Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A mother's reaction to a dangerous situation

A mother's instinct to protect her child can sometimes become so overpowering, that nothing else matters.

I have been so good about setting and keeping boundaries with my son. But there comes a time, when everything I learned flies right out the window.

I debated on sharing with all of you what has happened within the last 48 hours. Undoubtedly, once I post this, there will be parents of addicts who will shake their heads at me. There are parents who have been ripped off by their addict children, and who have become hardened against addicts ploys for money. I can understand why so many parents have pretty much flipped on the "I'm not enabling my addict's addiction anymore" switch. They do this, to preserve their own sanity. I understand this, completely.

My story is the truth:

My name is Debby, and my son is an addict. My son has been addicted to smoking heroin since, at least, April 2008. He started with oxycontin in 2005, and his brain finally morphed into liking "black". My son is an addict. He doesn't deny it.

OK, I'll cut to the chase--

My son admits that he is "chipping". He smokes some "black" and then uses suboxone to help curb the withdrawals.

Once again, my son got himself into another mess. This is round #3. A mother knows these things. The last few weekends, I have picked up B from his job. We swing by his apartment so that he can gather his laundry. He comes to my house, and does his own laundry. He eats dinner with us. It's an opportunity for my son to visit with us, and it's good.

Saturday, I could tell that my son was really wound up tight. His cellphone kept buzzing. He'd go outside and (this time) I didn't try to snoop. B doesn't live with me, so I figure he needs to deal with his own stuff.

B looked pale and very distracted. I asked him "what's wrong", when my husband wasn't in the room. B didn't want to tell me. I kept urging him to tell me. He wouldn't.

Finally, he told me that his roommate called and that there was a car outside the apartment. It was my son's dealer.
B let me listen to a voice mail. They were threatening my son.

Many parents, at this point, would think "Too bad. He got himself into this mess, and that's the way it is.

I can't do that. Maybe I haven't grown a thick enough skin. My son hasn't been in jail. Except for $40.00, just recently, he has never stolen from me.

B asked me to drop him off away from his apartment. He didn't want me to be in any danger. B called the dealer on speaker phone, and I could hear the conversation.

"Tomorrow, a very heavy Mexican accent said". The call ended.

I dropped off B, where his roommate waited to escort him back to the apartment.

I didn't sleep well. I kept waking and praying for my son. Stress makes his blood sugars soar, which is dangerous for a diabetic.

Monday afternoon, B called me very distraught. He was sobbing.

"Pray for me, mom. Please!"

We prayed together, and my son asked God to forgive him and to help him.

I went into a private room at work, and called B right back.
He told me that the dealer found B, as his friend was giving him a ride to work. The car cut in front of them, and the dealer pointed his hand as though it was a gun. He threatened to show up at B's work if he didn't pay up. Today.

I called B's friend. The story matched. This is the one friend that B has, who doesn't use.

I picked B up at his job, all the while I prayed and asked God for wisdom.

I made up my mind. I gave Brian the money. It wasn't a lot. I listened to the dealer say $150.00.

B pleaded that he only owed $100.00. The dealer said "we want interest." Finally, the dealer say, $120.00 and we are cutting you off.

Thank you, Jesus.

Before anyone judges or criticizes me, please know that I had some important dialog with my son, in the parking lot of his job. I asked my son, why?

B tells me-- and I believe him-- that he doesn't want to use to get high. He says he can't take the withdrawals.

We talked about so much, that I can't blog it all. In a way I don't want to. Not now. Our talk was deep. My son has BS'd me many times. I knew, deep in my soul, that my son is desperately wanting to find sobriety. My son said that he has reached bottom, at last.

Has he?

My son called the dealer and arranged a meeting. I went home to change clothes and to eat a fast bite of dinner. B called and said he wanted to go to an NA meeting. I picked him up.

"Mom, I need to stand up tonight. I want to say, I'm B and I'm an addict. I can't stay clean. I'm desperate. I need a sponsor".

Both B and his roommate were waiting for me. "M" has been sober for a week. He has never been to an NA meeting and wants to support my son.

I said to "M, "I want you to know that I have never hated you "M". Like it or not, I have been praying for you like crazy."

"It's working", he said. I'm sober. I want to clean up my life.

