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I have gotten really angry at my son in the past. I took his addiction as some type of disrespect. His past usage was a dishonor to me and the family. Thankfully I found people, books, and blogs that taught me to think differently. It took a lot of time.
I guess I would caution new parents against getting sucked into the Parent vs Child (us vs them) wars. I have seen parents in support groups rail in anger against their children. I have seen far too many threads on social media sharing how “mean” a addicted child had been to a mommy (or daddy). Then the following replies propel the thread into the “us vs them” wars. It’s a waste of time and energy. Their addiction is not about you. Someone taught me to not take it personally. I am trying to pass that wisdom onto parents that are new to addiction.
Addiction is a disease. A mental, physical, emotional disease.
Would you get angry at someone who winced at the pain brought on from cancer?
Before I go into what happened when he knocked, I want to quickly explain our family so you get why him knocking was a huge event in our life. My older son was a Marine, and was shot in Iraq. He is medically retired and disabled. He struggles with PTSD, and as his family we are all very protective of him by limiting who comes to our home, and we keep arguments away from him for the most part. We also have no soliciting signs and no trespassing signs on our door because strangers or interruptions have been known to set him off.
And then my addict knocked… Unfortunately for him, I was not home and it was my older son who answered the door. My older son called me and asked WTH was he knocking on the door for? I rushed home, afraid of what I would find. When I pulled up my younger son was sitting on the driveway, my other two sons were there with him. My older son had searched him and his friend for drugs and/or paraphernalia and would not even allow them in the house to use the restroom. I asked my son what he wanted. He told me he was sober. I’ve heard this story before, so many times, that I did not really even believe him. My sons have also heard this too many times and they did not believe him either. I think we all stood there shaking our heads.
Not once did any of us realize the strength or courage it must have taken him to come to our door. About this time, my son’s baby momma pulled up… And let me tell you, if you think we as parents can be hard on our addicts, we have nothing on baby mommas. She lit into him like a fourth of July firework going off. Now don’t feel sorry for him, he earned this… But he stood there with tears running down his face; he could not even look up at any one of us. He kept trying to say sorry, but his voice was cracking. He finally found his voice and told her he was sober.
Like us, she had no reason to believe him. She told him to take a drug test. That we would go buy one right that moment. He told us how you can fake the over the counter tests, and wanted us to truly believe he was sober. He said that he would go to Tasc- Treatment Assessment Screening Center– the next day, because you can’t fake those tests and it is court admissible. Of course, we all thought this was just a ploy or cop out to taking a test. But at that point he said he loved us all, gave each of us a hug and left. I honestly did not believe I would hear from him again.
The next day he called me. He went to Tasc but they wouldn’t take the ID he had. He asked me for a copy of his birth certificate so he could get a state issued ID. I did meet him with his certificate at a local convenience store, where he asked if he could hug me. I don’t think I have ever cried more as I wrapped my arms around my son, and felt how skinny he truly was. He kissed my cheek and said he would call me soon. Two days later I received a call from Tasc saying that my test was ready to be picked up. My test??? HUH??? So I went over there and the lady informed me that my son set it up for me to pick up the results.
I asked if he received the results and she said no, he only wanted me to pick them up. She handed me an envelope and I shook as I opened it. He passed. He was completely sober on all drugs. This was the first time I could honestly say he was sober of all drugs since he was busted with Marijuana in 7th grade. And having all the doubts that I do, I asked several hundred questions of the poor lady from Tasc. How possible is it to cheat a Heroin test? Could he use synthetic urine? Etc….
And she gave me a quick tour of the facility. I know in Arizona we have Tasc, but I am sure every state has something similar. Talk about humiliating, you have to let someone watch you pee. When they test, they perform several tests to ensure that it is accurate and quality collection.
Basically speaking, it is the hardest place in AZ to cheat. And he passed….
First thanks to the parents who contributed to this blog during the week; well done!
If you have an inclination to share or post please email your post to addictionjournal@ gmail.com
I love when the topic of addiction comes up and it is stated, “If you keep them in sports they wont get into drugs” The logic is that “sports” takes up all of their free time. Damn Im stupid. I could have saved myself a lot of parental pain by keeping my son in sports. We can eradicate addiction with ease. Simply tear down the rehabs and force the youth of America into Soccer! We can save millions of dollars!
