Saturday, January 31, 2009

Give your addict a test...not a pop quiz

I could hardly wait for this Saturday morning so that I could sleep in, enjoy my morning cup of coffee and to catch up on email. This has been a very hectic week at my job and in dealing with B's recent discovery that he has been using since his return from rehab #2 in October.

I'm feeling less pensive today-- I give credit to the weather being sunny and glorious, a good night's rest and a therapy session with my husband last night. On the way home, alone in my car, I felt as though God had given me wisdom. So, I'll jump right into it:

B has his car back. It's semi-fixed, but he says that it's just not quite right. He cannot afford to have the axle repaired to good-as-new condition. He's been home and he has moments of being in good spirits and moments of having chills (chattering teeth and all). His appetite varies. These are all stages of detox from opiates.

Yesterday, B came to my job to deliver my forgotten cellphone and I had a chance to meet his sponsor, "D". We chatted for about five minutes. I noticed that B's eye were dilated. From what I understand, and B acknowledges, this is a sign of withdrawal. He appeared anxious-- either signs of withdrawal of using. He was headed to our local college, with his sponsor, to try and get his paperwork in for financial aid. My impression of his sponsor was that he was a nice looking young man. I invited him to our home, for Super Bowl, so that we could all talk. "D" is willing to share his story. He seems to care about my son, and so I left with a hopeful impression of "D".

Our therapy session-- we told "J" about B's newest episode. She looked so disappointed, since she's had two private sessions with him. Basically, she said that the odds of my son's success in an outpatient program are very grim. She believes that B should be in a one year in-patient program. I agree-- but I can also tell you that it's easier said than done.

She asked how often we had tested B, and we realized that it was only once.
"Why?" she asked. C and I both paused...and he answered, "Because we thought that he was doing so well".

Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

First, B has to be willing to go. He isn't. I believe that B's reluctance is that he is deathly afraid of detox-- true detox... dry detox. From what addicts tell me, it is worse than natural childbirth. They say that the physical pain of withdrawal from opioids is so frightening that it is usually why they continue to use. I have been told that, unless you experience it, it's hard to explain the agony of it all. Is this a good excuse? Yes and No.

B went through dry detox in April. He was an in-patient for 30 days at a top-rated facility. It cost $36,000.

So, there is problem #2 - In-patient treatment is costly. I am still making arranged payments for my share of what the insurance did not cover. I cannot afford another round, and as long as B has medical insurance, they will not give a waiver on the balance due. This seems to be a universal law.

There are in-patient facilities and I have spoken to a few. They can be "free" but they are all dry detox. You get a bed, and you go through the agony of physical withdrawal. Last night, B said that he can't do it. He won't. He's scared to death, and I can see it.

My husband and I sat close together, and he was supportive and loving. I feel confident, that our marriage is growing closer because of this. As I've said before, he is a man with a good heart. I'm blessed to be loved by him. He understands my love for my son, and he says he will never put me into a position to make a choice.

That gave me a sense of peace and comfort. As I listened to "J" saying that she doubts my son will succeed in his idea of getting into an outpatient facility (I called, and got the info...and B did go for an intake on Thursday), I was hit with a big dose of fear.

Towards the end of the session, I concluded that I was going to give my son the LAST AND FINAL CHANCE. I mean it-- this is it. The Last Stand.

"J" said that it is vitally important that I mean this. I know. Should my son fail to stay clean, then I have to be strong to let him go. I have always known this. Even if it means that he will use to the point of being caught and arrested, overdosing, or killing himself-- I know that this is the ugly path that untreated addiction will lead to.

I know that if, and when, the time comes, that I have to be strong and to let my son go.

There was a palpable sense of acceptance-- from my husband, that the decision is to allow B one last and final chance...from our therapist that this is my decision, from a mother's compassionate heart... that this was a decision I must stick with and follow through.

"C" and I were in separate cars, which gave me the time to think alone. That's when I felt a strong presence of God. It was as though God gave me the strength and a clear understanding of what I must say and do.

First, I decided to test B. I knew that this test would be my "baseline". That is, I figured that he'd test positive. He has only been clean (in theory) for less than five days).

I felt a strong conviction that I cannot give my son a penny. Not for snack food, gas or even special grocery requests. B should be thankful to be staying in our home. He can eat what we have. Period. That should be MORE than enough luxuries and it is certainly a better alternative to living on a friend's couch or sleeping on a kitchen floor.

When I got home, B was waiting for me and C was a few minutes behind. C offered to stop and buy Crystal Lite drink mix, since it's sugar free and B does drink a lot of fluid (part of his diabetes). B would rather drink sugar sodas, but I don't buy them-- ever.

I felt a renewed sense of confidence. I picked out a coffee mug and handed it to B.
"Here. Go pee in our bathroom.".
B said he couldn't, so he drank water.

"Let's talk", I said, as C walked into the door.

B's demeanor seemed calm and accepting.

I began to talk to B and I told him about our session. I told him that I agreed with out therapist that I felt B was taking a huge risk in thinking an outpatient program would be his answer to sobriety.

I told him that I had made my decision-- that he was living in our home for the LAST AND FINAL TIME. I reminded him that if he uses drugs, and I get a positive drug test that he would have to pack what he could, I would drop him off someplace and we would change the locks. I told him that if he called me, I'd hang up. He would have to find a third party if he needed to communicate to me.

I told him that Tough Love, Phase I begins--
  • Expect random drugs tests often and randomly
  • I will not give him money. No gas money. No fast food money. Nothing. If he needs money, get a job.
  • I told him that his car insurance is cancelled as of March 9th. His premium is paid through February 15th. I would not pay anything to insure his car.
  • He either goes to school and/or has a job. No laying around the house.
He readily agreed to all of it. He says he is already thinking of how to ride the bus. I will buy him a bus pass, but no cash.

Tough Love, Phase II begins when he gets thrown out of the house.

B took his drug test and it came out positive for opiates. I expected this. He is still detoxing. I will test often and he gets a few more days. Five more...tops. It better come out clean.

B and talked later on. He appears to be remorseful and he admitted he is afraid of being thrown out. I can only pray that his fear of my random tests will be enough to keep him from wanting to use.

B went on to explain to me how horrible his addiction is... he needs help. Professional help. He needs prayer, love and to earn back our trust.

We need God in our lives.

If you have a child who you suspect is using-- don't ask them if they are. They will lie.
Test them. Do it! I wish I had done that a long time ago. Had I known how easy they are to buy, I would have known sooner how deep in trouble my son was.

Please- test your child, if you suspect odd behavior. If only I had known...

I promised myself to go and exercise at 9:30 and it's past that. I'm going to quit for now.

I'll post again later. I'll post the links to where I buy my online drug tests. They are the same ones that doctors use. They cost about $5.00 each. They work.

I want to enjoy the weekend. I have no time to proof read or spell check.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Blowing off Steam

I'm so thankful that it's Friday, and that my husband and I have a therapy session at 4:30pm.
Since B's whole episode of "discovery" (that he's been lying and using all along), our house is feeling out of sorts.

There is a 5000 pound gorilla in our home, and it's like nobody can really face it.

My husband sent me an email, and I could tell that he was frustrated. I won't get into the details, but he is clearly upset with B.

I finally got B to answer the phone. He admitted that he lied...again. LIES. That is what he is all about. He lies about being clean. He lies about taking care of things. He twists what I say, when I clearly remember our conversation. He procrastinates. He doesn't see urgency in things that are important.

When I called B on it...again, he said maybe it's better that he just leaves. Am I supposed to beg him to stay?

I am reaching the end of my rope. We are nowhere.

B gives up. I am reaching a point of really blowing my resolve to stay and think clearly.

I'm just blowing off steam. This is what addiction does. It destroys families.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finding support - how do you do it? Can I help?

