Saturday, April 24, 2010

So far, so good and updates on B's addiction

Dear Readers, Family & Friends,

I'm sorry for my silence.  I hardly have time to post on my food blog, let alone here. Still, I think it's worthwhile to update those of you who read my blog (thank you) on how my son is doing. Since I haven't blogged in close to two weeks, I'll do my best to share things I hope will help others-- hopefully to give hope and to share what I am learning during this process:

B moved in two weeks ago, today.  My husband and I had a meltdown over it.  "C" had his share of worries and not wanting my son to come home...all perfectly understandable. His fear was that B would come here and pull the same crap that he had before. C said that he didn't want an addict in the house, because he didn't want the addict behavior that goes with it.  I've never heard my husband hiss such anger at me before, so I was really taken aback.  Fortunately, I kept my short-temper in check.  I gritted my teeth, and as I headed to work I did what helps me the most-- I talked to God in fervent prayer. I prayed that God would soften my husband's heart so that C could find forgiveness for my son.

I have blogged plenty of my son's lies, manipulations and relapses on this blog. Those of us who are experienced parents of drug addicts know that addicts are master manipulators. They lie so easily that they actually believe what they say to be the truth.  Despite the heartache my son has put me through, I still love him. My son has his mother's unconditional love.  However, I've come a very long way in the last two years.  I have learned that for me to say "no" to my son comes easier.

While praying, I was filled with such love for my husband. He is a wonderful person, with a kind spirit and I am very lucky to be his wife.  I realized that the root of the problem is that my son isn't his own flesh and blood. C didn't know my son, until he was almost sixteen years old.  At that time, neither one of us knew my son had an addiction to opiates. Neither one of us had even heard of oxycontin.  My son was also a typical teenager-- rebellious, disrespectful... added to the fact he was a drug dealer, my relationship with him wasn't the best. I was very frustrated with my son, and he went to live with his father.

For those of you who are new to my blog-- my son was living in a very dark world.  He was involved with very dangerous people, who have ties with local gangs. No, my son never joined a gang. But, he was dealing drugs in their turf.   I thank God, every day, for his mercy on my son. It is truly a miracle that my son never got arrested. It is equally a miracle that he didn't get shot or stabbed.  Sometimes my son tells me horror stories of close calls, and I can't bear to hear it.

I tell you this, because I can understand why my husband had a meltdown about letting my son come home.  By the Grace of God, C and I had a heart-to-heart talk-- I explained that I understood why it's so easy for him to dismiss my son. B isn't his own child, and he never played a role in raising him.  On the other hand, I explained to him my heartache and love for my son-- and why I can't give up on him. I listened to C's side of the story, and I can understand his frustration about addictive behavior. Both C and I came out of relationships with alcoholics, so we've had our own personal war stories that have left us both with war wounds.

C agreed to allow B to stay with us for one month.  That night, I sat quietly, while C told my son his honest doubts and fears about him coming to our house.  C's final words to B were "let's give it a month, and see what happens from there."

B hasn't been a problem, so far. His work hours differ from ours, so we only see him for an hour or two, before we retire to bed. What is different, this time, is that B is home. His cellphone barely rings at all. When he comes straight home, from work, he stays in his room.  When B was using, he was always leaving the house or sitting in his car (to smoke heroin).  His cellphone was constantly going off.

As for B's behavior-- he is, once again,  the kid I know. His speech is normal and articulate. He's in a good mood and has not been disrespectful at all. His hygiene is much better.  His diabetes is better, in that he doesn't have high blood sugars as much.  For a Type I diabetic, stress can make blood sugars soar to dangerous levels.

Money-- this is my son's greatest challenge. The good news is, I'm confident he isn't buying illegal drugs, because he would not have been able to pay his rent etc. B lived in poverty, though.  After paying his rent, he could barely afford to buy food and he had to pay gas money to people to drive him around. His clothes are looking worn-out, as are his shoes. I can see why the temptation to deal drugs is hard to give up, because back in those days, my son had all kinds of expensive shoes and electronic toys.  It's been a real eye-opener to him, but B says he is glad to be away from "the game".  Still, I see that my son borrows money to get by until his next paycheck. The problem is, something unexpected happens, and he finds himself broke on payday-- after paying back his cash advance places and friends. I find some comfort in knowing that my son pays back his debts. Still, I wish my son would understand the concept that if you have to borrow money, that you are living beyond your own means.

