a rare visit, but it’s not what I “EXPECTED”

Overtime I have learned that my expectations are worthless. It was a hard lesson for me to grasp. It’s his life and I am sure I was not checking in with my Dad when I was in my early twenties and living on my own.

Sobriety is different than I thought it would be. But it beats the alternative…

So I guess …

today is a good day.

peace and strength

Change in perspective hopefully?

pastaYears ago I attended a parent group local to Boston. I learned some good stuff there.

I remember one night they had a “Politician in recovery” speak.

His words that night infuriated me …He looked out from the podium and stated

“If you sit down and have dinner with your kids each night they will have a less likely chance of becoming addicted”

At that point I was done. I recall the wonderful dinners my late wife would make. I recall taking my son and his puppy for long walks and discussing everything from crushes on the pretty girls to the dangers of drugs.

My son sat with us for many delicious dinners, and guess what? He became a heroin addict.

Years past and the man that spoke at that meeting so many years ago has become our nations “drug czar” . Info here I hope his point of view has changed over time.

Granted we all learn both good and bad on this journey. Our perspectives change over time (as they should). I hope our nations drug czar has retired the “eating dinner with your child will have no affect on the potential for addiction…” concept. The problem is far too daunting to be held off by rigatoni and meatballs…

Just my point of view Michael Botticelli. I wish you continued recovery and hope you address the issues that face our youth ..

peace and strength