Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pulse Check. Yeah, I'm still here, just distracted....

It's been a while since I've written on this blog. I had a pulse check from Ron, to see if I'm okay. That means a lot.

Am I okay? Each day, I have to go through a routine to make sure that I don't slip into feeling discouraged. I have to many thing I wish I could share with "beginner" parents whose kids are drug addicts. There are days when it all feels so daunting.

My daily routine is one of praying every morning. My prayer varies, of course. But, in general, my prayers include:

Dear Father. Thank you that my son is alive today. I pray that you will bless my son, today, with an event that he will know comes from you. I pray that my son is becoming more aware of temptation, and that your Holy Spirit will help him to know that he is being tricked. Please, father, continue to sever friendships that lead him into temptation. I pray that my son will find a friend that you have sent into his life. I pray that you will give me wisdom to know what I should or should not do to help my son. I pray that my son will find a better job, and that he will learn how to manage his finances so that he doesn't worry so much. I lift up in prayer, A and R, who are in an abyss of drug use and addiction. Please, bring their darkness into your perfect light, that they might find sobriety. I pray this, in Jesus Name.

This is my morning and daily bread that I need.

How is my son? I feel so much sympathy for him. He is not making enough money to make ends meet. He tosses and turns at night. I admire that he still goes to work on time, and doesn't flake out. He is still having problems with his roommate, A. A is using drugs, and my son is angry about it. For that reason, A paid part of the rent, but not all of it. My son is in rent arrears. I cannot interfere. There's a reason why.

While my son is struggling, I pray he will find perseverance in never giving up. This is hard for him to do, I know. He's so young, and I think drugs were his escape from dealing with the struggles of life. I've come to realize that if I was to pay his rent, my son would not find the courage to change things.

I see improvement on my son's need for money. He no longer wants designer close and all those frilly things. He's got a pretty good attitude about it. He doesn't complain. He's gotten used to not having cable TV, nor video games. He reads and watches a few movies he owns, over and over again.

His car is in the repair shop again. It's a lemon. It's hard for him, but he never complains. I pick him up a couple times a week. He's always thankful.

My relationship with B has shifted to a new level. B is beginning to understand that he is no longer a child. He is very respectful to me. He doesn't cuss at me anymore, and he doesn't get mad. He doesn't ask me for money. The best part, is that I feel we are beginning to talk as adults, to one another.

I've changed, too. My anger is gone. When my son is down, he calls me. I try to encourage him, and he usually perks up. I feel as though he values my wisdom. I'm thrilled with this!

But-- that doesn't mean there aren't problems. There are plenty of them. Will my son be able to pay his rent in a few days? Will he figure out how to get rid of A and will a new roommate really work out?

I feel bad for my son. His life is definitely a struggle. No word, yet, if he will qualify for Medical. No work on food stamps. It takes time, which I told him. I pray he will get Medi-Cal insurance for his diabetes and to pay for his methadone. I can't believe I am saying this, but the methadone is working for my son. He says he has no desire to use at all! Consequently, he's disgusted with his friend/roommate who is using. I pray that the roommate will move on, and my son will find a way to get a roommate who isn't using. He says he has, so we shall see.

There are times when I catch myself worrying about my son. When I do, I go back into prayer mode. I have to be careful, because I didn't realize I was being impatient with my husband. I realized he seemed very quiet, and then it came out. I felt bad, and I realized that I must be suppressing my stress within and it manifested in wanting to be alone. I tend to do that, when I'm stressed. I'm married, so that's not the best thing to do.

So, there you have it. B called, and he sounds "down". It wears me out, sometimes, being the Cheerleader. I try not to worry about him.

He's alive. He wants to be sober. I thank God, each day, that he is not in jail or dead.

I'll try to pop in more often. I'm sorry, but I haven't checked in on anyone else's blog. I need to do that, and I'll try to do that this weekend.

I pray that my blogger friends are hanging in there. I need to rewind to where I got my momentum going-- trying to share my wisdom with others. I seem to have writer's block on that, though. It'll come back.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Discussion continued... and my son's mad dash against deadlines

 I just got home from work, and then my women's bible study. I have 30 minutes before I need to hit the sack, and start the work cycle all over again. I'm glad that my posting brought out such varying comments. I think this is good.

I want to print Tom's (Recovery Desk)follow up comment to my comment. For those of you who missed the post, it's one more post down. I think Tom understands where I am coming from. Here, just read it. Please:
I agree with Angelo that the behavior does not match self interest. Angelo has a logical theory. I was also wondering about the consistency between being scared/sick and not wanting to be alone, and falling asleep. Most people who are in withdrawal don't fall asleep --especially so soundly that they don't wake up until the next day.

But I didn't choose to focus on the use/non-use issue because 1) I don't know the truth of the situation; 2) it's not helpful for a parent to focus on the "are they using" play by play; and 3) whether or not he is using today is far less important than getting things in place so that he has a shot at a sustainable recovery.