Having a kid in sports will not protect them from the ghost of future addiction. Anyone that tells you that can set the “way back machine” to 1950 and watch the movie “Reefer Madness”
There are hundreds of sports stars that have struggled or lost careers while dancing with the demon. Addiction will gladly play on the field of your choice whether it’s the NFL,Fenway Park, or PGA.
You may wish to ask Todd Maranovich, Josh Gordon, Lawence Taylor , Dennis Rodman, John Daly, Theoron Fleury ( the list goes on and on… )
My eyes tend to roll when educators and parents simplify the drug issue as a lack of morality. Their logic – “Good kids play sports, Bad kids hang on corners and become addicted.” That 1950s Leave it to Beaver logic both baffles and enrages me.
Hey if your child cant excel in sports, maybe after school acting will work for them. How is that working out for Lindsey Lohan?
My daughter’s road of addiction seems so long that I can’t remember exactly when all of this started. I believe it was in 2011 or the end of 2010, my daughter came to me and told me she was addicted to Percocet. At the time I didn’t realize how serious the situation was, and looking back, she was probably already using heroin, but I’m not sure. I immediately took her to the family doctor who tried putting my daughter on a lower dose of Percocet to wean her off of them, but she declined and insisted she could stop using them on her own. I believed she could do it. I think it was an initial stage of the denial process and truly wanting to believe she was fine, on both of our parts. Then the day came when I found out she was addicted to heroin. It was the end of 2011. I was in shock, I was terrified. I knew heroin was incredibly dangerous. Prior to my daughter’s addiction she had found out that some of her childhood friends had become addicts. The irony is my daughter used to lecture them, even yell at them, and watched as one or two of them overdosed right in front of her. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how this could happen to her. Why would she do this to herself? Then I went into “fix it” mode.
There had been some issues with her “experimenting” when she was younger: alcohol, pot, and Triple C’s; which seemed to start when she and her “best friend” began hanging out regularly…well it probably started before that, but became increasingly worse once she and the “best friend” became acquainted. Over the next few months she went to the hospital at least 3 times for overdoses, once or twice as a precaution and the third time for a severe alcohol overdose. The police were called countless times, she went missing for days. When she was at home, she would be verbally and physically abusive. I was in a living hell. I consistently urged her to go to counseling. She would finally agree to seek help, then after a few sessions would always refuse to return stating that counselors were stupid and a waste of time.
One day something seemed to click in her brain: she switched schools, got straight A’s, graduated early, and went on to cosmetology school. She accomplished all of this while working 1-2 jobs at a time and having a boyfriend we initially thought was “good for her”. I truly thought we were out of the darkness. I thought all was good. Then BAM.
The reality was that both my daughter and her boyfriend were addicts. Her boyfriend had parents who were “unsupportive” and he had nowhere to go (obviously they were farther along on this journey than we were). We took him in, along with my daughter. We had long talks with both of them, during which we created rules and boundaries, such as: no drugs were allowed at all, help out around the house, get a job, and stay clean. I think we had this discussion a couple of times. I don’t know why. We just wanted to help them get sober, become responsible and stable.
What we defined as helping actually turned into a vicious cycle that consisted of us being taken advantage of, rules being broken, drugs were done behind closed doors, endless lies being told, things were stolen, stories made up. It was exhausting and frustrating for all of us. The entire mess was taking a severe toll on me, my marriage, and most of all my poor son.
At this time, my daughter had a good job at a hair salon close to where we lived, until she was caught smoking heroin in the bathroom. They fired her immediately; she then decided to go to rehab. Her decision started a chain reaction, her best friend and her boyfriend also decided to go to rehab. They both were able to attend a 90 day rehab, while my daughter was only able to attend for 30 days (it was actually like 27 or 28).
My son and I participated in the family “counseling” sessions on Saturdays prior to visiting her on Sundays. It really seemed as though she turned over a new leaf and she was committed to staying clean. We were so proud of her. When she finished her stint in rehab, we brought her home. To commemorate her new beginning we cleaned up her room, painted it, bought her new bedding and fixtures, and even hung up inspirational quotes. My husband and I purchased another vehicle for ourselves so we could let my daughter use one of our cars to find a job and attend all of her meetings.