My son will pay me back. He is writing a life plan for me, as part of the deal for my helping him. We are not done. Tomorrow night, B will go with me to a Celebrate Recovery meeting. B wants to return to church. He says he wants to reconnect with Jesus.

I spoke with B right before I went to bed. He said he feels better, having gone to a meeting. He apologized over and over again, to me.  

The hardest part for me was telling my husband what I had done. C wasn't happy with me. He reminded me that I promised I'd never help him get out of his mess.

I did just that. I broke that promise. I was afraid my husband couldn't forgive me.
He was upset, but I had to tell him what I had done. I can't lie to him. I love him too much.

I still feel that I did what a mother has to do. If anyone wants to tell me that I'm a fool, then I will take it. I cannot live with myself, knowing that my son could have been beaten, stabbed or shot over $120.00. I believe that B will pay it back.

My husband hugged me this morning. I think he understands that I love him too much to lie to him. I didn't ask my husband for permission, but I was purely in mother protective mode. I was scared for my son. He was sobbing at a level that tore my heart. My son isn't evil. He's an addict.

For the love of God, please understand that I know that my son needs a one-year program. It isn't in the cards, right now. I'm too weary to list them, because if you've been following my blog I've written about them over and over again.

So, you see-- I'm as human as everyone else. The strength I've been told I have only goes so far. If my son was to end up in jail, or dead-- well, it's something I hope I never have to experience.  I reacted to pure panic over my son's safety.

Today is a new day. I have searched my soul and I feel that what I did carries no guilt in me. I can only pray that my son will remember the fear and that he will finally make the phone calls, today, that we talked about.

I welcome any and all comments about this. Be honest, because I want this blog to be a place where we can share our true thoughts.  My feelings get hurt, but it makes me stronger. I chose to share this moment in my life with you, because maybe there's another mother just like me-- who reacts this way.

Thank you for your prayers. Please pray that my son will stay with NA, that he will get a good sponsor and that he will finally work hard-- the odds are not in his favor-- to find sobriety and keep it.


Dad and Mom said...


I'm on your side. There are times all the self righteousness about be strong, don't enable does take a back seat. I'm sorry to all the others too that will say the same to me but as a parent I know fear in my son and know desperate. I leave desperate alone, honest to goodness fear and what dealers will do is not worth a hundred bucks, especially when we have it and only amounts to a nice dinner and coffe to us.

Where there is life there is hope. My number one goal is to keep my son alive until he can see the light. Don't apologize, but I would set B down and tell him how afraid you were.

Keep working it. We're all here for you too.

Anonymous said...

Debby, I would have done exactly the same thing. NO ONE has all of the answers...I for one would rather have my son an addict (with all the associated dangers) and ALIVE than follow someone else's OPINION of what constitutes enabling and then have him shot or in a diabetic coma. Go easy on yourself, you a a wonderful mother and this is very very hard. Take care of yourself, all the best, another heroin addict's anonymous mom.

clean and crazy said...

if it were my baby, i probably would have done the same.

it is different, when they are scamming you and you know they owe someone something. you know when there is danger. after going through what you have gone through as a parent of an addict, you just know the difference.

i am so grateful the dealer has cut him off. that is awesome. and enabling or not you got two addicts to a meeting!! that is a miracle!! two miracles. you have no idea how awesome it is to get two addicts to a meeting. amazing i will keep you in my prayers.

LisaC said...

Debby, When people talk about boundaries they often forget to say "the boundaries are for you, not for the addict." And it is true. Boundaries change...they have to...because what we need changes.

You needed to help your son...to potentially keep him alive. You did the right thing and I can't judge your motives negatively. My son has stolen thousands from us (that is why he isn't in jail...I never got to the point where I could turn him in). But when he overdosed and came to us and said I really want to be clean and I'll go anywhere and do anything, we found a program for him. Yes, some see it as enabling. I had previously said "not another dollar on rehab from us." But at the time, under the circumstances it felt like the right thing to do. At this point (2 weeks later) I still feel that way.

You are tremendously strong, your husband sounds like a good man, supportive, loving and caring; and your son is blessed to have you as his mom.

Mom of Opiate Addict said...