This means making sure he has insurance in place.

Also, given the description of his chronic inability to focus or follow through, I have to wonder if there are mental health issues that are interfering with his ability to get his insurance in place without additional support.

This need not be a major mental health issue. We all have mental barriers to doing things we know we need to do and really want to do from time to time.

I would be embarrassed to tell you how much this was me when I was younger, and I have no addiction history or major mental health issues. I had maturing to do. I needed to gain confidence and experience. I had mental barriers that I had to age/experience past. I see this in other people every day.

A young person in early recovery is unlikely to be in the best position to function without additional support.

Millions of adult Americans without addiction or mental health issues fail to get health insurance for which they are eligible. They fail to get their bills paid on time and get a late payment fee. They bounce a check now and then because they didn't balance their checkbook. They fail to save for retirement. They fail to be financially prudent and they end up in bankruptcy.

Most of us have been there/done that (at least part of that).

I think it is reasonable and effective to offer concrete support in strategic ways to someone in early recovery if it means that they are more likely to succeed in recovery and in life over the long term.

I call it a good investment.

I fear I may be dangerously close to second guessing a parent's decision. And that is not my intention. I'm not trying to be critical. Just describe an alternative point of view based on personal and professional experience.

Debby, please accept my sincere apology if I am out of line at all. I have a lot of respect for you...or I wouldn't care to have this conversation with you.
 I highlighted, in red, the comments I nodded my head in agreement.  Absolutely!  I don't think my son resorted to using heroin.  Why? Because he had 75% of the money-- what he didn't have amounted to very little.  If he used, it would all have been gone.  What I believe my son did do-- I believe he bought methadone, on the street. Yep, that's what I think he did. It cost hi $30-40.00, I am guessing.

It is astounding, to me, how people can't set priorities. My son can't.  He procrastinates-- he forgets, he gets distracted, or off on a totally different mission. He's rarely on time-- except for work.  He races to work, waiting until the last second to make something to eat, then snarfs it in the car. I know this.  His cellphone dies, because he forgets to charge it.  He misses deadlines.  He spaces out-- I've lost count on how many times he's said he'll call me right back-- two days later, I call him!

Addict or not-- he has few organizational skills.  My husband says he was the same way, at his age.  Dear Angelo-- don't forget that my son is 21 years ago-- but closer to about 17-18 years old in maturity.

I also agree that my son would not sleep soundly if he was using. Tom is absolutely correct. My son suffered from severe insomnia, when he was using. He'd be up all night long, pacing and antsy.  My son sleeps a lot. He says methadone helps him to sleep better.

So, there you have it-- B is finally back on his recommended dose of methadone-- which was increased a little at a time.  Right, To?  I have to say, that I actually don't blame the methadone clinic.  How many addicts must've lied about getting their payments in?   At least, the methadone clinic didn't cut him off-cold!  No, my son knew the policy but he thought he could fudge it. Uh-uh.

My son, as I see it-- is looking for healing in a pill.  It was my dear blogger friend Cheri, who pointed out that nobody picked up that my post was based on my Christianity-- my faith in God.  That was completely overlooked-- except for Cheri and Heather's Mom. I wish my son would return to his spiritual roots.  He needs to pray, meditate and do some inner healing. It's okay, though-- I cannot expect everyone and anyone to belief what I do.  At least, I'm not afraid to share my beliefs.  Like "meetings" say-- take what you want, leave what you don't want.

I saw B tonight. He's feeling a little bit better. He says he is managing his blood sugars, because he loves the new glucose meter I bought him.  He says that tomorrow he will go to apply for Medi-Cal and for food stamps.  I'm thankful my son is alive, and he isn't smoking heroin.  I mean that--  and maybe my son learned a very valuable lesson in life-- that taking care of his priorities are important.  I seriously doubt he will ever blow off following the methadone's payment policy.  I can almost guarantee it.

Thank you, Tom, Angelo, Cheri... and those of you I haven't personally named.  I thank those of you who read my blog, but don't leave comments.

I feel that I need to continue keeping this blog going.  I want to support others, and I thank all of you for your support.  Yawn.  It's bedtime.

Monday, February 15, 2010

You can't walk with God, if You're Holding Hands with the Devil

It's been a while since I've blogged-- let alone visited my Bloggie Friends. I got a bad cold, last weekend, and I'm still coughing and sniffling.  But, life goes on.

What's up with my title, today?  It was yesterday's message at church.  We are doing a study on James 4, and I am loving it. I thought of my son, the whole time. So, how is my son?

That's the million dollar question.  He's been really sick, too.  I think we exchanged germs.  B missed two days of work, because of it. His boss told him that if he didn't come back to work, he was fired. Nice boss, huh? It's the same one that fired him once before, then rehired him. How I wish my son could get a better job.  In my humble opinion, I don't see him making a true effort to get a new job. Sure, he applies here and there-- but he doesn't find value in my advice to follow up with a phone call.