For a while it seemed everything was going great. However, then she was never home due to work, meetings, hanging out with her sober friends, and meeting a new boy. She did nothing at home in the way of chores and it was obvious she was not taking care of the car either. I started to wonder if she was still on track; I think most parents of addicts have that gut feeling. Then the wonder turned to worrying if I was just being paranoid? I convinced myself that there was no way my kid would go back to that life! Right? Wrong. She finally confessed to me that she was smoking cocaine, meth, as well as heroin. And the living hell began again.
The meth really put a psychotic edge to the addiction. There were endless days of violent, psychotic episodes. She would cry for help, and then back out. The walls of my home would reverberate with screaming, cursing, and crying. Paranoia would ensue, then the inevitable crash. She would immediately use a drug and then it would start all over again.
There are some things I still can’t discuss, it’s too nightmarish. Finally one day I hit a breaking point. We had taken her to detox the day before with the hope that she would detox from the meth then go into rehab. She didn’t last long in there, in record time she was out on the street. The next morning I received a call from a police officer saying I had to come get my daughter. She was loitering somewhere (and of course she wouldn’t shut up and they probably just wanted to get rid of her). My daughter is an adult. I didn’t understand why I had to go pick her up. But I did. I spent the rest of the day with her at my brother’s house trying to convince her to go to rehab. She kept saying she wanted to go but she had to get high one last time. She was screaming, then crying, then screaming, kicking walls, and crying some more. Then she finally fell asleep. I called the rehab. Of course they told me that SHE would need to want to go to rehab. What was said next is the one statement I will remember forever, the counselor said to me, “You need to remove yourself from the situation. She will never get help if you keep helping her.”
With the counselor’s words ringing in my head, I put my daughter in my car and told her I would drop her off at rehab or somewhere else. She was begging me to take her to her dealer’s house then she would go to rehab! I refused. I pulled over near a shopping plaza parking lot. She proceeded to scream and yell at me. I told her to get out of my car or I was going to call the police. Of course she refused, I called the police. She reacted by freaking out, hitting me, and then running off. The cops showed up, as usual, they didn’t really care. Apparently by law there was nothing they could do. They finally told me I could get a restraining order against her. My only hope at that point was maybe if she was forced to stay away from me she would eventually get help. So off to the court house I went to receive a restraining order against my own daughter.
Shortly after arriving home, she showed up at the front door. We refused to let her come into the house and once again we placed a call to the police. In the meantime she was outside creating a dramatic scene; doing her best to make sure we saw her trying to slit her wrists and hang herself. The police and paramedics showed up. She refused any treatment. I spoke to one of the officers about the restraining order, he assured me that I was doing the right thing, and then went to go serve the papers to my daughter. I was called a very ugly name (one that any mother never dreams of hearing), she finally got up and went to the ambulance. She was at the hospital on a 72 hour hold, and then went straight to rehab…again.
After the latest ordeal, living in my house was no longer an option for her. She jumped ship from rehab before she was supposed to and went to a sober living house. She met a new guy (I warned her about dating in her current condition, but I can’t make her stay away from guys). He seemed really nice, sweet, and respectful. Another guy that could be “good for her”? I had no idea, but what could I do about it? They ended up getting an apartment with another couple, about an hour away from where we lived. She found a new job, seemed to be happy, and finally on the right track.
Apparently the cycle started again long before we knew about it. She ended up losing everything again. She was fired, lost her boyfriend, and no longer had a place to live. During this time a sweet little dog had been adopted by my daughter as well. I told her we would take care of the dog, but she couldn’t move back in.
This time she ended up going to a rehab for 30 days in Florida. Before she left though she kept saying she needed a place to stay when she got out. I kept saying, well you need to figure that out. Honestly, I did not have a good feeling about her going to rehab, it seemed as though she was going just to get sober for a while to then weasel her way back home. Despite her relentless pressure, I kept refusing her requests to move back in. Then the counselors at the rehab got involved. It was unbelievable; she was even playing them for fools! They told me how she was just a “lost little girl”, she needed to be given another chance, etc. I couldn’t believe they were saying this to me. Even AFTER my daughter told them that I am one of her “triggers”. That’s another awesome perk to being a parent of an addict; I get to be called a “trigger”. I became one of the reasons my kid wants escapes into drugs. I don’t know if this is a real term or some fabricated nonsense to make a parent feel even crappier. Have any of you been labeled a “trigger”? When I ask why, I’m always told it’s none of my business.