It's a "given" that my son's relapse (or, should I say continued use of drugs) is constantly on my mind. I cannot say that I'm not worried. But, I can find some comfort in feeling a sense of peace. My commute to work, each morning, is a special time for me--it is my time with God. I finally bought an iPod two years ago. Once I figured out how to download podcasts into my new gadget (and I am a gadget freak), I found that my commutes became my special time with the Lord. Each work day, I listen to Pastor Greg Laurie's podcast. My commute takes 40 minutes, so I listen to his daily message (20 minutes) and I pray out loud. By the way, the art of praying out loud has helped me to focus on actually TALKING to God! If you've never tried it, I can tell you that it takes the direction of your prayers to a more personal level. I don't care if driver's see me talking. With all the bluetooths that people are using, I figure that it's not so unusual anymore.

I digressed, again. That's how my thought processing work. Sorry.

My point is, that when I am immersed into hearing Pastor Greg Laurie's messages (and he is a great preacher), I get a double dose of peace. I get to see the beautiful ocean bay... the coast of California that is a mecca for tourism. I feel such gratitude that I am driving to my job (and that I have a job), and I cannot help but count my blessings. I feel the presence of the Lord in me-- and that is what gives me peace.

It saddens me when me when I see people who have collapsed around their troubles. I want, desperately, for them to know the kind of peace that my love and faith in Jesus has given me! I wish that I could find a way to share my testimony of how I came to be a believer 12 years ago. But, so many people's hearts are shut down-- they've been hardened by hypocritical Christians... judgmental Christians or churches that left them cold. I am still working on my 1 minute testimony, but it still needs a lot of honing.

Today, I am feeling like I can exhale. There is nothing earth shattering to report on B. He is at our house, his strep throat is healed. He has an intake appointment, today, to see about starting a drug outpatient program that is a year long.

I am staying focused on my job, and to take care of me. I don't want to wallow in self-pity and I certainly don't want to whine. If anything, I pray that God will show me how to use my personal experience with my son's addiction to help others. We need support groups. Way back in this blog, I mention my attending some Al-Anon meetings. I have nothing bad to say about this wonderful organization. It just didn't speak to my heart. I could not relate to alcohol, since my son doesn't drink. He uses opiates.

I have attended some church recovery support groups. I've met some lovely people and I've enjoyed beautiful worship music (I just love to sign off key and worship the Lord). I've sat through small group meetings-- in the AA format of "Hi, I'm Debby" "Hi, Debby", echo the folks in my support group. The rules are simple-- don't use last name, no cross talk and if we start to cry, no one is supposed to hand you a tissue or hug you. The theory is that we need to be allowed to cry and release our feelings. We also cannot talk to a specific person. We can only sit and listen to the person who is speaking.

This is not the best format for me-- because I'm not a whiner. Many times, the topics that I hear people sharing in group is the same broken record... week after week--and, often, I feel as though people who really need to talk and share are either too shy (I'm very observant of people) or someone else is monopolizing time by droning on and on... I have compassion for folks who are suffering from sex addiction, gambling addiction, food addiction and anger problem. But, I really desire to focus on drug addiction-- trying to better understand everything that I can.

There isn't a Nar-Anon in my area. I've looked, believe me. So, the next best thing is for me to start one, right? I know I could do it, but that's where I have a tendency to overdo things. I need to restrain myself.

My husband and I are seeing a licensed therapist whom we think is doing a pretty good job with us. She listens and she offers sensible advice. That's all I can ask for.

I attend a church that feels like my extended family. My pastor is a dynamic speaker and he teaches the Word. I learn something new, every time. I absolutely adore working at the high school ministry at my church. The Youth Pastor is wonderful. I enjoy my small group of freshman girls, and getting to know them. Twice a year, I am a leader for a 5-week small group called "Honest to God". It's pretty heavy. The questions are deep. We cry. We laugh. We hug. We connect.

THAT's the kind of support group that I need! I am a hugger, a weeper, an encourager. But, I'm not a whiner and I try not to complain. I can't say that I NEVER complain, but I try to stop myself when I become aware of it. My mother was the Queen of Complaining and Guilt!

The strength in me, that people sense, is that I am a very determined kind of woman. Sometimes, as I've expressed before, I am misunderstood. I am not deliberately controlling. But I need to feel in control of myself. I like to have a plan.

I suggest to many of you who are struggling with a situation similar to mine (someone you love is addicted to drugs)-- you do need to find some kind of support. Your friends or loved ones, who are NOT experience what you are can only bring you the support of love. My advice is that you seek information on drug addiction from professionals. I try to post links that have been helpful to me.

To those of you who have a loved one who HAS a loved one with addiction-- the best support that you can give them is to let them know that you care about them. Offering advice, if you have not done adequate research on addiction can risk making the parent feel guilty or inadequate. Just love on them, and pray for them!

Journal your thoughts! This blog is my journal. I could, with one click, make this blog private and close this to the public. I choose to share my story.

I have toyed with the idea of starting a forum... a group that is online. Feel free to email me.privately ( if you would want to do this. Maybe we can support one another in a more private arena. I am praying for parents of addicts and for the kids who are lost in their addiction.

My break is over and I need to get back to work.

May the peace of Christ be with you. I also wanted to share a scripture that is easy to find. Just dial 9-1-1, when you are in times of trouble.

PSALM 91:1

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. [a]

2 I will say [b] of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The addiction is bigger than us and an update

My husband reads my blog. It's a weird feeling, in a way. Yet, I am posting my personal story for anyone to read-- people I do not know, are reading my story. When I write, I am allowing my feelings--in the moment-- to manifest through my speedy typing on a keyboard. Sometimes, my thoughts might appear as a very lengthy read. To others, I am honored to receive private emails and comments-- from people who tell me how touched they are or how they are experiencing what I am going through. I read every single comment and email, and I appreciate them.

I'm not a professional writer, by any means. I'm not a drug counselor, a psychiatrist, nor a licensed therapist. I am, simply, a mother who has a son who is addicted to opiates. I am also a mother, who is divorced from my son's father (for about 12 years now) and who remarried three years ago. Corny as it sounds, I am serious when I say I married a good person. I'm not writing this, because I assume that "C" is reading this. I also know that his sister is reading this. I married someone who remained a bachelor into what many people would consider to the "The Stone Age". He has no ex wives in his life and he has no children. Me? I have ex-husbands and one son. Still, he accepted me having received full disclosure from me of my past. I have been completely honest with "C" because he is the kind of person that I feel safe with.

Something that C and I have in common is that both of us were in relationships with addicts. I had a very brief "drive by" marriage between my divorce from B's father and my marriage to C. I don't like to talk about that chapter in my life, very much, because I feel so stupid. I did not know that this person was an addict and an alcoholic. C's relationship with this woman lasted for many years. Neither one of us knew our "significant others" were using...he thought she was sober... I was never disclosed by "him" that he had a drug and alcohol problem. I never knew his dirty little secret, until after I married him and he bled me financially dry and stole from me.

That's more than I meant to share, but so be it...

Ultimately, both of us bailed out of our prior relationships. Neither once of us wanted the addictive behavior to be in our lives, anymore. I could only endure the alcohol and drug use for a year-- he stuck through it all much longer than that. Consequently, he knows more about addiction that I do. Both of us had vowed to ourselves that we would never get involved with an addict again.

So, once again, addiction has come back into our lives...his life. I feel so bad about it. It's not my fault, but I still feel a lot of guilt.

At the time that "C" and I were engaged, he wasn't living with me. B was living with me, full time. I was unaware that B was using drugs the entire time that C and I dated, and became engaged and then married, over the course of 2 years. "C" and I went to see a counselor to ask for advice on how to blend as a family. Our counselor told us that the best role that my husband should strive for was to become an adult role model to B... a "mentor". We were told that this would be a very slow process. B had me all to himself for several years, so we knew that there would be some resentment. The process has, indeed, been slow. Today, I think that my son has begun to notice what a good person it is that I am married to. I think that B is seeing C as a good adult role model. Still, C has been fooled by my son's lies. Understandably, C is not a happy camper.