My son shows such classic symptoms of "ADD".  No, he's never been tested.  I'm aware that there are folks who believe "ADD" isn't a true diagnosis.  I won't go into that, right now. It's just a hunch. My point is, that my son can't focus on one thing.  Sadly, he's so darn intelligent!  As a mom, watching from a distance, he is a professional procrastinator.  He has no perseverence. He gives up, so easily.

My wonderful pastor, spoke on this and it really hit home.  My son is living his life for one thing-- sobriety.  This is a good thing, but I think he's missing the vital tools to find the strength and conviction to know what to do when (I didn't say "if") the need to use hits him.   I believe, with 1001% percent of my heart, that my desire to follow God-- no, WALK WITH God is what keeps me moving forward.  I have shared my testimony on how my faith has changed the person I once was.  My son is holding hands with the devil. 

Did you know that 87% of Christians see "The Devil" as a figure of speech, and don't believe his is real?  I believe that there really is a Satan-- a fallen angel-- and I believe that he seeks to destroy us.  Until my son has a revival in his heart (which he once had), his life will be filled with such sorrow and stress.

That's where B is right now.  He didn't take care of his financial business, is all I will say.  It meant that his methadone clinic began to dose his methadone down.  B was feeling the first signs of withdrawal, this weekend.  I could hear the panic in his voice.

What am I talking about?  For any newcomers, my son is on methadone.  He didn't make his payment on time, and on weekends the office staff is gone. So his dose got cut and he can feel it.  The clinic explained this to me-- that if $350.00 a month is paid in full by the 10th of the month, they won't just cut off a patient. But, they'll begin the detox doses.  It reaffirms my observation that my son is scared to death of withdrawals!  How I pray that my son can find the courage to find sobriety without need of methadone.  I know, I know... many of you have explained that methadone has/is saved/saving your lives. I get it.  Sadly, if my son would have kept is promise to go and apply for Medi-Cal, most likely he wouldn't have to pay $350.00 a month.  My son should get Medi-Cal since he lives below poverty level and he is a diabetic.  Alas, he just doesn't get into the office to wait the long time that it takes-- that takes perseverance, and my son doesn't have it.

B called me, last night, saying he felt like shi*.  He sounded worried and said he didn't want to be alone. He asked if he could come over, and I said yes.   He never answered his phone. I am supposed to pick him up in 30 minutes, to take his car into the repair shop. He's not answering. He didn't answer his phone, last night.

What did I do?  I prayedI gave it to God.  I cannot collapse or fret with worry.  Maybe my son can learn the consequences of not taking care of responsibilities... maybe this is a wakeup call? I can only hope so.  I tell you the truth-- prayer gave me a sense of calm. I didn't hit the panic button.

My son frets and worries and falls apart so easily.  How I pray that my son would discover, that when we walk with God... talk to God, that he fills our heart with courage.  "B, please focus on the solutions-- and not the problem" is my Mommy wisdom that seems to fall deaf on his ears.  Come to think of it, I used to be like that at his age-- I seemed to fly  into a tailspin at the first sign of problems.  That was all "Before Jesus" in my own life-- which has only been about 15 years of my 54 years of age.

UPDATE: As I typed, my son called. He fell asleep. He's okay.  He's feeling crappy, because his dose of methadone got decreased. The office is closed, due to the holiday.

My thoughts?  Addiction is a crazy world.  I cannot fully understand it.  To the best of my non-addict mind, my son's world is held captive by the battle of his brain craving the drug it wants.  The only thing my son can find comfort with is a chemical form of opiates to "trick" his brain and calm it down.  How I pray that my son will be set free of that!

I love God with all of my heart.  I have met so many Christians, who love God as I do. I have heard their stories of how God has comforted them through live events that are heartbreaking.  If only my son could live each day, putting God first in his life.  The devil is tempting my son. How I wish my son had just ONE Godly friend.

Enough said.  I will continue on with my series of revamping my life as the Mother of  a Drug Addict--from the beginning-- later on.  Right now, I have some praying to do.

May God fill each person's heart with his presence. Lord, I pray that you will reveal yourselves to those who doubt you exist. I pray that those who blame you for the sorrows of this world, will realize that it's Satan's Evil handiwork.  Fill my heart, Lord, with your Holy Power and Presence, that I will have the courage to face the trials and tribulations of life on Earth.  I pray that you will take my fear and worries into your perfect and all-knowing Hands, and fill my heart with joy and hope.  I pray for my son-- and so many other drug addicts and families of drug addicts-- that you will be their Higher Power... Yahweh, Father God in Heaven.  Thank you for your grace and mercy.  May those who believe in you, extend your grace and mercy on others.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another Mom Who Needs Support and Encouragement

One of my biggest motivators I have in putting my person life and thoughts out in the open, is when I receive a comment or email, that leads me to someone's blog.  This mom is hurting, and needs to feel encouragement. Please pay her a visit, and giver her some Blogger Love.