Last-- my son's sobriety.  This is one of the biggest debates between my husband and me.  C thinks that as long as my son is methadone, that he isn't clean.  C is frustrated that my son isn't going to a 12-step program.
Let me reiterate my feelings on methadone and sobriety-- which is subject to change:


First, I think that the 12-Step program is brilliant.  The 12-steps do make total sense to me. I like that it is a  Higher Power based program.  Spirituality is good. I believe in the God of the Holy Bible, so I know the power that comes from my faith.  I have been to 12-step meetings, about a dozen times.  However, the 12-step program doesn't have 100% success with addiction, of any kind.  I've been to some meetings that were quite good, and to other meetings where I couldn't leave quick enough-- maybe it was disorganized, or the leadership wasn't very good. I struggle with listening to people whining and complaining, as I've blogged about before. If this format works for you, I'm truly happy for you! It didn't help me at all. In fact, my blog and other blogs like mine are where I've gotten the best support-- and that's a fact. That is not to say that I will never try a 12-step again.  We shall see..

The 12-Step program folks do not condone the use of methadone.  Many of you have left comments that say methadone was equally addicting as the heroin you were addicted to.  I don't disagree. For that reason, B says he doesn't want to go to a 12-step while he is using methadone. He fears being criticized if he lets that fact slip out. This is what I told my husband:

Finding sobriety is, in many ways, similar to my struggle to control my own weight.  I am an emotional eater, and always have been-- I know that my weight struggles stem from my childhood abuse.  My perfectionism, to be the best at baking and cooking, comes from self-esteem issues. Consequently, my weight has yo-yo'd for most of my adult life.  I have a sugar addiction-- which is similar to what drugs to the brain.  Sugar gets the endorphins going, and that is why sugar was forbidden in my son's rehab program.  I digress.  People who have a severe weight problem have, most likely, tried many kinds of diets, starvation, gyms and such-- have lost weight and then gained it all back. In essence, I've done that and relapsed back into my old habits. I've lost and gained weight many times over.  Fortunately, I'm not dangerously obese. My point is that there are some people who are so desperately to lose weight, that they have to resort to having gastric bypass surgery.  Their lives will forever change, after this drastic surgery.

Methadone, to me, is that drastic last resort for opiate addicts. Unfortunately, my son feels that the 12-step programs (in our small community) don't work for him. Unlike large cities, B has a small and limited choice of meetings. He knows many of the people who go-- and, he says, many of them are still using. They are there because of a court order. B says he doesn't want to see his former  "homies".  Okay, I can see his point.

The way I see it is-- my son isn't buying illegal drugs.  Methadone costs $350.00 at his clinic.  The counseling services aren't stellar, though.  B's counselor just left the area, and B doesn't like his new one.  The good thing is, this clinic has B on a very low dose of methadone... very low.  The goal is to begin tapering him off in two months.  It's what B says he wants.

The reality is-- I am concerned if this is really going to happen, as B plans. Will  my son be able to quit using methadone and not go back to using heroin?  God only knows. 

I do wish that my son would have a positive experience at an NA meeting.  I pray that he will find a sponsor so that my son will go into a true full sobriety status.  Ideally, I would hope to see my son find the skills and support to say "no" to someone tempting him to use-- or when life gets tough, that my son won't resort to getting high to take life's pains away.  

For now, I see that methadone has helped my son to function as an employee. He has worked for seven months, barely missing any work at all. This is huge!  

I am not rejoicing in my son's sobriety 100%.  I know that the methadone is what is keeping him from buying heroin.  For now, I continue to keep the communication open with my son.  I am happy that our relationship is calmer and closer.  I can see that my son is lonely for friendship, but he says he finally sees that having drug addicts as roommates doesn't work.

As for my marriage-- C and I are doing well.  We don't fight. C apologized for his anger, and I apologized for my reaction.  My son gives us privacy and respects our home, by staying in his room most of the time. I see my husband's heart growing more compassionate. This is God's work, I know it.