What I adore about my husband is that he is so dependable. He's the kind of person that you can count on to follow through on his promises. He pays his bills on time. He's a hard working person and treats me in such a kind and generous way. That I think he's the most handsome man I've every met is mine to own. He has finally shown me what a healthy relationship is supposed to be.

My greatest fear is that my son's addiction could tear at our marriage. Right now, I don't feel as though we are in trouble. But, I also know that our marriage is as vulnerable as anyone else's. I have a tendency to become controlling, when I am feeling pressure. I hate it, and I fight it. What most people don't understand is that my wounded child, within (from physical and bad relationships with men) can come out in me. I catch myself lacking patience, or being short with my words. If I'm not careful, I can easily slip into my micro-managing persona and asking "did you do this" or, I need this...NOW. My voice takes on a tone of authority, and less of compassion. I don't even know that I'm doing it, until my son or husband points it out. Then, I feel bad. I don't deny it, and I try to be aware of it.

What people don't understand is that this has become my coping mechanism. I feel more secure with structure and systems in my life. I'm not a free-spirit, if that's a more understandable term.

I'm writing about myself, and this blog should be about my son. But, today, it is important for me to try and sort out what role, if any, I can play in helping my son-- while trying to protect my precious marriage.

I have not had a chance to talk to C. That he tells me he is reading my blog brings me mixed emotions. I feel a little exposed and vulnerable, to him. I know that he's a very private person, and he must worry that someone he knows will read this blog. As for me, I'm a very open person. I will not live my life in shame or secrecy about my son's addiction. I don't like TALKING about it to people-- in fact, I do not want to repeat his story over and over again.

"Read my blog! Try to understand!", are some of the thoughts that go through my head, when people call with the purpose of talking to me. I don't want to talk. I know that sounds rude, but I would rather that people read my blog.

I appreciate when people write to me about their own story, or offer me advice. Sometimes, the advice I receive comes from a person who is not a parent or an addict. I know that they mean well, so I do not allow myself to take offense.

OK, I'm beginning to see that today's posting is getting very lengthy. I apologize to those of you who prefer to read in shorthand. But, today, I need to share my feelings.

Let me fill in what happened since yesterday:

I called my brother, A. He was home, taking a day off. I asked if B could spend time with him. I'm not sure why I called him, but I had hoped that my son would be able to unload to his Uncle, whom he adores. So, I drove B to his uncle's house, just a few minutes away from where I work. At that time, I didn't fully realize that B was in the stages of early withdrawal. I will post more on that another day. To those of you who do not know-- withdrawal from opiates is horrible. I have been told, by addicts who have gone through this, that it is pure agony. It is painful, sweating, vomiting, is hell.

I'm getting sidetracked again-- I just spend 1/2 hour talking to a student who is failing all of her classes. I strongly suspect that she is "using". I made her cry, because I drew all of my mother instincts and I connected with her. She is crying out for help, and her mother is clueless that she has straight F's and she is cutting classes. Hello? This girl told me that she thought nobody cared. I tried to give her a pep talk. I want to call her mom (and I know her) to tell her "Wake up! You've put your daughter in five different schools in three years! Changing schools is not doing to change your daughter! Pay attention to her!"
Changing rehab centers isn't going to fix addicts, either, I thought to myself.

Sorry. Back to B's update:

I picked B up from his uncle's house, when I got off work. The three of us had dinner. B said he was hungry, but he was unable to finish his meal. I had to take my night class, so I picked B up from his uncle's around 8:00pm. On the way home, we talked. I listened more, and I let him talk (a newly acquired and vital skill for parents).

He said a lot of things. Are they truth or hopeful promises? Am I being manipulated? I think that they are hopeful truths.

B has an intake appointment on Thursday afternoon. It is for a one year outpatient program, where he is randomly tested and has to attend regular meetings. He believes that this is the program for him. We shall see if his insurance will cover it. He knows that I cannot and will not pay out of my own pocket. I simply cannot afford it.

He asked if he could stay at our house to detox. He has suboxone, to help. He also needs to get better from his strep throat. I have agreed to allow him that. What else could he do? Detox on the couch of house that is inhabited by addicts? I think not.

C was asleep when I got home. I checked my email and then fell into a deep sleep.

This morning, I could see that C looks very stressed. It scares me when I see him this way.

"The addiction is bigger than us", is what he said to me-- with an exasperated tone.

Yes, it is. No matter what the books say... no matter what logic says... there are no fool proof solutions that are universal.

Someone wrote an email to me, yesterday, that echoed exactly what I said to my husband. I said that that "B is a 20 year old inside of a 15 year old mind". Tough Love is not the absolute answer.

C and I need to find balance in how to deal with this horrible situation. We need to find how to give my son a lot of love and hope. We need to learn how to detect the BS Meter. Right now, we cannot focus on his academics or job. We need to find HOW to help my son to help himself.

B is the only person who can be ready to desperately DESIRE sobriety. He has to show to himself and to God and to us-- that he means what he says.

It will not happen overnight.

The vigil of sobriety begins...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What does a mother do?

So, last night B called and asked if I could give him a ride to his car. His car is parked at the repair shop. He said he wanted to park it in a place where he could sleep.


In a nano second, my inner voice told me to forgo stopping at my sports center for my water aerobics class. I told him I was heading to where he was (40 minutes drive) and we would “talk”.

When I spotted him, he was without a jacket and it was cold outside.

“What happened to your jacket?”, I asked.

“Dunno. I think I lost it.”

“What happened to your things?”

“I stashed my backpack in some bushes”.

I was reminded of the book, “My Beautiful Boy”.

So this is what it’s come to? My own beautiful boy… my only son… my child that I so desperately wanted, has been wandering around in a seedy section of town, hanging out in a park where shootings are known to happen…

What would you do? Seriously. I’m asking you moms—what would you do?

I had already called my husband to tell him what to expect. He was very reluctant to help B. I understand. B isn’t his own son. He cannot love him the way that I do. He loves me, but my son is simply MY son.

My son looked sick (he still has strep throat), very tired and he was happy to be warm.

The shortened version from his is:

“C” charged my son his last $20.00 that I gave him and bought beer with it. She’s an alcoholic and (I would guess) a heroin addict, in recovery. B has been taking her to a methadone clinic while he had his car.

Sweet (sarcasm, here).

B slept on a kitchen floor, in a tiny old house with cockroaches. How “bottom” is that?

In the few times I’ve spoken with her, she talks like a woman who has been through some pretty rough patches in life. She is loud and … she sounds like some who is/has used drugs. B said that “C” flies off the handle and it was brutal staying with her.

Thank you, Jesus. Have you caused this suffering for my son’s benefit?

B went on to say how scared he was. He realized that he had no place to go. He was afraid of sleeping in the park, or under a stairwell. My son, who prefers to wear ironed Polo shirts and designer jeans and expensive shoes… he was seen just a glimpse of the kind of life that is in store for those who use drugs. Untreated addiction leads to people losing everything—possessions, family, marriages, and hope.

I brought B home and the three of us talked. I don’t know what to say. I am so shattered by what happened this weekend. I want to trust B, but I cannot.

My husband does not want B to stay with us. He’s right. Yet, there is something that makes this very hard for me—actually, two things—my son is sick with strep throat, and he’s a diabetic. B said that what scared him is that he had to panhandle yesterday. He realized that if he had a low blood sugar, he had no way to get food inside him.

But my husband is telling me that B cannot come home until he is clean. That’s what I had to tell B, right as he was falling asleep. He says that he understands.

I don’t. This is what addiction has done. It tears people’s lives apart.

Right now, B is sleeping in my car, that is parked in front of the school where I work. He had to wake up and leave with me at 6:30am. I bought him some juice, water and Starburst candies for low blood sugar. I gave him enough money for a bus pass. He plans to go to our local community college. He still wants to register for college.