Her blog is "A Mom's Serious Blunder".

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Early warning signs & beginning tips for parents of drug addicts.

I'm going to skip back a few topics--to the beginning, where I began to discuss how I felt, when I first learned that my son was using drugs. Only this time, I'm remembering this 22 months later, from a totally different perspective. 

I've had some interesting chats with parents of students, where I work.  I'm still trying to hone down my story, in as short of a time span that I can.  My job isn't to counsel, parents, but I can't help myself!  I so wish I could share my story with them.  I can already visualize so many of you nodding your heads. Yes, you do, too.

Over a year ago, I sat with with the high school principal, who is also my boss.  I shut his door, and told him that I am the mother of a drug addict.  I wanted M to know that I had a blog, and that he had permission to refer any parent to me.  He offered me genuine sympathy (which wasn't what I was seeking). In short, M asked me a profound question-- he asked me what would I tell a parent who is in the early stages of discovery-- of the Big Evil Dark Secret.  I thought very carefully... and it's hard to pinpoint what the best starting place is.  So, I'm going to write down some key points:

Accept it.  Yes, that's it.  If your high school principal calls you, to tell you that your student was busted with drugs, don't blame the school.

Accept that no matter how seedy your kid's friend(s) are, they did not hog tie and for your kid to use drugs. YOUR kid made that choice!

Learn.  My son had all kinds of concocted stories about the drugs he was using.  I had no idea what oxycontin looked like. I had no idea what heroin looked like-- other than movies and photos of a syringe being plunged into a vein.  There are countless blogs and websites on drugs. Read!

Trust your sources - use your common sense.  Talk to people with common sense.  Believe it or not, addicts who have been clean and sober for a long period of time (years) have been more than willing to educate me.  Addicts, who are truly wanting to live a life of sobriety, want to help others from making their mistakes.  Sometimes statistics and advice can be confusing... just read my comments!

Get on the same page as your child's other parent--  this is really tough.  I know parents, who are living under the same roof-- who handle things differently.  Your drug addict child, most likely, has learned how to manipulate.  Parents need to be united.  In my case, my son's father and I are divorced and lived in separate households. This was one of the biggest obstacles.  My only advice is that YOU educate yourself, find support and learn how to set boundaries.  That's what I had to do-- and it took a few years to reap the rewards.

Find support groups who understand drug addiction-  This is so important! Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, CODA, Celebrate Recovery (church groups) have plenty of websites to help you find one of these groups.  Try different groups-- more than once-- which is exactly what I did.  If you've never been to one, please know that this is not an arena where people will tell you what to do.  The format is that the meeting has specific guidelines, and they will review this at the beginning of each meeting.  First names are only used-- just like on my blog.  This is anonymous.  One person speaks, at a time.  Nobody else may speak. Nobody may offer advice.  The format allows each person an opportunity to "share".  You will discover that you are not alone.  You will make friends.  At the end of each meeting, you can have coffee and chat with those who stay. This is where you can have a personal conversation.

This format doesn't work for me-- and I say this, in all honesty.  I am not saying that I don't like these groups. I am saying that I lack patience with people who speak for a long time.  I have no patience for prattling (says she who writes long posts).  I have an even worse time with people who whine about the same thing ,over and over again.  I'm not giving up, and I will try a new Nar-Anon, that just started in my area.  I live in a small community, where meetings are very scarce.  I also want to say that I know plenty of people who love these kinds of meetings. It has saved their life. So, bottom line, please go-- try it, give it a chance, and I pray this is your answer.

If you can afford to see a licensed Marriage Family Therapist, who specializes in drug addiction, please go!  My husband and I did this, and it was helpful.  My son went, without us.  Then all three of us got together.  That didn't go well, because my son was lying and still using. The therapist knew it, too.  I didn't like her, and didn't go back after a while. In retrospect, I didn't want to hear what she had to say.  You see?  It's very easy to become offended and you can easily have a mental meltdown at the stress of it all.

Most importantly,  it does absolutely no good to yell at your kid, punish, threaten nor belittle them.  I say this, because I've resorted to this.  Odds are, your drug addict child, most likely feels like they are a worthless piece of doo-doo, as it is.  I'm not saying that you need to do nothing!  Of course, there are consequences and we can't enable our kid's addiction.  At times, I felt like covering my ears with my hands, closing my eyes and yelling "na na na na" at the top of my voice. I've lost plenty of sleep and cried many tears of worry and sorrow. 

Understand that, unless your own close friends and family are drug addicts or live with one-- they really won't know the right thing to say.  Some will judge you, because they don't understand.  Most of the judgment comes from ignorance.  I not a perfect mom, but I tried to raise my son with Christian morals.  Still, my son got hooked on drugs.  What works for one addict, might not necessarily work for the other.  Sobriety is hard work-- for the addict and for the parent. 