Debby, first and foremost it is your opinion and that of your family that count most. We are not here to judge you or any actions you take. My son lived in fear for two solid weeks hid out with no word to me. I was so very afraid for him. It is a long story that I think I will post about, but long story short, the guy is still around and sometimes puts fear in my son. I don't know what I would have done, but either way, you did what you felt you had to do and did your best at the time, period. There are no perfect anwers and addiction twists a long, scary and confusing road, so different actions sometimes will be taken. Good that you are not second guessing yourself and no need to justify at all. I pray B and M both continue forward with the desire to become sober and seek out the reocvery needed to do so, whatever that may be for them. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Debby, I am a lurker on your blog and I feel your pain so much. My 24 year old son is an oxy addict and our family is very much on an emotional rollercoaster. Don't worry about people who make you feel bad or guilty. This situation is not "one-size-fits-all". I would have done the same thing. I, too, am working on not enabling my son, but I definitely want him to live long enough to get clean if possible. Love and prayers to you. (And Dad is right, pray but also use your mother's instinct.)

Heather's Mom said...

Debby, I have been hesitant to leave comments as I've only been dealing with the situation with my own daughter for 3 weeks - so I have no idea what is good/bad right/wrong etc with dealing with an addict - but I am learning. Okay - I gave my disclaimer - now I will say: Praise God! I am so happy for you :) To hear that your son went to an NA meeting to me is wonderful news. And to know you had meaningful conversation(s) is awesome :) I think your action was a positive one, and from what I am learning it is up to them to take action toward us, toward recovery, and it sounds like that is just what happened here. God bless you.

Fractalmom said...

oh for all my harshness, i would have done the same thing.

i will keep praying for you and your son.

Anonymous said...

You can add another supporter for your actions. I think what you wrote here, sums it up..."I have searched my soul and I feel that what I did carries no guilt in me." I have learned the hard way that most of the time, my gut feeling/mother's intuition/nudging from the Holy Spirit/ or whatever you want to call it - is 99% accurate. Every situation is different as every person is different. The Bible speaks of many different ways that Jesus taught, healed, and responded to different people and their situations, so it only makes sense that in our lives, one can't use the same method for every person.

I think you are a very wise Momma and your sincere endeavors for your son will reap great results. The hard part is waiting....

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that as horrible as it is, the death threat may have been what your son needed to get the strength to commit to a program.

Midnitefyrfly said...

Only you know what feels right for you. I feel like these are such wonderful developments and I really am so happy that things are beginning to unfold the way they are.

You have every right to keep your son safe and be there for him. I think you absolutely did the right thing and B is very lucky to have such a great mama in his corner

Being honest about your choices reflects your strength and character.

You have a wonderful support system here. Be gentle with yourself and keep up the GREAT work.


Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Hi Debby, I DID do the same thing once when my son's dealer threatened him with a gun. UGH. I don't even like to think about some of Keven's stories and situations he's been in that could have left him dead.

I believe B is sincere in wanting to get clean. I HATE this evil drug that takes over their lives and makes them so damn sick when they try to stop.

I'm hoping the best, praying like crazy for all our kids. In fact after reading this I stopped, prayed and found myself in tears for all the parents/children I know that are going through this.

Annette said...

Debby, first of all I am sitting here crying. I can just feel your pain and your fear for your son. I can feel your son's torment. As "Dad" says, "Parents are enablers."

Very true and I can't think of a mother in your situation who would have done it any differently. Sometimes you just do what you do. Right or wrong, we are just people, trying to find our way and keep our kids alive long enough to find recovery. No judgments here honey.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of a 17 year old son.
I am also a recovering addict of 8 years. My drug of choice doesn't matter. But I want to tell you that I used for most of my 51 years. If it were my son, I would have done the same. Blessings to you and your son. He can and will recover. A mothers heart knows her child.

Her Big Sad said...

You have to do what seems right to your gut and your heart! And by prayerfully doing so, you got two addicts to a meeting... that's huge. One of my counselors told me, even if "this time" isn't "the" time, the truth is still getting into their heads. Each meeting imparts more wisdom and more hope to them, shows them a whole other world of people who are making sobriety work.... it is never wasted. My daughter said the same thing to me once, as she took a loaded friend to a meeting, "even if this isn't the time, the message is getting in there, and when she's ready, it will all come back to her! She will remember." I hope and pray for you tonight, that THIS is B's time (and M's!).... that he saw at that meeting that there is a way, there are those who can help him, and that he can do this. I am so hopeful, Debby.... No one should judge what you did. You and your husband are the only ones who should make those calls! You were acting as a loving, frightened, protective mother..... I like what Annette said, too, about how we are sometimes just trying to keep them alive long enough to find recovery! ((hug!))