His phone is dead and his charger is at “C’s”. That’s a bummer, because it’s our only lifeline to him.

As I went into my work building, B asked if he could stay in my car to fill out the school paperwork. 30 minutes later, I went to the car to check if had gone. I opened the unlocked door and his body popped up from the back seat. It scared both of us.

That’s all I have to report.

I could really use some parental wisdom here. What can I do?

Monday, January 26, 2009

A risky prayer to God

The toughest time for me is right before my bedtime-- 9:00pm. That's when I really feel my son's absence. I'm half-expecting for him to walk into the front door with his "Hi, Mama" and his big smile. Usually, he makes a bee line for the fridge to search for a drink and to see what he can eat.

Instead, his room is dark and the house feels empty. That's when my mind starts to rewind to reminiscing about the younger years of living with B. Sometimes, I smile, when I think of my young boy who was such a sweet kid. If I'm not careful, I think back to times when the "signs" were there that something was amiss, in my son. It's so hard to be the parent of a young drug addict. You aren't sure if their belligerent behavior is just part of being a teenager. Teens are sorely lacking in organizational skills. My son is one of them. If I didn't know better, I'd think that he has ADD. He's just unfocused, but brilliantly smart.

I am sleeping okay, though my mother came to visit me in my dreams. She has a way of showing up, when I'm feeling stressed. Mother's seem to have that instinct, because I can usually sense when things are wrong with my son.

On my way to work, is a time when I listen to my daily devotional on my iPod and it is my time to pray out loud. There are a few prayers that can be very dangerous-- one, is to ask God to give us patience. That's when he will put the slowest driver on the road in front of us...or the sales clerk who moves as slow as molasses. My other "dangerous" prayer is a powerful one-- and I said it this morning:
Lord, I pray that you will put enough pain and suffering into my son's life, that he will no longer want to live the life that he is living at this moment. I pray that you will send a messenger into his life, from you, and that he will cry out to you for help from his addiction. I ask that you will give me strength, courage and wisdom to handle whatever pain or suffering that your will chooses to put into his life.
Whew, that is a dangerous and risky prayer. But, it is a prayer from the mother of an addict, who knows that I have no power to help my son with his addiction. Only my son has the power to choose sobriety. He has to hit bottom. The more I run to help him, the longer I prolong my son tiring of his life. This is harder than you can imagine, because I am wired to nurture people who are hurting. Please don't label me an "enabler". I love my son, and I hate seeing him in pain. I'm sick of the term "Tough Love". "Tough Love" doesn't work for every kid. I'm the one who has to "tough love" myself. I have to let my son be left to his own devices. He is 20 years old with no life skills. It sucks.

Today's report:

B called me around 9:30, this morning. I have a busy job and zero privacy. B asked if I could buy some milk, because his friend "C" was mad that he drank it all.

Here we go again.

He started to ask me if he should drink milk with strep throat, and I could hear "C" talking in her very loud voice. "C" got on the phone and starting talking to me...but I was very uncomfortable, since I have no privacy and I don't want to bring my problems to my job. B grabbed the phone back and started to tell me that he found an outpatient program. I told him I could not talk, and reminded him of when my lunch break would be.

Well, at least he's calling me, I thought.

Text messaging is a great tool. It's a good thing that I upgraded my cellphone to have a keyboard. I cannot text from a keypad the way that teens do. So, I the text messaging began:

Me: Just to let you need to do all the work to get into treatment. There is no money left, so it needs to be your responsibility. You have insurance.
I can bring you some food, but I cannot give you money. I need to let you decide where to go. I love you.

B: I already called a place here in town. I'm waiting 4 their financial 2 call me. I dnt want want money but "C" has been treating me like sh** and charging me rent. Wow!

ME: This is the problem, isn't it? I am hoping that you will see how unmanageable addiction has left you. All I can hope is that you get inpatient and that you want to stay clean. There are drugs in there, but you have to want sobriety enough. How can she charge you rent with no money? Don't answer. Just wondering.

B: The $20 you gave me and I had 18 she said it was for feeding me even tho i ate my own groceries and she ylled at me 2 have you replace the milk we brought.

ME: You will need to find a way to get along. I am praying for you. It sucks to be at the mercy of people. Is God trying to get your attention? It breaks my heart. I'm sorry.

The text messaging has stopped.

This is the crazy cycle of addiction. My son panics and runs to me, or his dad, to bail him out. I instinctively want to kiss him and make it all better.

Then, I stop myself. I have to let my son suffer, and it's tearing me apart.

He has to hit bottom. God is in control.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What to say to a parent like me

I know that my blog was pretty long and wordy, yesterday. Believe it, or not, I wrote the Reader's Digest Condensed version of what the last three days have been like.


I have received personal emails, comments and phone calls from friends and loved ones.

Thank you.

Some of you, with only the best of intentions, written or said that you don't know what to say. I understand. I really do. I don't expect for anyone to say something so profound that I will feel healed. I appreciate your concern, very much. Phone calls aren't my preferred method of contact, right now. I don't particularly want to TALK about my son, and all the sordid details. Can you understand that? If you would take the time to post a comment--just a "Hi, Debby, I want you to know that I am praying for you" means a lot to me. It lifts my spirit more than you can know. What I'm trying to say is this-- I am writing about my feelings with total candor. One day, I hope that my son will read my blog so that he might understand that he is not the only person who is suffering because of his addiction. It is my deepest hope that my blog will end with my son's own entry, stating that he is "saved"...that he is sober and that he will fight as hard as he can to stay clean.

It's like hearing that someone has died. What do you say to those who are left behind? I used to feel awkward about that-- until my mother died. I realized, then, that I was perfectly okay talking about my mother. In fact, I welcomed hearing people talking about my mother.

For the parent of an addict, what we don't want to feel is alienated. If anything, we long to talk with other parents of addicts. I appreciate hearing from other addicts, too. That is what my blog has evolved into being to me-- a way to meet people who share my story. Or, meeting someone like Dr. Junig who is not only a drug addict in recovery, but someone who fully understands the medical aspects of addiction.

What do you write or say to me? Just one line, telling me that you are praying for us means so much to me. You don't have to avoid contacting me, because you feel you have no advice to give. Every family and every addict has a different story. What works for one person, doesn't necessarily work for another. Advice isn't necessarily what I'm needing. Just knowing that there are people out there, who share in my coping with having an addict in the family.

I refuse to allow myself to feel ashamed of my son. I don't. I love my son, unconditionally. I am not ashamed of him. I do not want my son out of my life. Yesterday, my son said that he'd be better out of my life. That breaks my heart.

Today, I am still trying to digest all that has happened. I am trying to sort out my feelings, and trying to direct my anger in the right direction. I hate drugs, and my hatred and anger is directed at addiction.

I keep hearing the cliche that my son "made his own choices". There is some truth in that, but I doubt that my son has CHOSEN to become an addict. I believe that whatever unresolved hurt and anger that B has inside him has found that drugs help him to escape the darkness that is in his soul.

My son has not chosen to turn his life into a train wreck-- thought, that's where he's headed. Rather, I think that my son chose to jump onto a runaway train and he doesn't know how to get off. He's afraid to take the all important first step-- literally. He's in denial of his problem. He still believes that he can do this on his own.

Whether B uses suboxone, methadone or goes into a high faluttin' rehab center (that we cannot afford), he will never find sobriety until he desires it enough to fight for his life. Right now, he's chipping-- he is juggling suboxone for a few days, and then surrendering to smoking heroin so that he can find that "perfect place" that he says his high gives him.

Chasing the dragon...

For me, I think of him constantly. As I sat through church, I listened to a message called "Hurt People Hurt People" and I jotted down pages of notes. My son is hurting, but I cannot help him to heal his pain. He blames others for his problems. I believe, personally, that he needs to own up to his baggage. He needs to claim it. He needs to take responsibility for the hurts and disappointments in his life that he has collapsed around. He needs to find that blaming others for his problems is not working.