If you can get your drug addict into a treatment program, that's awesome!  By the grace of God, we had health insurance. It cost $36,000.00 for a 30-day treatment program.  Our share of the cost was $3600.00.  Yes, amen.  When my son left rehab, my best friend let my son stay with them.  "C" is in "the program" with many successful years of sobriety. God bless them, they let my son stay for one month, while we looked for an SLE (Sober Living Environment). The cost was $600.00 per month, plus food and expenses.  It's not cheap.  My son stayed clean for six months.  He was totally pumped up, and so was I.

Pray.  Ask people to pray.  Spiritual Strength = Spiritual Fitness.  You will need all the strength you can find to get through this.  This ride goes on for a very long time-- years...even a lifetime. 

It is so frustrating that families who cannot afford a treatment program are left feeling helpless.  There are places that can be affordable, so don't give up!  Teen Challenge America is one of them.  Most "free" or "reduced" cost programs tend to be Christian based.  If you don't want to do the "Jesus" thing, hopefully you can find a non-denominational place.  Overall, most of these Christian programs don't force you to be a Christian. Ask.

I cannot stress enough, how crucial it is for you to be a safe place where you drug addict can come to. By that, you need to learn to listen.  If your drug addict can begin to feel that you are listening, and you are wanting to understand, it's a step in the right direction.  I attended four-hour classes on addiction, at my son's treatment center.  I learned so much! 

I will close for now-- and next talk about some of the worst case scenarios of living with with drug addict....from stealing to jail.  I count my many blessings that my son never got arrested-- and believe me, he's had close calls.  My son never resorted to stealing a LOT-- but he certainly conned me into giving him money, and he's dipped into $20.00 here and there.  He's not Mother Theresa!

My son's treatment center told us that B had about a 3% chance of not relapsing.  Opioids are a bitch of a habit to break.  I will never fully understand what that's like.  I do understand that the odds of my son relapsing again....still... over and over again... are very high.  I've known addicts who were clean for 10 plus years, and they relapsed.  Fortunately, the longer they stay clean and understand what to do if they relapse-- they usually clean up and move on.

One of the the biggest misunderstandings/misconceptions that I had so many months ago-- I thought my son would be "cured".  By that, I figured he would go to meetings, get a sponsor and he'd make it.  I pray that drug addiction/alcoholism can find a permanent cure.  For now, we all hope that our addicts will find a treatment program that will help them to find an escape hatch-- when the overwhelming need to use comes knocking.

Drug addiction is a demon-- that waits to pounce, and tempt, and lie and steal.

It's the devil.

SIDE NOTE: It appears that the general consensus is that my son might do better to stay on methadone for an indefinite period of time.  Know what?  It's my son's decision to make.  I have to step back, and let him find his way.  I can never fully understand what he's going through.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How I cope with my son's addiction and a helpful comment

I don't have a lot of time to write this morning, but I feel compelled to quickly type a response to the very passionate and emotional responses about my son's methadone treatment program:

As B's mom, I have accepted that I have no control over my son's addiction.  My purpose in going to his methadone clinic was to ask questions and to learn.  I received materials to read, which I will do over the weekend.

Some of you might have missed a few key points-- which I posted as comments yesterday. Once again:
  • My son doesn't use IV heroin. He freebases it.
  • The program his methadone clinic recommends is called a "Maintenance Program".  It is a six month program. His counselor says this is a baseline, by the way.  It might be sooner, it might be longer. It all depends on my son, really. If he eats healthier, exercise, it helps-- and I do believe this. There are so many variables.
  • The 21-day program is a detox program.  It worked wonders for my son's former best friend. Overall, it's not the most ideal program. This is what my son originally wanted. Obviously, it wasn't what's happening.
  • They feel that, based on my son's young and tender age, and that his heroin use is not as severe as many of their clients, that their goal is not NOT have him on methadone for more than six months.
  • My son is taking between 38-40 mg of methadone, per day. It is dispensed to him, in liquid form.
  • The State of California has implented very strict guidelines is the dispensing of methadone-- unlike many other states.  Any experts os MMT, please be aware of California State Law, before posting your expertise.
  • While my son shows some signs of withdrawals-- runny nose, in particular, he says he is not experiencing any desires to use.

My opinion?  I'm still in the jury room.  I need to read.

I need to go to work, but I wanted to post a comment that was left by someone I consider to be a true blogger friend-- and someone who I think is a very smart dad.   I totally agree with Ron, in that I believe there is no cookie cutter answer to what works for addicts.

I have a lot of ground to cover, but I'm limited on time. I'm working on responding to so many topics that your comments have brought to my attention.  Thank you for the lengthy comments you are leaving.

