Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another mom's story to share with all of you

Today, I am feeling hopeful. B called me, and we spoke for a good length of time. It sounds like he is going to take his counselors suggestion that he check into a Sober Living Environment (SLE). He understands that he would need to pay for this from his trust account. I think it's good that B needs to spend his trust fund (that wouldn't pay out until he turns 25) because this is his chance to accept the responsibility of investing in his own recovery. He needs this to save his not return to using Oxy nor smoking heroin. He sounds good, on the phone. I miss him so much. I knew that the day would come that my son should go out and learn to live on his own. I just didn't think that would happen under these circumstances.

My husband just called to tell me that Blue Shield billed B's stay at his treatment center. Are you ready? $25,576.00. Fortunately, B's insurance pays 90% of this. I cannot imagine how someone can afford to do this, if they didn't have insurance. I am thankful, believe me. I give God all of the glory for every day that my son is alive, and that he is in day #30 of his recovery. I can't but think of those who are living on the streets, or trying to kick their opiate addiction on their own. B is thriving at his treatment center. Even though he is being discharged, today, he will be attending the ongoing classes three nights a week. B wants to do this, so that is giving me a lot of hope.

Yesterday, I read a posting from a mother on the website that I found yesterday. I took a chance, and sent her an email of encouragement. She wrote back to me, and she shared her own story. She has given me permission to share it with you. Please feel free to leave your comments, as they mean a lot to me. Thank you:

Sent: Sun, 20 Apr 2008 11:33 pm
My son is 26 years old. All his life, he's been great looking, popular, extremely personable, and an all around great son. He has a smile that always melted my heart and a sweetness that made him loved by everyone who ever met him. Early childhood wasn't perfect. I was a young mother and his father and I divorced when he and his sister were very young. They had a pretty hard time with a couple of different stepmothers and often had to travel between many states to see both of their parents.

What my son wasn't, was a good student. He always struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder, had trouble concentrating, and never had much interest in school. He did what he had to do to make good enough grades to play basketball, which he loved.

Jeffrey and I were always very close, but he was very protective of me. He often put on a brave face to protect my feelings. I knew that, especially in high school, he battled depression, but I saw it as normal teenage angst. He had tumultuous times with his girlfriend and the usual teenage ups and downs....or so I thought.

It wouldn't be until he was 25 years old that I would have a clue that the problem went deeper. After a breakup with his girlfriend of 4 years and some business problems with his dad, he became withdrawn. My son had lived away from me since graduating from high school, but had always stayed in close touch with me. He called me nearly daily...sometimes more. Even when he felt down, he'd call. But in the fall of 2007, things changed. Once again, I wrote it off to depression. That would be understandable, after all. He had just been through a breakup and the trouble with his dad and the business. When he didn't call as much, I thought he was just trying to protect me from seeing how down he was.

At Christmas, though, it became very clear that my son was very different. He finally made it home on Christmas morning....late. He knew how important Christmas was to us and promised to be her early. When he got here, he was irritable and agitated. Christmas was very uncomfortable. My son had always been very thoughtful and considerate of me and our family, especially his grandmother. But this year he couldn't sit still. Throughout the few days he was home for Christmas, he never stayed home more than a couple of hours without having to "go take a ride". He said all the company was overwhelming him and he just had to get out from time to time. He just wasn't my son. I worried that the breakup had really taken a heavy toll on him.

After Christmas, I began to worry A LOT. Nearly every time I called him, I got his voicemail, which was usually full. He rarely returned my calls. Then when he did, he was very defensive and said that I was the one who was acting differently. I would later learn that this kind of "realtiy switch" is very common with addicts.

In March, our whole family was to meet in Austin, Texas. My daughter is an artist and she and her brother were working together to open a gallery in Austin. As I was driving from Dallas to Austin, I got the call that would turn my world upside down. A girl whom my son had been dating for a short time called and filled me in. My son had a problem....a bad problem. He was addicted to Oxycontin. Worse than that, he had recently started using very dangerous amounts and was also doing cocaine. She actually felt as though his life could be in danger, if something didn't happen soon.