Still, I miss him. There is a void in my home. His room looks like a guest room again. All of his belongings are boxed and put away. Still, I feel his presence and absence.

My son has deprived me of being what I love most-- a nurturing mom. My meal plan still sits on my refrigerator door... meals that I wanted to make to please my family. Now, it's back to just the two of us. I love being a wife, but it's not the same as being a mom. Those of you who have kids, understand what I am talking about.

Last night, B sent a text message to me. He wrote that he loved me, and thanked me for everything. He said that he had taken his insulin, and antibiotics and that he was going to sleep.

Right now, I have no idea what he's doing or how he is doing. I need to leave him alone, to sort through things, on his own. If he paid his drug dealer, I do not know. If he lied and used the money to buy more drugs-- only God knows.

If you and I have never met, but you are reading my blog-- any kind of comment is precious to me. Please be kind, though. Negative comments that criticize how I am dealing with my son's addiction... they hurt. I still read them, think about them...but they affect me.

I might sound like a strong woman, but I have a lot of insecurities. There is a still a wounded child inside me.

I will blog a lot more often than I have in the last few weeks. Subconsciously, I so believed that my son was clean and that he had a handle on his addiction. I was wrong. All along, B has been living a lie and saying just the right things to try and please me.

I love my son and I am not ashamed of him. I hurt for my son. I do not want my son to die nor do I want my son to end up in jail.

I try in my Higher Power-- my Abba Father. God-- the creator of the Universe. I pray that what is happening, right not, is all part of God's plan. Sometimes, God has to allow us to suffer for many reasons... to draw us nearer to Him, to build our trust in Him, to build our character or to bring us to our knees... where we might finally cry out and surrender to Him.

2 Corinthians 12 (New International Version)

7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

If I don't call for three days, you'll know I'm dead

Before I explain my title for today, let me say that my son is gone. He has left my home.

I gave B his antibiotic at 8am, this morning. He snarled at me, that he wanted to sleep. A few hours later, we told B that we were going into town to get groceries. He asked for some hot soup.

C and I drove B's car to the repair shop. B admitted to me that he had fallen asleep at the wheel in a parking lot and ran over a concrete barrier. Most likely, he has broken the steering linkage. In a way, it seems like God's blessing-- with B not having a car, he cannot drive to find drugs.

When we returned, having been gone maybe an hour, B was dressed and in the backyard. He seemed alert and fine. He summoned me into his bedroom and started telling me "Mom, I've been using since the day I left rehab (in October). He started to spill the beans, but I suggested that the three of us (my husband, C) join in with this discussion.

B admitted that not only did he start using as soon as he left rehab, but his roommate (from the treatment center) told him that they could make all kinds of money selling drugs in the tenderloin district of San Francisco. B said that he was dealing pills to support his drug habit.

Nice, huh...

So, C and I asked him what he wanted to do. B said that "I know that I'm out of here, and I'm leaving today". We told him that we wanted him to stay long enough to heal with his strep throat and to get his insurance squared away. We told him that we were not throwing him out, but that we wanted him to go into rehab and then he could come back to live with us. He responded that the last rehab didn't do a bit of good, so this time would be a waste.

I cannot write every detail down, as this discussion lasted for a couple of and on, and in bits and pieces. The highlights that I will share is that B does not feel ready to get clean. In other words, he has not gone low enough that he has to reach up from touching bottom.

This was my turning point where I realized that I had to let my son leave. Letting him stay with us, without my son wanting to get professional help, was pointless.

I have a lot of raw feelings to blog about, but that will come later. For my family members and friends, who want to be kept updated, I am sharing what I want you to know.

Drug addiction is very dirty business. It means that you need a source to get the drug that you want. It means that the addict needs to find a source to get the money to buy the drugs that their addiction demands that they do. Like it or not, drug addicts will resort to just about anything to support their habit. In my son's case, he deals. He's been selling his prescription anxiety meds and suboxone to buy black tar heroin. It's his drug of choice, now.

What I'm trying to say is that my son owes his dealer for 6 grams of heroin. That's $360.00, total. Where we live, there is a gang problem. There have been 12 shootings and 6 deaths since the first of this year. These are all gang related shootings. Gangs sell drugs. That's just how it is. Gangs kill each other to protect their turf. My son owed a gang member money for drugs he smoked. B's cellphone was ringing off the hook. I could hear B pleading with his dealer to give him one more day to come up with the money.

What does a mother do? Am I enabling my son, by letting him suffer the consequences? Am I going to risk my son being shot or stabbed or beaten up, because he owes money to a drug dealer? What do you think? Is this tough love? Am I making a mistake in helping him? B never asked me for the money. He knows that I won't give it to him.

I prayed about it.

I told my son that I would give him the money (from his trust account) under ONE condition-- that the money is given to a third party who pays off the dealer. My son cannot have the money.

Scroll back to a couple of days ago-- a woman I refer to as "C". This is a woman that my son met, at the time that she was homeless. Like many homeless people, her story is one living a hard life. Yes, she once used drugs. She's been clean for many years. BUT, she was hit by a car and lots of bad things happened to her. She lost everything. Many times, in my own prayers of thanks to the Lord, I thank Him that I have never been homeless, jobless nor known starvation. I have compassion for homeless people, rather than disdain. I believe that homeless people have a story to tell.

"C" offered to let my son come and stay in her small ramshackle home, in the downtown area of where I live. For those of you who do not know where I live-- I am in a rural area. I live in a gated community, in a small but lovely home, that I rent from a cousin. It is my little "bubble" of safety where I live-- there is no danger with gangs where I live. Only 10 minutes drive, down the freeway, is the center of the city where I live. It's relatively safe, but there is an East Side. I don't go there, and I have always avoided it. I don't belong there, and I'd stick out like a sore thumb. "C" lives far from that area, and very close to a public high school. It's not a bad area, but there is more crime in that area. It's a low rent section. So, that is where B is right now.

"C" called me from B's cellphone as I stayed parked outside her house. She's embarrassed to have me in. She must think I'm a rich mom, which I am not. Anyway, she confirmed that B had given her the $360.00 in cash. She said that she, and a male friend, will pay off the blood money to his dealer tomorrow. She told me that I had made the right decision, because B could very well be killed or injured for the money. Dealers don't haggle and they don't play games.

As I sat outside the house, I felt so dirty. There were two cops parked in front, and I immediately felt like I shouldn't be there. They drove away, and I could not help feeling such sorrow for the sordid life that my son's drug addiction has drawn him into.

I watched B carry his sleeping bag and backpack into "C"s little house. His eyes looked sad. I could not cry. I don't know what to think, really. I think I'm still in shock.

"If I don't call for three days, you'll know I'm dead."

That's what my son said to me. How do you think that made me feel? At that very moment, I thought of God.

As I drove away, I heard B whistling and racing towards me. He said that "C" asked him to buy some cat food and could I give him a ride. I drove him to a grocery store and I bought a few things for "C". It's my "thank you" for... I'm not sure, you know. I bought a few things for B...drinks, canned soup. I gave him $20.00. He said "Mom, I miss you already. I know I'm going to regret my decision to leave".

As I walked into my front door, C was looking at me to see how I was doing. "I'm hungry" is all I could think. I had not eaten since early this morning.

How am I feeling right now? This might sound strange-- but I am feeling relieved. For the last two days, seeing my son so loaded on drugs, I feel as though my peaceful home had been violated. I don't want drugs in my house. My home is my sanctuary.

I walked into my son's room and looked at his crumpled bed...his shoes on the floor... throat lozenges and empty bottles of soda. I looked in his closet, at his clothes he left behind.

I am feeling an emotion similar to the day that my mother died. I remember when the hearse drove away and I had to walk into my mother's bedroom. The oxygen machine motor had been turned off. Her bedding was there, with her imprint still on it. I looked at her lipstick on her dresser. She was gone.