To Angelo-- I can read the passion in what you write.  How I wish I could give you a hug, and fill your heart with calm.  You write from the perspective of an addict who still has so much pain.  I do read between the lines. I am not dismissing what you have to say-- but I must remain calm and use my common sense.

Bottom line-- it is my son's decision on how long he will do the methadone treatment. For now, I'm going to give the money, from his trust fund-- and that should just about empty it out.  He's got about two months to figure out if he can get on medical (which will pay for it)-- and that would be good for his diabetes treatment he needs.

Every day, I live my life trusting in my faith and promises that God is with me. I have too many miracles and answered prayers to write in two minutes. I know, that he is real.  For that very reason, I must remain calm. I can't panic.  Panic produces knee jerk reactions.

Here's a comment that I hope none of you missed, it's from An Addict in Our Son's Bedroom:

With my limited expeieince and self taught knowledge about drug addiction the one thing I have learned for sure is: there is more than one way out of this morass. I am learning not to fault someone (my son) for doing it his way instead of my way. I have learned he got into this mess, only he can get out of this mess. He is not using meetings, he is not using suboxone, or methadone, not working steps, or doing really anything you read and hear needs to be done. In fact we had a discussion a couple of nights ago about his methodology for staying clean. He summed it up in these words, "Dad, I am just not going to do that again, can't you understand that?" I wish him well, but he is like his father in one sense, he is very strong willed and if he makes his mind up, that is it. Just like dad I guess. Now how long will those methods be effective? I don't know but it is working today. Today is all that counts. There was a time when I was at a point that my belief was if you aren't working a program you aren't really in recovery. I am not there now. I think I have grown in that I am not responsible for his recovery and if he relapses I am not responsible for that either. I am not "owning" his problem any more. Methadone, suboxone or whatever; what works for others is not a "one size fits all". I think it is individual. Compare it to someone with some other disabling disease that cripples ones legs through accident or disease, some never leave a wheelchair, some require crutches and some eventually walk again. Part of it is physiological and part of it may be psychological. It is up to the addict what they need and it seems to work only when they can really work the issue for themselves. In the past I questioned the recovery part of using one chemical to replace another chemical but now my mind is at a place of "what does it matter if it works". Just use the medical professions motto in deciding on the answers: do no harm.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The methadone controvery is a big one!

I wanted to clarify a few things about my son's current use of methadone:
  • I am not an expert on this drug, at all.  Tomorrow morning, I am meeting with my son and his drug counselor at the methadone clinic.  If I am going to agree to use the small amount of money, left in his trust fund, to fund this-- I want answers.
  • The clinic he is going to is reputable.  It's run by a non-profit that I am very familiar with. Our school district contracts their counseling services, and I'm impressed with their counselors.
  • In order to take his daily "dose", my son has to take random UA's. So far, he's taken three.
  • My son is scared of methadone. He is fully aware of the dangers-- believe me, he's run the list down for me. His own counselor says that the maximum length of time my son should be on the program is six months. My son is going for three.
  • Once my son is off methadone, I am fully aware-- as is he, that he could be highly vulnerable to wanting to use.

Obviously, he doesn't want this. I am going to ask a lot of questions and take notes. I'll share what I learn.

In a perfect world--
  • My son would go to meetings, on a regular basis (he's sporadic). 
  • B would not need any kind of prescription meds to deal with his insomnia, stress or opiate addiction.
  • My son could come home to live with us, and go to college and work part time.
  • B would use his outgoing personality skills to become a counselor, and to tell his story to others.
For those of you who wonder why my son can't come home to live with us--

One of the best things I did for B, was to make him move out. My son is beginning to appreciate what he had, by losing it. He doesn't have a comfy home with all the amenities. He cannot afford to go out and eat, buy clothes or have cable TV. His life is very humble, indeed.  He's had to deal with bad roommates, and having his power cut off for not paying it on time.

My son is learning life skills. 

As for his not living in our home-- there is peace again. The constant drama began to affect my marriage.  I got to the point that every time I saw black smudges on door jams, I suspected it was black tar heroin residue.  I found myself searching his pockets for foils; if I found them, it made me sick to my stomach.

With my son not living with me, I do not have to get sucked into his world of addiction.  He is welcome to have dinner with us, or wash a load of laundry.

What I see as positives steps is that my son is working, and he's beginning to adjust to a life at poverty level.  This is not easy, but I think this is very necessary.

Maybe, if my son can stay sober long enough-- and I see some responsibility... we can discuss his going to college and having a job.

Truthfully, I hope that my son will find sobriety and remain on his own.  It's how our kids learn to mature, and I won't be tempted to fall into codependency and enabling him.

