The strangest influences can have an effect on how we deal with the day-to-day struggles tied to addiction. Our family, police, neighbors, bank account, and other elements play strongly into the path our addicted loved ones will take. We are subconsciously prepared for those types of game pieces to be on the board of addiction. Our parental psyches are prepared by what we see in the media as the addiction epidemic grows. For me, it was the unusual “wild cards” that would paralyze my day, before I learned to let go of my child’s addiction.
In my early recovery I empowered my child’s cell phone. It possessed the power to control my emotions and manipulate my thoughts. If my son did not answer my call I would immediately assume he was dead, arrested, or experiencing some other dire consequence. Many parents play the game I term “Cell Phoniness.” The cell phone became one of the paralyzing wild cards in my son’s drug drama. That simple communication device was a wild card, whose fear I needed to overcome.
When we begin to “own our child’s addiction” and actually admit that there could be a problem, we use the technology of a cell phone as a life-line to our sinking child. We think that if we hear their voice on the other end, that they are safe. We lie to ourselves and think that life is normal if he picks up his phone. When the child does not pick up the phone, we panic! We dial frantically every few minutes, sometimes for hours, until our child returns from wherever their addiction has taken them. At the point they finally answer our phone call, we foolishly buy into the lame excuse that inevitably comes rolling off their lips. “Dad, I was at the movies and had the phone on silent” was his common reply. We accept their lie and are simply relieved that our child survived yet another day.
Another level of the cell phone game is played when we scour our monthly bill attempting to find the contact numbers of dealers and other negative influences in our children’s life. We are never quite sure what action to take when we eventually find these phone numbers and often end up completely frustrated. Managing a phone is not a healthy exercise and never provides a truthful result when our kids are in active addiction. Parents profess proudly, “I deleted every number of every drug addicted friend!” Until they don’t want to participate in the addiction, our children will find drugs, using Morse-code if necessary. We must begin to accept the concept “We can not control it.”
The only control we have is the option to not pay the bill and shut the service down completely. We often get angry and contemplate the shutoff, yet our fear challenges us, “Do we dare shut off the life-line to our child who is sick? Shouldn’t we be there 24 x 7 to fix any issue that arises?” The head games caused by this communication device are maddening for a parent who is new to addiction.
Another game our kids play with cell phones is the smuggling them into recovery facilities that enforce a no cell phone policy. They risk being tossed from the program, not for drug usage, but for the use of their
My son had failed in numerous attempts in other facilities to maintain sobriety. There was always an excuse for each failure.
Cell phone usage had sealed his fate at one facility.
After a period of drugging he called me from the street, tired out from usage. He was again asking if I would drive him to a detox facility, to which I agreed. The ride to the facility was much less strained than previous trips, as I had begun to grasp that his recovery was truly out of my hands. I simply told him that if he was tossed out of this new facility he should not contact me for a ride home as I was done playing in the drug drama. Should he be tossed for fighting, smoking cigarettes at the wrong time, or any other house infraction he would be on his own again. I noticed calmness about him. He nodded and simply took the cell phone out of his pocket and left it in the glove compartment of my car. This was a stark contrast to the times he would extract the SIM chip and smuggle that into earlier facilities. He decided to cut off the communication with his old crowd. To me that was a defining moment in his current sobriety now approaching two years.
A facet of cell phone paralyzation can occur when our children are actively using. Our child’s name listed on the incoming caller ID can buckle our knees with fear. We always pick up, never knowing what chaos waits on the other end of the call. Is our child overdosed? Is our child arrested? Is our child in jail? Ten million scenarios run through our minds in a nanosecond as we see juniors name in the caller ID.
Shutting off that “life-line” or at least not micromanaging the device is a skill that takes parents continued work to develop. Attempts at controlling your loved one’s associates by playing the game of “Cell Phoniness” are futile and too emotionally draining. Addiction recovery for parents is work and the most unusual wildcards can spiral us into emotional chaos. We learn that in reality the “life-line” in the hands of the addicted is merely a “lie-line”.
I was recently attending a social engagement when my recovering son called. I let the call go to voicemail. I could. It felt good…
Categorised as: Coping Skills