My son is gone.

I am beginning to grieve. C and I had such high hopes that B was going to start college, and get a part-time job. My son was so excited to be home, and that he was given a fresh start by us.

But, the heroin has won my son's soul, for now. The reality is, if my son does not admit to himself that he is powerless in his addiction to opioids, his life will always be unmanageable. He will remain jobless and possibly homeless. He will, ultimately, end up in jail, institutionalized or dead. It's what his treatment program drilled into him. He knows that. I know that.

Once again, my blog is how I am going to journal how my son is doing.

He plans to detox, on his own.

Heavenly Father, you brought my son into this world. You trusted me to raise my son, and to teach him about you. I have made my own mistakes, and I am sorry. I know that you have forgiven me for my sins. If anything, I believe that my son has accepted Jesus into his heart as his savior. My son is lost in his addiction. I give my son to you, Lord. I trust that You are watching over him. I pray that you will give me, his father, his stepfather and his friends and loved ones...the wisdom to help B according to your perfect will.

Thank you, God, for your mercy on my son. It is nothing short of your miracles, that my son is alive. Thank you, God, for all that you have done and what you will do.

In Jesus' Name

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Mother's Day with an Addict in Relapse-Afternoon Edition

It's 4:00 and I've been at work since 11:00am. B's friend "L" showed up at my house. She went into his bedroom and shut the door. She emerged a few minutes later and said that B was going to get dressed and go for coffee with her.

B did not seem angry with me, at all. If anything, he looked confused. He's definitely getting his brain to come back into focus, but he's still very groggy. He left with her and I told him that I love him. "I love you, too, mom" he replied.

I just spoke with "L". She says that B has been sleeping at her place and that they've talked. "L" is like me-- a non-addict who loves an addict. She says that B wants to clear some misconceptions with me about what I found and what I know. I don't mean to sound jaded, but I cannot see how my son can explain what an oxycontin pill was doing in his wallet... or what crumpled foil, with traces of smoked heroin was doing in his bedroom trashcan...nor why he was so frantically needing to sell his golf clubs for a fraction of their value... nor why we found a small bottle of urine stashed and hidden. He's using. There will be a urine test given to him, and we will make sure that it's in our bathroom and that he is only wearing boxer shorts. We're on to that trick.

How am I feeling now? Very tired. I had to focus on my job, and I was able to maintain my smile and to be courteous to everyone around me. I don't want to burden my colleagues with my personal problems. That's unprofessional and I love my job.

Back to my son-- I can't tell you exactly what's next. Rehab, definitely. It's our condition for him to return to us. He has to test clean. No exceptions. He must maintain testing clean. Now, I need to add that he agrees to searches of his car and personal items, at any time.

I hate this. All I can think of is how miserable my son must feel. Undoubtedly, he feels really bad about what I found out. He's busted. But, more than that, my heart grieves for how unmanageable my son's life has become. I cannot understand the depth of what it means to be addicted to drugs (or alcohol). I cannot truly understand, but I can only observe that my son's addiction is the ONLY thought that he can focus on. He wants his next fix. Even suboxone didn't help.

Suboxone is not a magic pill. I knew that, but I was so convinced (by my son) that taking a daily dose of suboxone would make sure that my son doesn't use opiates. Anyone who believes that is a fool-- and I was one of them.

There are ways that addicts can "chip" by taking suboxone, then going off it enough days so that when they get their opiate fix that they get that "high" that they want. It is that "high" that my son makes him feel that he has no worries or problems in his life.

Therein, lies the problem. My son says that the only time he feels safe and happy is when he's loaded.

There is the face of the beast-- the demon of addiction that lies and steals the souls of those we love.

More to come...

A Mother's Day with an Addict in relapse - MorningEdition

As I type this, my son is laying on the couch, snoring and very sick. He has a really bad case of strep throat, compounded with bronchitis. I am unable to go to work, obviously. I do not feel it is a smart idea for me to leave my son at home, alone. I will try to blog on today's progress, so please check in througout the day.

How am I doing? I am a wreck. This whole situation feels surreal, and I feel as though I just got news that someone I love just died. I am trying to think calmly and rationally. I cannot cry, though I know that would help to let go of my pain. My husband and I got sporadic sleep, last night. I slept in clothes, in case there was an emergency. We left our bedroom door wide open, and I left the kitchen lights on. I had to clean up B's bathroom, and to put towels around the toilet and sink. He was so out of it, last night, that he urinated in the bathroom sink, all over the floor and toilet.

The best that I can conclude is that my son has 70 of his anti-anxiety pills missing out of 75. This is a prescription that was filled on Wednesday evening. I found a fresh prescription, from a different doctor, that was filled on Thursday. That prescription was untouched. My son drank his entire bottle of cough syrup, to help with his bronchitis. Obviously, B did not tell the doctor or pharmacist that he's an addict. From the web, I think that the combination of both those drugs left my son in a total state of incoherence.

How can I describe to someone what it feels like to see your son, staggering and barely unable to keep his balance? What comfort can someone give me, if they could see my son trying to talk but all that comes out is slurred gibberish, that cannot be understood at all? All I could do was to soothe him, like when he was a little baby and he had fallen down and hurt himself. I could only struggle to keep my voice soft and encouraging him. I am sure that he has no memory of what he said, or I said.

Throughout the night, B would come out of his room to pee. A few times, I'd hear him in the kitchen and I had to leap out of bed to help him. I found him stirring a pot of water on the stove, but there was no food in it. He was screaming in pain, saying that his throat hurt. Finally, I lured him back to his bed to "relax" and he'd pass out again and snore. Several times, he'd yell out in pain and cuss. I'd jump out of bed to check on him, and he'd be snoring again.

And, so, the vigil kept on through the night. My husband, bless his loving heart, got up at 2am and I could hear him talking to B. B was asking for his cough syrup, and C had to show him the empty bottle. B seemed to be slightly more coherent, but he was still very groggy.

When my alarm went off at 5:30, we were both in a very deep sleep. It was hard for me to not feel my husband roll over and put his arms around me, as he always does. Instead, he was laying on his back, and I felt so bad at how exhausted he must be. I feel so bad that my husband has inherited my burden. I know that he doesn't blame me, but I am concerned that our marriage could suffer from this.

I am, of course, concerned about my time away from my job. I try not to bring my personal problems to work. I've been open about my son's situation, but I try not to let it affect my work performance. I'm fortunate that my supervisor has been compassionate, but I cannot take a lot of time off to take care of my son.

Last night, I did what any loving and concerned parent would do. I got my son's cellphone and I began to search for phone numbers. I wanted to call "key" people in my son's life. I thought of a woman named "C" who has become B's "Foster Mom". She is a woman, around my age, who is a recovering heroin addict. I wanted to call B's two closest friends, whom I know. I also wanted to find his sponsor-- because B has been spending a lot of time with him, and he speaks highly of "D".

I spent a lot of time, on the phone, talking to these folks. I know that my son might become very angry at me for doing this. I will take that chance. My phone calls led me to the truth-- his friend, "Z" admitted to me that the two of them were smoking black tar heroin again. "Z" also told me that his mother threw "Z" out of the house the day before, when she discovered the tell tale aluminum foil with black streaks. I prayed for "Z" on the phone, and I called his mother, at his request. We were able to talk, at length, and offered to support one another.

I was unable to contact B's sponsor, but I got through to his fiancee', "L". "L" offered to come to my house and to take B to his sponsor. I should get a call from her by 8:30, this morning. Last night, it seemed like a good idea. BUT-- B is very sick and he's out of it. I don't know if this is going to work. If it doesn't, I have to call in to work and stay at home with my son. I cannot leave him alone. It is far too risky. I plan to tow his car in to a repair shop (he damaged the steering linkage two days ago, in another accident). There are a lot of phone calls for me to make. I need to find a detox center for him. My son needs a one year program. I cannot afford to pay for it, so I am needing a miracle from God.

