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.


Anonymous said...

I remember the day that I first heard that my son was using drugs. A mother of one of his friend's courageously informed me that my son was "going over the edge" with drug experimentation. I immediately called his father, who we no longer lived with, and his response was "All kids experiment...". I told my son what I knew and that I was going to take him to a clinic the next day for a UA. The UA came back "diluted, no traces". What? The clinic explained that he must have had lots of water in the past 24 hours. Really? At age 17 my son already was learning the art of lying and deceit of an addict.I dropped it and never followed up with another UA until years later. Now eight years later my son is a heroin addict, in and out of recovery. My sanity has been challenged every step of the way. Only now am I beginning to "get it".
Thanks Debby. I so appreciate your blog.

Dad and Mom said...

Looking back it is so easy to see signs and all of the what if's come to mind.

It is good you are re-counting all of this for pople just entering the world of a parent with an addicted child.

My only wish is we could find the way to reach the parent before the neccesity of them grasping for help.

Just how do you educate those parents living in the world of "not my kids, they weren't raised that way". THIS CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE!!!

Cheri said...

"Dad" is so right. This can happen to anyone. Sometimes our worst enemy is our denial and the rose-colored glasses we insist on wearing.

Hubby and I have two sons who got involved in drug addiction. Like you, we'd noticed behavioral changes in both of them... behaviors which we chose to ignore until we couldn't any longer. Our discoveries were years apart, as our oldest son is six years older than his sibling.

We received a phone call about Son #1, from his youth pastor, who said he feared D was abusing drugs. We confronted D, who denied it, of course. We believed him and left the issue alone. But we couldn't deny his personality changes of the past six months. Finally it was too obvious to ignore. We confronted him again. He denied it and left home, for good, just cut us out of his life. He was eighteen, so we had no recourse to force him home. It was messy and ugly. We blamed his mother (he is my stepson), his girlfriend, and him. We blamed ourselves. Blame was the name of the game. We were angry. It was not pretty.

Our knee-jerk reaction was to "tighten security" at home. Our other three children would NEVER do to us what No. 1 did.

We began to see signs in Son #2, and again we ignored them for way too long. This couldn't be happening again, could it? Didn't he listen to all our lectures after his brother got in trouble? We talked to No. 2, and he was a smooth-talker. We chose to believe him. We didn't educate ourselves; we didn't need to. This wasn't happening.

When it could be ignored no longer, we confronted No. 2, did a drug-test which proved he was using marijuana and oxycontin, plus other stuff, and gave him the ultimatum to get help or get out. He chose help. He went through Teen Challenge, a faith-based drug rehab, and he'll be sober four years in June.

No. 1 is married now, with three kids of his own. I guess his drug use might have been more experimental than addiction, because life seems to have "grown him out of it," whereas No. 2 needed rehab to kick it.

Debby, you're doing an awesome job with your blog. It will minister to many parents.

Blessings and prayers,

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

Cheri, thank you so much! You expressed, so well, how I (mis)handled the discovery that my son was using drugs. I didn't face the demon. I believed my son's denial. I'm so glad that you wrote what you did. It is so much the truth-- and more parents need to listen to us-- the parents who who slow to learn and to accept.

Joyfulsister said...

Our Kids face so much in these times, and addiction is no respector of person, young or old, man, woman, and child. I work with Women in rehab and I know they did not wake up one day and said I want to be an addict. It happens over time and used to hide a the real down deep issues in their lives. I pray not just for them but for their children, and families. I see so many grandparents raising their grandchildren because their daughters and sons are on drugs. Tjhere comes a point to where you can do nothing else but pray for them and leave them in God's hands until they realize when they are so down all they can do is look up.

Blessings Lorie

Angelo said...

I didn't get a chance to read your post yest. I just read what I could before I had to click to read the rest. I just wanted to say I think me and B share a birthday. My birthday was Feb 1st. I notice you said B just turned 21 as you were typing you message and it was dated Feb 1st. I wish him many many more healthy and drug free birthdays and I wish for you the same. I really am sincere when I say that.


clean and crazy said...

i don't know when i told my mom i was using, but when i told her it wasn't that i had a 'problem' it was what i needed to function and when i didn't have it i couldn't function and my wonderful parents, the enablers that they were ignored it so well. it wasn't until my dad died and i stuck a needle in my arm that i finally hit my bottom and that was a whole year of hell before i even did that.

Heather's Mom said...

Debby, wrote a long comment yesterday - whole story - either it messed up posting or you declined it (I'm sure that was it - lol). I'm taking it as the story I wrote (previously unsaid incidents from Heather's life) wasn't supposed to be published.

So I'll just comment that I'm here with you and think this is a great thing you're doing handling your blog this way.

Two words I can relate to - denial and blame - and only with education through the blogs and Al-Anon did I get past them.

God bless.