Josh said...


Your reaction was completely acceptable. Once my parents found out I was using, they told me they would never lend me money again, unless my life was at stake. All I had to do was ask, they said. However, there came a time where I needed that help, but I was too scared to ask because I was ashamed of using, that I stole the money I owed my dealer from them, to pay him. Did I feel bad about it? Absolutely.

You, in my opinion, did the right thing to help your son. I'm keeping you both in my thoughts, and hope all is well.

Peace be with you,

Anonymous said...

Debby, You shouldn't and don't have to apologize for your actions. I don't think there is a parentout there that would say that's his problem and not help out their child who was being threatened.

Yes, he got himself into this and yes he sould be accountable for that, but you can't sit back and say that you're not going to help him and watch him get shot over $120! Heck, I'd give him the money too and i don't even know him.

I stand by you a hundred percent. i'm so sorry that he's gotten himself into this postion and has dragged you into it too. I so hope this is rock bottom for him so that he can start to climb his way back up.

God Bless,

Madison said...

Debby, Parents, spouses and children of addicts do what they think is right in the middle of a highly emotional difficult situation. It's comforting to know that you're not alone in the sense that you are living right where everyone reading your blog is living or has lived. If we all sat around a room and compared stories of the situations caused by addiction and our reactions to those situations, I think they'd all have a familiar ring. The situations are painful, dangerous, expensive, emotional, awful... We all agree on that. But, when I read your blog I get the sense that you are in this fight for B's life somewhat alone and under enormous hourly stress. I hope that you find a person who you can look in the eye who understands addiction - who is not emotionally involved in parenting an addict at this very moment who will help you. As you know, after many years, I finally found a doctor who had been an addict and had many years of recovery giving me advice when I had exhausted every other resource. He did not give me one-size-fits all advice. He totally understood what was occurring and why. I spent many a tearful day and night on the phone with him and he didn't charge me a dollar. I pray you find a person like that to guide you through this. Plus, everywhere I dragged my wrecked self, professionals suggested Alanon and learning about how powerless we all are. Like you, I believe in the power of prayer. That's the only power I know. If we, as parents, all sit in a room and express our painful experiences and talk about what we think is the best thing to do, a knowledgeable professional listening to our discussion might calmly disagree. So, don't take comments to heart. Maybe through a local Alanon group you can find someone who will help you. If all of the above doesn't apply to you, please ignore and know that I am praying for you.

Madison said...

Oh, my, I just read Fractal Mom commenting in your previous blog and then everyone jumping on her comments. She may sound 'harsh', but she is writing about being powerless. I hope she isn't run off by everyone piling on top of her. It's nice to read comments that go against the 'group'. In the end, we are powerless. Right?

Anonymous said...

"Finally, the dealer say, $120.00 and we are cutting you off."

One dealer down....awesome!

Steve said...


Your tragedy is being repeated all over the country every day. OxyContin is legal heroin and your son can likely get high less expensively on heroin. Please go to www.banoxycontin.com and sign the petition and add your comments.

I admire very much your courage.


Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story said...

Wow! So much honesty I am reading.
First, thank you to all of you who comment anonymously. You aren't anonymous, to me. Your opinion matters to me.
Madison, Fractal mom-- I understand where you are coming from. I admire both of you.
Ryan, Josh... thank you, for being the voice of addicts.
"Dad", I'm so surprised that you support my decision. I didn't expect that. You are a wise father and I value your opinions.
To the rest of you, I haven't named one-by-one... Barbara, Cheri...so many of you.
Thank you.

Angela said...

I think you are beautiful girl! SIGH. So many tell us do this, do that, don't do this, don't do that...

I will be praying for your family...
the odds are not in his favor-...you know what I'm looking at right now above my computer as I type this..

Everything is possible for him who believes. Mark 9:23....

sometimes we live in such a hopeless situation that it is very difficult to believe the best, to hope for the best.....

What you did for your son spoke to me of 'love believes the best'...

I also think of ,,NOTHING is impossible with God.