Scared to death, and at a complete loss for how to do it, I knew I had to get him into treatment. Until just a few days before this call, I had NEVER thought that my son had a drug problem....NEVER!

Here's the thing....I'm not a naive, sheltered person. I experimented with drugs when I was young. I'm only 44 years old and am not out of touch with what goes on in the world. I'm a very successful businesswoman with more than 250 employees. Many of them, young people around my kids' ages. I've spent much time mentoring them, as well as my kids' friends. I was involved in my kids' lives and thought that I had a pretty good view of what was going on in their worlds. Boy, was I wrong!

I never doubted the caller's story. I had just started to wonder whether my son might be using drugs. It was the only thing that made any sense. I asked the caller to go online and google "drug treatment in Texas". She called me back with a number. I called and was directed to another number for help with an intervention. I called that number, which was in Minnesota. I don't remember the name of the company, but it is a company that does interventions. They flew someone down that very night and we intervened on my son the next morning.

The night before the intervention, we all went out to dinner. I had to act as though nothing was wrong, knowing all the while that we would abruptly awaken my son in the morning with a stranger present, who was ready to take him directly to treatment. It didn't seem real! How could this be happening to US?? We're a normal, suburban, loving and close knit family. What had gone wrong?? That dinner was very uncomfortable. My son was so loving and sweet and was really holding it together. He was really going out of his way to appear "normal". Honestly, he seemed great! If I hadn't gotten that call, I'd never have known, based on that dinner, that there was a problem. I actually felt guilty for what I was about to do.

The next morning, we did it. His stepfather (whom he loves like a real dad), his sister, me, one of his best friends, and his very best friend on speaker phone, were there. I was so scared. I didn't know how he'd react. After all, this was not my was my son ON DRUGS. Would he storm out? Get violent? Refuse treatment?

The bottom line is this: He voluntarily went into treatment. He had actually told several of his friends that, as soon as the gallery opened, he was going to go. I don't know whether he would've followed through or not, but it comforted me to know that he had wanted help! It was hard for him that it happened this way, but he didn't fight us. He told us he loved us, he was sorry, and he went, willingly, directly into a detox hospital. I've never felt so much relief in my entire life.

The withdrawal period was hard. He was sick, sweating, cold, and very anxious. He threatened many times to leave. But, THANK GOD, he didn't. Watching his withdrawal was scary and sad, but he was safe! They were giving him meds for anxiety and the muscle cramps that go with opiate withdrawal, so it could've been worse. But he was taking a lot of drugs and his withdrawal was hard. I don't think I've ever been more proud of my son than I was of him for staying in that hospital and sticking it out. After 4 days, he was much better and ready to transfer to the treatment center. I drove him, myself and it was an emotional 2 hour ride, but one I will never forget. I was so proud of him for his determination to get better, his openness with our family and his friends, and his humility during this time. I finally was getting my sone back.

He was at La Hacienda in Hunt, Texas for 35 days. I believe these 35 days saved Jeffrey's life. He left La Hacienda and went to a sober living facility in Dallas, where he is today. He will be there for at least 90 days. While there, he attends NA meeting daily, and is in an intensive outpatient program through La Hacienda. He is very dedicated to his recovery. This will be a lifelong journey, but he's working very hard.

HERE'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I WANT TO SAY: My son did drugs to feel "normal". His memory of his first drug experience was that of feeling he fit in, finally! Now remember, this was a beautiful, popular, charismatic kid to everyone else. But to himself, he was so different...a fraud...someone that people wouldn't like if they knew the "real" him. He was very uncomfortable in his own skin. No one would've guessed that he had this emptiness inside. This is why he had been doing drugs off and on for 10 years! At first, it was to feel normal. Eventually, though, it stopped working and he had to use, just to keep from getting sick.

The biggest revelation to my son when he got to treatment was that he wasn't as different from the rest of the world as he thought. All his life, he thought that something was wrong with him...that he was different. But, in listening to the stories of the other patients and alumni, he took great comfort in knowing that he is not alone. Addiction is a disease that is shared by millions....old and young.....male and and poor...every race.



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