We ended up caving under the pressure from her and the counselors. We let her move back in…again. It lasted all of a month. To be honest, she didn’t even try this time. Of course she believed I was unreasonable with the few rules and boundaries I had in place, which she agreed to before she moved back in, if I called her out on something I was “crazy” and she didn’t know what I was talking about. She met another new guy; she even admitted that her gut was telling her to stay away from him. As soon as I told her it was probably a good idea to follow her instinct, she ran right for him. It was shortly after this we had to kick her out. She was bringing him to the house to shower (he was homeless). She was beyond disrespectful about the decision. After hours of more yelling, screaming, and verbal abuse, she finally left.
A few days later she must have returned, broke into the house even though we took her key, and stole one of our checkbooks. She immediately went and cashed a $250.00 check at our bank after forging my signature.
I turned her phone off. Then she messaged me on Facebook, basically wanted help again and hinting that she wanted back in the house. When I told her no, she went right into ‘holier than thou mode’, letting me know how stupid and ridiculous I am. I then blocked her profile on Facebook.
I’ve even heard from her Dad, which is rare. Apparently he thinks I should be “helping” her, giving her another chance, and letting her move back in. “She’s in danger, she needs our help.” I asked where he was all this time and that he had no right to tell me what he thinks I should do. According to him and my daughter, my “tough love” is too harsh. Nobody does this to their kids. How can I turn my back on my child no matter what she’s done? *Sigh*.
I have mostly been a single Mom. I have two kids; my son is now 17 and my daughter will be 22 in a couple of months. My husband and I have known each other since I was 17. We started dating a few years back and have been married almost 6 years now. I think if we hadn’t been friends all these years he might have left a long time ago. Perhaps I’m not giving him enough credit, but dealing with the fall-out of addiction is overwhelming, it’s hard to even put into words how horrible it truly is. Yet he stayed and I don’t know what I would have done without him. What was helpful and difficult for me at the same time was the fact that a stepparent can see things from an outside perspective. Yes, he was a part of the many arguments, concerns, and frustrations; but there was also understanding, comfort, and support for her and for me. Because he loves my kids as though they are his own, he struggled with all of this as well and carries the same guilt and worry that I do.
We weren’t the only casualties of addiction; my son suffered too and was put on the back burner frequently because of all this. I sometimes took him for granted; Many times I assumed that he was fine and strong. He would always come into my room when I was crying and ask me if I was alright. I know seeing his sister go through this mess as well as his Mom has been incredibly difficult for him, although he doesn’t necessarily act like it most of the time. I can’t tell you how much I just want to protect him, help him, love him, and I pray every day that he makes good choices.
It’s exhausting just writing this. Going through all of it again. Right now I try to live day to day. I think about my daughter all the time hoping she’s okay, wondering if she will ever “get it”. What damage has she done to herself that can never be undone? Will she ever be “normal”? Will she live to see tomorrow? What did I do to make her want to make herself numb? What did she do?
Some things I’ve learned so far:
• It’s easier to tell other parents what to do in this situation than it is to tell yourself
• No matter what happens, you truly do always love your kids
• There are times though when you need to walk away for your own sanity and health
• There are times you need to walk away for your other family members’ sanity and health
• Just when you think you’re not strong enough to go through anymore, you get through more.
• I am co-dependent
• I am an enabler
• I can’t change anybody, only myself.
• This is not my fault (this one is still tough)
Was I the perfect Mom? No. I made so many mistakes it’s pathetic, but I tried my best. I have always been there for my kids. We have mostly been very honest and open with each other. Of course I wish I could go back and change some things, but I can’t. It has always been me and my kids through good times and bad. We always had each other no matter what the circumstances were. Now the dynamics have changed. My son is growing older and doesn’t need or want his Mom around so much. My daughter is not currently in my life at all. The family is looking forward to some new life changing adventures coming up soon. My daughter’s little dog was adopted by my parents (my Dad is completely in love with this dog! It’s the cutest thing ever)!
Our lives have to move forward. Sometimes I feel like I am mourning my daughter. One thing I still have though is hope. Hope that she will one day want to seriously get help and stick to it. As long as she is alive and on this earth, I still have hope. That’s what I hold on to.