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable

How It Works

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called willpower becomes practically non-existent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.
- A.A. Big Book, p. 24 (Substitute your own addiction for drink if your addiction is different than alcohol)

I had to cut and paste this in from

I realize that my son truly has become unmanageable. He has sold his beloved television and was just about ready to sell his golf clubs. That's what his addiction to heroin does. He'll sell things for a fraction of it's value, to buy a balloon of black tar heroion to smoke. It's so pathetic...his addiction to opiates has taken over his life again-- or did it every leave? I don't have the heart to tell my son that his car insurance canceled his coverage, as of March 9th. He had two accidents within four weeks, last May and June. The DMV has a telephone appointment with him-- and I'm thinking he might have his licensed suspended. He has a speeding ticket to deal with. He doesn't have a job. He might miss school, because (God willing) we will have him in rehab. He is broke.

The depth of all this hasn't sunk in, just yet. I know, that as soon as my son is wide awake, that the devastation that his addiction has left in it's wake will begin. I am anticipating that he will blame me and everyone else for his relapse. I suspect he will break down and cry. No doubt, he will feel as though he let us down. I doubt he'll be willing to be with his sponsor. He is in denial, and has lied to me so carefully, that I believed he was clean. All of it...everything...was a lie. That's what addicts do so well.

B needs to start at Step 1 and admit that he is powerless over his addiction to drugs. His life HAS become unmanageable. As his mother, I love him so much, that I want to help him with his recovery. But, even that has it's limits. Only B can make the choice to do everything that he can to stay clean.

I know that I love him, unconditionally. But, I might be forced to make tough love choices. I don't want to focus on that, right now.

Enough for now... 20 more minutes to go...

Lord, I am crying out to you for your strength, wisdom and to know your Will. My son is a gift from you. He is not mine to keep, but your own child of God. I pray that you will expose the darkness in his life with your perfect, loving and healing light. In the name of your son, Jesus, I ask that you would protect my son from the evil that wants to claim my son. I ask for a Victory in Your Name.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The vigil begins-- B has relapsed and he's a mess

My son is incoherently passed out in his room. He has swallowed a lot of his clonazepam and taken a bottle of his cough meds. He is sick with bronchitis and strep throat.

I found an 80mg Oxy in his wallet and crumpled black tar foil, a straw and a bottle of urine. That explains how he's passed his drug tests with us. He drank the entire bottle of cough syrup he was prescribed. It had codeine in it. Obviously, he did not tell the pharmacist.

He's been using for a month. His friend told me, because he's been using, too.

We have moved his car so that he cannot drive. Tonight. I sleep with one eye open. I am checking ihs breathing and pulse. He's okay, but totally out of it. When he does get up, he is completely incoherent. I went through his entire cellphone and called key people. It is confirmed, that he's been using.

I am in shock. It is so surreal. Obviously, he has to go into rehab.

I can't write anymore, for now.

Please, pray for us.

A Drug Addict's Mother's great fear...

I’m trying to function on very little sleep. The great fear that any parent has is that something terrible would happen to their child. Whether my son is a toddler, 20 years old, or a mature man—he will always be my precious child. I saw that, because B came home last night, and he looked terrible.

What I noticed is that he was talking a mile a minute. This is not a good thing, because that is how he acted when he was loaded. I noticed that his eyes were hooded— like he was about to fall asleep.

He’s sick with a really bad sore throat and his neck glands are swollen. But, what worried me is that he was dropping things… and that is reminiscent of my brief relationship with a man who turned out to be an alcoholic and drug addict. Like Voldemort, in Harry Potter, I don’t mention this man’s name much. He was a very brief drive-by marriage when my son was 10 years old. I shudder, every time I am reminded of that man’s hooded eyes, slurred speech and lack of coordination. I was too na├»ve to recognize that these are strong symptoms of substance abuse. That’s how B seemed to be. I told B that I was really worried about his “symptoms” and he offered to take a drug test.

My husband and I decided to ask for a drug test. But B said he just went to the bathroom and he needed to drink a glass of water. He muttered that he resented that we didn’t trust him. B went to sleep and so we decided to wait until today to drug test him. We figure that, if he’s using, what day we test would not matter.

I am deep in prayer than my fears are unfounded. Oh, how I pray that he is not using opiates again! If he is taking his suboxone (and not selling it), then he can’t use opiates. At least, that’s how suboxone is supposed to work.

But, drug addicts are sneaky and they are master manipulators. They do not hesitate to lie, when confronted with having to speak the truth.

And that’s how my short-lived, miserable re-marriage once was. This was before my son became addicted to drugs.

I will post how things go, as soon as I know.

Please, Lord, protect my son from the demon of addiction that wants to call my son’s name. I pray that B will only desire to resist the temptation of using drugs.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things that surface now and then

How is my son doing? That's such a complicated answer. I don't think he's using, so that's a victory. Maybe I should ask, how am I doing?

It depends on what time it is. Being the mother of an addict AND being the daughter of an organized German mom is a struggle for me. Eventhough my mom has passed away, I see myself becoming more and more like her. I know that both of my brothers read this blog, so don't snort at this! Depending on whom you talk to, my mother could be an overbearing and willful type of
mom--the kind got her own copy on the "Mothers Guide to using Guilt to get Your Way With Your Kids". That's the side of my mother that I have battled to NOT inherit. On the other hand, I see myself become very organized. It's almost scary-- I write everything down, to the point that it's in my Palm Pilot. At the age of 53, I've actually become a pretty responsible person! I pay my bills on time, live within my financial means (Suze Orman would be so proud of me) and I am punctual.

The point of this diatribe is that the way that my son lives his life frustrates me, to no end. I am reminded, every day that I go to work at my high school, that my son is a typical teenager. Never mind that he's twenty years old-- B admits that his years of drug use has stunted his maturity. Most counselors tell me that this is uncommon.

I have to remind myself that I need to be patient with B. I need to realize that I cannot expect my son to be a responsible adult. This is where I struggle. I try, so hard, not to become annoyed when B forgets to do something really important...or when he procrastinates taking care of things like registering for college, and various other things he promises to do. Still, I see that B puts his social life way before focusing on his recovery, looking for a job and getting his student loans handled.

I've been told that I need to keep my expectations of what B can handle to be at a more realistic level. He is so young into recovery. He is so fragile, and I cannot forget that.

I think that there are times when he resents my keen eye. I can't help myself from asking, "did you call so-and-so"? When is the payment on your traffic ticket due? Did you call your doctor for an appointment? Are you testing your blood sugars (and I know that he isn't). I just can't help myself, as hard as I try.

We aren't fighting, so that's a good thing. So far, I am able to admit to my son how I feel. Likewise, B tells me how he feels, and I listen. Like yesterday-- he was gone all day long, and I found his clothes still in the laundry area-- unfolded and in my way. That may seem like a small thing-- but, to me, I am wondering why he can't take care of his responsibilities, first, and then go and hang out with his friends! So, I told B why I felt frustrated and he listened. That's a victory, because the two of us can lock horns. We are both very stubborn people, as was my mom.


There are days when I wonder if he is using. I can't put my finger on it, precisely. I wonder, if he's broke, how is he putting gas in his car? If he's broke, why is he driving around with his friends? I heard him throwing up in the wee hours of the morning. That put terror into my heart. B would throw up when he was using. B says he's just stressed out.

And that's a whole different blog-- how I long for my son to really focus on his Higher Power of the 12-step program. I don't see my son spending any time with the Lord. I can tell, because he is back to fretting and worrying. He says he's working about not having a job and not having money. I have reassured him that, right now, what matters most to us is that he goes to school.

How do you convince someone that having money isn't what will give us joy?

I'm going to stop writing any more, for today.

