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.


clean and crazy said...

such an amazing and touching post. my mother never told me how much she was tormented by my using. i guess she thought i didn't need to know. i miss her so much, it has been two years and sometimes i sit and read the parent blogs and wonder if she ever felt this way, if she ever thought these very thoughts, mostly i read these blogs to be closer to her now. she never shared these thoughts with me not even in anger. she just bottled it all up inside and put a cork in it. my oldest is the same way i swear sometimes she is like a pressure cooker about to BLOW!! she doesn't have a cell phone i don't believe kids need one. or a car i told her she could get a car when she graduates college and has a good enough job to pay for a brand new one, if i got her a used car it would just be a distraction from studying. she would need money for gas, money for maintenance, money for insurance and off to the dead end job she goes... no way she doesn't need a car until she is done with school.
you are so much stronger then my mom she was afraid of feeling any more. i am so glad to hear so much hope in this post you deserve all the blessings life has to offer.

Anonymous said...

Methadone is very successful in treating opiate addiction. it is an opiate actually and stays in the body a long time. I've been taking methadone myself for a couple of years. Im 40 have been on opiates for pain since 25 after a serious accident. I've never married, only had 3 jobs,live on my own. Vicodin and Oxy really wasnt working anymore so i got on Methadone. Only need 3 pills a day instead of 7 or 8. They aren't evil drugs they do help very well when used correctly. Its the ones who abuse them that make it evil and they make it hard for ones who truly need them. I hate to see kids like B get hurt, they cant help it if they get addicted. I know i am. They do take away the pain. But i'll probably be taking them forever. However i dont over do it. I work everyday and keep myself busy. No one would ever know i'm taking opiates.
Well it sounds to me B is not using. Since he was addicted to opiates Methadone should work well for him. Just keep an eye on him, make sure hes busy and always has something to do.
God Bless

Heather's Mom said...

Debby, good to hear your son seems to be handling himself well. What a great post - talking about the past with the knowledge from the present!
Hind-sight is 20/20. Once I KNEW what was going on, everything fell into place.

The one thing I can add - is the thing I'm most embarrassed about - when the principal, other kid's parents, other kid's parents yelling in your driveway with the police, the assistant principal - when any or all of these people let you know your kid is doing drugs... THIS IS A SIGN!

Don't do what I did: accuse THEIR kid of being a spoiled brat liar, demand proof - no proof??? - hah!, the OTHER KIDS are out to get my daughter b/c they are jealous of her... my daughter is an honor student & a cheerleader!... it's that OTHER girl that's been hanging around her...

My denial was so great.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I've really enjoyed (is that the right word?) the last couple of posts. They are so eye opening and honest and I thank you.


Cheri said...


I want to encourage you with the new direction of your blog ~ what an incredible wealth of information for parents and addicts alike. I could identify with everything you wrote! Everything! In fact, it brought back so many memories... Wow!

When our son got clean, it was evident first in his eyes. They had been dead, and they were alive again. You could even see it in pictures; people remarked on it all the time. And the whole relationship and attitude changed, just as you have described. Keep living in hope. Live in the moment. (If our addicts relapse, there will be plenty of time for remorse; don't waste valuable time on it today.)

What did I miss? Oh my, probably more than I will ever know! I was in denial like Heather's mom; it was the "other" kid. Our son was smoking pot in the bedroom above my own, and I had no clue. Our daughters who lived at home at the time knew before I did. By the time I stopped denying that he was using pot, he was way into other stuff ~ oxycontin, cocaine. I'm still learning of some of the things he did (and he'll be sober four years in June), and it scares the daylights out of me to know he came so close to destruction so many times, and I was basically clueless.

All I can say is: Parent, NEVER think it won't happen to you and your child. We homeschooled, and I had a naive thought that it would protect my son from all the "bad" influences "out there." Well, not only did he find the bad influences, he became one of them, and he led many of his homeschooled friends down the wrong path. I know this by his own admission.

Knowing hurts; but choosing not to know could kill your child, and it won't keep it from happening. Ignorance will not make the problem go away; what you do not know can hurt you!

Debby, thank you again,

Angelo said...

Your such a very good writer. You also always remind me of what I put my own parents through. Pure hell. I wish I could make it up to them.
I don't think B is using only because of the methadone. His financial situation won't let him either. Now, one think I want to mention is with methadone you can use and get away with it. What I mean is if B gets paid and has enough for the rent food etc and has 3 days worth of "get high" money he can get high for 3 days then when he has no more money he can just continue with his methadone and feel normal like he never got high those 3 days. This is basically the only reason why I like suboxone over methadone. Suboxone will bloke the effects of getting high. You can't get high. The suboxone blocks the drug at the receptor site. Methadone does the same thing but at high doses. Usually over 60mg. I'm think it depends on the person though. At 60mh I would do heroin and still feel it. After saying that I still believe B is doing the right thing just from what you were saying. If he was using even on occassion I believe he wouldn't be checking his blood sugars like he has been. I hope he really starts to take that seriously. It really damages the body when your sugars are regularly high. As he has more and more clean time I believe he would pay more attention to this. Have I mentioned if B would be interested in getting his CDL license to drive a truck? There are alot of jobs everywhee for truck drivers and they usually pay a decent wage that you can live on. Truck driving school cost about $2,000 to $3,000 and would be a great investment from the trust fund. School is only about 3 weeks full time and your CDL license is assured after going through school.


Anonymous said...

OMG...i read this like I was reading my life. My son is still in denial, but I see all of the signs. I need help and don't know where to turn. He came over today and I could tell he had been using. Uuuggghhh...I cant do this anymore. how much longer can he?! :((

Anonymous said...

It has been apparent for a long time that my beloved grandson is an addict. Started with pot and apparently has reared it's ugly head with oxycotin. No health insurance. Any suggestions??