PERSONAL NOTE TO ANGELO:  I have read your passionate comments about the dangers of methadone. I'm sorry that you've know many people who OD'd on it.  Actually, I know plenty of success stories. Angelo, it's like any kind of therapy--  one must be responsible with it, know the dangers and risks, and then it's up to them to make the choice.  Suboxone didn't work for him  I think his heroin use had gone on too long, and was too much. So far, the boy that I know and love is beginning to return. I take it one day at a time.
'Nuff said.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hindsight is 20/20 vision - Wheeling & Dealing

 Yesterday, I spent a great deal of time with my son.  It started with meeting him at McDonald's for a quick breakfast. Foodie that I am, I rarely eat fast food; there are days,though, when an Egg McMuffin just does the trick.  My son ordered three of them, and a glass of orange juice-- and he ate them with relish. I nibbled on one of them, just taking in the presence of my son. His eyes look normal, and not the dull look he once had.
FLASHBACK:  I am a single mother, trying to raise a seven year old boy on no alimony or child support.  I was self-employed, and had a 2-year lease on my business site.  Eating out was such a rare luxury for them, at that time.  How times have changed, I thought to myself, as I paid the bill without blinking an eye.
Back to breakfast-- my son was really, hungry.  We talked about anything and everything. I've noticed that conversation flows so much easier, now. Our relationship is better than it's ever been, but it's taken 8 years of drama to get where we are, today.  Seeing my son, at that moment, fills my heart with so much gratitude and love for him.  I feel as though my son is listening to me-- and that he values my opinions. I try not to give my opinions (of which I have many) unless he asks.  I try to relate with him, and at how wreckless and irresponsible I was at his age. My son told me he was broke, because he didn't get much work. He showed me receipts that he paid to get his car fixed.  He showed me his pay stub-- $400.00 for three weeks of work. Ouch. When it rains hard, there's no one using golf carts-- so he gets time off, without pay. He never asked me for money.  He was sharing his financial dire straights with me, and I didn't feel any kind of manipulation.  This is a new road we are on!

My son admitted to me that he is trying to be better in managing his blood sugars. The meter he is using is old and I told him I'd buy him a new one. I also decided to spend $50.00 on groceries for him-- just some basics and a few pantry ingredients he can use to make easy recipes. My son is too thin, and needs to eat healthier foods. My son is also earning how to cook, which makes me very happy!  He was very grateful. When he got off work, at 5pm, he came to my house and off we headed to the shopping center.  Using the dwindling trust fund he has, we bought about $100.00 worth of groceries and things he needed for his apartment.  I could see my son pick something up, on impulse, think about it and then put it back.  The same thing happened when shopping for clothes-- my son, who snubbed anything but designer clothes-- picked out a dress shirt, pants and the least expensive belt, on sale. I offered him a pair of dress shoes (knowing he didn't have any), and he picked out the cheapest pair he could find.

This is my son-- who used to have a closet stuffed full of designer clothes and a wide array of expensive shoes! This is my son who has bought and sold at least a half dozen different video game machines-- not to mention dozens of games, themselves! When I'd question where he got the items, I got answers ranging from "my dad bought them", so "I traded something for them" and even "I sold my video games".  Big red flags, that I didn't know how to handle. Maybe, even, I didn't want the confrontation. Sound familiar?

Here's a hint to parents, whose kids suddenly come home with things you don't remember buying for them--  your son just might be selling drugs.  I never imagined my son would resort to this, but he did. He's even admitted to me that there was a time he he remembers seeing me crying. I could not afford to pay my rent, and I had no idea how I would provide for my son and me.  I was falling apart with fear and worry. B told me he felt bad, because he had a couple thousand dollars, in cash, stashed in his closet.  He said he wanted to give me money, but he didn't know how to explain how he got it. Worse, he still expected an allowance from me!

In order to fund my son's growing addiction to oxycontin, he got involved in dealing in on a very large scale.  My son was 16 years old, and had just gotten his license and a car.  The car was paid for from his trust fund-- it cost $5000.00.   By the way, my son kept his curfews.  He always checked in with me. Drug Dealers are very crafty.  I never even knew what my son was up to. He was very good at living a secret life. If I got too close to the truth, he'd become verbally combative. Sometimes the fights would escalate, I'd blow my cool and tell my son to leave... or to move in with his dad, if he was with me.  HINDSIGHT: That's an addicts technique-- blow up, get angry and move attention away from the issue. If they can make YOU feel like you're the hysterical idiot, they won.  They diverted getting busted. Listen to me! I know this!

I've mentioned before, that I work at a public high school.  I hear the rumors, from faculty, that a certain student is suspected of drug dealing.  Some get caught, others seem to slip away from being busted.  What I notice is that their cellphone is always going off. 

Parents-- Let me recap the clues that I didn't pick up on.  My son confirms how much I missed-- and he got away with this for four years.  He started selling weed, at the age of 13.  He said, had I looked hard, I would have found the scale, the baggies and maybe even a stash of money.