I know that I need to spend more time with God. I have managed to allow my job, and personal life to become so busy that I am not spending quiet time in the Word. I need to focus on my Higher Power, my God, Yahweh.

I need to blog more often. Just because my son is in recovery, doesn't mean that he isn't an addict. He will always be one, for the rest of his life. I've heard too many stories, recently, about addicts who have relapsed after years of being sober.

No pun intended, but that's a very sobering thought.

One day at a time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Addicts Yo-Yo Bank

Zany title, huh...

It's a beautiful day in my hometown of California. While other parts of the country are freezing cold, I am spending my lunch break on a computer at the high school where I work. I am feeling overwhelmed by life in general. It's a good thing, because I have a job. Given the economic situation, I would rather be feeling overwhelmed and stressed at my job than to be unemployed.

But, this blog is supposed to be an update on how my son is doing. Today, though, I am taking a different approach. Today, this blog feels like my journal-- a way to unload random thoughts about my son, his addiction and his friends (who are mostly recovering addicts). I am going to forewarn you, readers , that I will have little time to proof read or edit today. So, I apologize if I appear to be rambling.

My son-- he's alive, and as far as we know, he is sober. I don't see any alarming behavior-- erratic behavior, anger, depression, lethargic body I can only assume, and thank God, that he is okay. Of course, he has suboxone to help him NOT go through PAWS (Post Accute Withdrawal Symptom).

The rest of my son's behavior? I'm having a challenge distinguishing addictive behavior with teenage behavior. I don't seem him scrambling to help around the house. On the other hand, he is keeping his room neat and tidy and he isn't a slob around the house. Amen.

He is still a Master Procrastinator. That's where I struggle to find patience with him. I have noticed that I do not say what I am thinking. That's probably a good thing, or my son and I might be locking horns. I've also noticed that I don't get angry about his procrastination in handling things. I simply feel disappointed.

He's applying for jobs, but I don't think he's got his heart into it. This is the Yo-Yo life that I see in addicts. Take B's last place where he lived. My son and the woman who allowed my son to stay at her apartment (with her young daughter) have borrowed money from one another. Neither of them work. What's up with that? More often, than not, my son's friends (who are addicts) are unemployed and either living at home with their parents or they are collecting disability. OK, I see my son's point...somewhat. If someone is fresh out of recovery, or not IN denial of their addiction, they have a hard time keeping a job. But, I have a lot of resentment about that. That's because I am paying my taxes! I don't lie about my taxes, either. That's because I am a bible believing Christian who wants to follow God's Word. (I'd better stop, here, lest I write a sermon on that topic). Suffice it to say, that I observe my son spinning his wheels on how to make fast money-- selling things and borrowing money. If only he would put that kind of energy into finding a job! Sure, unemployment rates are high. My perseverant personality would not give up.

Just the other day, B's former roommate bounced three checks, for a total of $190.00 that she wrote in repayment to him for a loan. In the first place, where does my son get this money to lend her? As of today, she has not made good on the checks. She's in the psyche ward, from trying to kill herself. Crazy life, isn't it?

I pray for my son that he will put God first in his life. I have to pray for that, myself. Sometimes, my life becomes so unmanageable, that I don't stop to spend time with the Lord. I was recently reminded of God's commandment that we are NOT to put any other God's (or idols) before Him. Right now, I see that my son puts his social life before all else. He has, yet, to attend the church that he actually led me to join! Yet, I say nothing.

I know that God longs to have a relationship with us. But, God will not force himself upon us. It saddens me that my son wastes so much time hanging out with his friends. I suspect that he is not going to meetings as often as he says that he is. That is just my feeling.

I struggle with listening to my son on his cellphone-- no, I'm not eavesdropping. He talks loud, and I can't help but here his one-sided conversation. It seems that my son, and his friends, owe each other money. My son can't hang on to money. It disappears. Most people assume that it's drugs where it's going. Remember, he's passing his random drug tests as "clean". I think that my son is equating "joy and happiness" with money. He doesn't realize that breakfast at Jack In The Box (as opposed to my refrigerator of free-range eggs, organic fresh orange juice and lots of food choices), expensive energy drinks, gas expenses to drive all over the place, books at Borders and video game rentals all adds up! He becomes distraught when he's broke. As of today, he's broke.

My son is in recovery, yes. But, he has a very long way to go to finding some sort of maturity in his behavior. My personal observation is this-- Addiction is a very selfish disease. I think that my son has spent so much of his time worrying about how to find the money to buy the drugs he is addicted to. Sober or not, he has not learned how to break free of his narcisstic behavior.

Me... I've become a responsible woman, who tries to live her life with integrity. I have such a strong aversion to lies, schemes, cheating and wreckless financial behavior. I give the glory to God for chaning my heart to want to live my life in obedience to Him. My son doesn't understand that concept.

That's my personal struggle, right now. I need to learn and practice patience with B. I see him making choice and following the ways of the world. How I long for him to be the light of the world-- through our Lord, Jesus.

My lunch break is over, so I need to post this. I hope that what I wrote makes sense to anyone who is reading.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Waiting to exhale-- loving the word "clean"

It has been over a week since I last posted about my son. I received a private email from someone who stumbled across my blog. This person expressed that their own child is experiencing a similar addiction to what I describe about my son. I am always sorry to hear their stories-- but, in a way, I find that we have found each other. We, the parents of addicts, need support. We need to know that we are not alone.

How is my son doing? Overall, he is doing much better. On the outside, I see him taking better care of himself. His skin has cleared. He is dressing much differently-- no "gangsta" look. He is sleeping at night (I can hear his snores on occasion). He has been coming home to eat dinner with us-- and I have to say, I am loving it. Dinner has always been a time where the TV is turned off. It's a time to pray over our meal, and to give thanks to God for all that we have. We break bread and talk to one another. I started posting weekly meal plans, and it's been wonderful to see my son get excited about what I'm going to make (those of you who know me, personally, are aware that I am a "foodie" and I cook with a passion and as a hobby).

My son continues to be a courteous roommate, and he has not engaged in any kind of confrontation with me or with his stepdad. Amen! Tonight, he started put a week's worth of suboxone into a baggie. He said he wanted to keep it in his car "just in case". I paused and thought to myself..."in case of what?" So, I told him that was not acceptable. I asked him to keep his suboxone in the pillbox we got for him. We are doling his suboxone out in weekly doses.
I half expected for him to get angry-- and I secretly feared he wanted to tell sell them. Thankfully, he didn't argue. He returned his prescription, and kept a cheerful attitude.

I am still very guarded about my son's sobriety. Remember-- addicts are highly manipulative and habitual liars. I recently heard that a friend's son has relapsed. I cannot tell you how much that saddened my heart. My son has relapsed twice. I am fully aware that he could relapse again.

Aside from B's risk of relapse, there are still some areas in his life that he is still a bit "wishy washy" about. I still see him putting so much value in his social life. He's still very forgetful and he still procrastinates. My husband and I try not to say much-- and neither one of us nag at him to get things done. He knows what's expected-- he needs to continue applying for jobs. He needs to go to college. We are all in counseling together.

We had our family meeting on Saturday. B is about 40% behind job application quota he agreed to do. He did 4 out of 5 meetings per week he commited to doing. He is keeping his curfew.

But-- I feel a HUGE victory. We asked our son to take a random drug test. He passed! He's clean. No opiates...and no other drugs (I have a 5-panel drug test). I was as nervous as my son was. B says he was scared that he'd get a false postive. I feared he'd get a positive and make excuses.

So, there you have it. Baby steps. One day at a time. He is far from being home free.

I'm tired, because work is very hectic. I'm taking night classes and exercising two nights a week. I won't be able to blog more than once a week. There is more I could share, but I want to share positive news tonight. I'm so thankful that tomorrow is Friday.

I continue to pray for the families of addicts-- I pray for marriages that are being tested because of the strain of it all. I pray that God will encourage our hearts.

With God, all things are possible.