  • If your student is failing school, wake up!  Contact each teacher, and ask why their student is failing.  If the teacher doesn't call back (or doesn't reply to emails), then contact your student's counselor.  If you still don't get a response, then go to the principal.  At my high school, parents get responded to.
  • If your high school (or middle school) has your student's grades online, be sure that you check the grades.  I am appalled at how many parents don't bother to check, online!  Our software program will even email a weekly progress report-- or daily, if you set it up that way. Ask!
  • Many high schools send automated "absence" calls.  If possible, ask the attendance office to send the calls to your cellphone. Kids are known to intercept phone calls, and mail. Stay on top of it!
  • When you ask your kid why they aren't doing well in school, the odds are they will lie.  My son always had an excuse-- "Oh, the teacher fixed that grade."  "The teacher lost my homework, but he/she is fixing it".  "The teacher hates me". "I lost my assignment".  If your kid is using drugs, they are going to learn how to lie so convincingly that you will believe them. Keep looking, and hold your kid accountable.
  • Why does your kid need a cellphone? Check the bill!  Remove texting, thank you very much.  Texting is a secret world, in high schools.  When staff confiscates a cellphone, students become hysterical. Admin reads the texts, and have discovered a lot of things this way.  In looking back, my son was constantly on his cellphone.  It was his "office".  Had I looked, he had TONS of phone numbers. Take the cellphone away!  They'll hate you for it, but it's a small start.  It won't solve the problem, but why enable it?
I'll stop here, for today. There's so much more to cover-- like signs I missed that were clues that my son was high/using.  The things I wish I hadn't said. The things that just didn't work. The tricks my son played on me that convinced he was clean-- and he wasn't.  So much more to come...

To those of you parents who can relate to what I've written-- what clues did you miss?  Please share them, in comments, so that we can help others who are so new to this Dark World.

NOTE:  I received a comment from someone who wondered if my son is lying to me, and he's really using. Here's my honest answer-- there are no guarantees that my son isn't using and hiding it. Addicts are very clever.  I do believe that my son is clean-- only because of methadone-- and because I see clear signs in the things my son says, the way he dresses, the gansta slang is gone, and the fact he has no friends. He's lonely. I cannot leave each day in fear.  I leave each day in hope.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Genesis: From the Beginning - Discovery

My son just turned 21, as I am writing this. When B was 17, on my wedding day to his soon-to-be-stepfather, I had no idea that my son was high. He was snorting oxycontin, and his habit had gotten really out of control. I found out, the day that we returned from our honeymoon. My son came to me, and said he needed to talk to me. He looked scared. I shut the door to our office, as I remember my son sitting on the futon couch.

"Mom, I have a problem".

He told me that he was using oxycontin and that he was in trouble. He owed some scary people money, and he was afraid.

I'll stop right here.

I had suspected that my son was spiraling into behavior that seemed very strange to me. My son was living at his father's house. B's grades were below a 1.0 GPA. This is a kid who is very intelligent, and could easily earn a 3.0. I never expected my son to have a 4.0. My son is a lot like I was in school. I just wasn't academically motivated, though I never thought I was stupid.

At last, my son was about to spill the beans and reveal the truth behind his erratic behavior.

What I most remember about that night, was thinking to myself "calm down". I calmly listened to my son's story. I didn't blow up. I didn't get angry. I'd been working on my anger management problem, after all! My son was so relieved that I didn't get mad. I gave him the $300.00 he needed and took it out of his trust account.

What I did from then is very much a blur. In looking back, I think I froze with not knowing what to do. My son said he would quit using oxycontin, and I believed him. I never took the time to learn about oxycontin. I never took the time to learn about drug addiction.

I was in denial.

My son continued to use oxycontin, sell oxycontin and he earned thousands of dollars doing it. Now that I look back, I see all of the signs that my son was living way beyond his means. His father had no clue, either.

Here's Classic Mistake #1 that I made-- I blamed his dad. I blamed me. I questioned my ability as a mother. I blamed his friends.

Here's what I know now-- Addiction takes hostages. It's not my fault that my son is an addict. It's not my ex's fault, ether. My son's friends played a role in this, but nobody forced my son to chop up a pain killer and snort it. My son made that choice.

My deepest regret is that I stayed ignorant about drug addiction for as long as I did. Ironically, I work at a high school-- in the counseling office, no less! I'm not a counselor, but I am an assistant-- and I talk to students all the time. I talk to parents all the time. Often times, I see kids being busted for drug possession and/or alcohol. I see the cops handcuffing the students and driving off with them. I know when they are suspended, and I often know the parents-- or I eventually do. More often, than not, these very parents behave just like I did. They believe what their kids tell them. They think it's been nipped in the bud. They blame the school, their friends, their exes. I offer them my story, and they don't take it.

My next installment-- my own wisdom on what to do, and to not do, when you find out your kid is using drugs.  I have a question for you--

What did you do when you first found out that your loved one was using?  If you're an addict, reading this-- if you finally told your parent, how did you do it. How did they react?

Until then-- thank you for reading. Please know that you can email me, privately, if you wish at: or please leave a comment.