Sorry I wrote such a long post. I really do need to make time to post more often, and not so lengthy. There is so much I want to journal about. I really want to reach people who are looking for hope and for answers. I'm not an expert at all.  I'm just a mom who loves her Lord and Savior...who draws on her faith...and who has learned the power of forgiveness.  Because of these things, I have never given up hope on my son.

One day at a time...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sleeping on it...

These are my son's eyelashes.  It's not fair that I haven't been able to find mascara-- at any price-- that would make my own lashes this big!  I took this photo of my son, yesterday, while he was napping on the couch.

Just a few quick comments, after reading many of yours:
  • While it might seem that I could be "controlling" when I say my son needs to pay rent...and that I'd be upset if I see him buying electronic toys while he lives with us-- this is what I asked my son-- "B, is it fair that you stepdad and I are paying 2/3 of your methadone treatment and you go out and buy an X-Box?"  My son paused...and quietly said, "you're right".  We are allowing B to move back home to give him a hand UP... to help him get financially on his feet so that he can go out and rent a room somewhere.  He will have money to spend, but it won't be a lot. He has debt to take care of, and he wants that.
  • To "Anonymous", who said that methadone was far worse than suboxone... I appreciate your candor.  However, if you read more of my blog, you would know that my son tried it and it didn't work. The level of opiates he used, and for the length of time didn't work.  Bottom line-- I have come to believe that there is no cookie cutter solution to help addicts stay in recover.  It is up to each individual.  I can only say that methadone is working for my son-- and I am fully aware that he could very well become dependent on methadone for the rest of his life. I hope not, but this is my son's own battle.
  • I can't remember who suggested this, but it's a brilliant idea-- my son will pay rent money to his step dad That way, he can't manipulate mom.  My husband thought that was terrific!
For those of you who are just jumping on to my blog, my two year anniversary was on April 7th, when I first started to journal my journey as the mother of a Drug Addict.  The last two posts discuss my son's latest drama, and that he needs to come home. I am responding back to some comments (above).
So, here we are-- my son will move in on Tuesday.  I am very proud of how well my husband handled the talk with my son.  I didn't interrupt, and let my husband say what was on his mind.  B listened. I could see the tears welling in his eyes-- and they are the kind of tears that he couldn't stop. 

I can only hope and pray, that my son has learned how hard life is on it's own.  He's had roommates rip him off, he's been robbed. He's had a roommate commit suicide (one year ago).  He's been fired from a job, gotten another, been rehired and has been there for six months. He's gone without much food, no cable TV and he sorely could use some new work clothes. He's had dirty laundry, he couldn't afford to clean. He's very lonely and has no friends-- because he's distanced himself from the circle of friends he used with.

My attitude is that my son has a new beginning with us. I told him that it's up to him to prove to his step dad that he isn't using illegal drugs.  He's been given a thorough discussion on what the house rules are.  My husband said he'd give him one month and then "we'll see what happens".

It's up to my son, as to what happens next. 

As to why I published this photo of my son-- I never tire of watching him sleep. It's what moms do. I still see that sweet little boy, and I pray he has come home to mature and to start over with us.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sleeping on it, and fine-tuning decisions...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments, suggestions and advice.

First, a few more vital details to help all of you understand how I will base my final decisions on my son:

The amount owed to my son's apartment management is $4,000.  Yes, that's right!  $2K is back rent, with HUGE fines added to it. My son paid his share of the rent, and I know this-- because I was the one who bought the money when my son would give me the cash.  The remaining $2K is the penalty for breaking his lease.  B's ex-roommate is legally responsible, too. But, it will be a matter of tracking him down and if my son will actually go through the process of suing him.  My son can look forward to having 25% of his wages garnished.  Tom suggested what I already had-- and that's what my son went in to do, yesterday. He went in to ask if he could make payments on the back rent.  The answer was "no".  This complex is corporate business.

The free advice that my son was given, by his family attorney, was good-- the attorney said "the next time you rent a place, don't sign a lease unless you can afford to pay all of the rent yourself".  Amen.  My son, hopefully, will take this valuable advice to heart. Actually, his credit is ruined for many years, so he won't be able to rent from a place like that for a very long time.

My son's car-- my son could sell the car for $3500.00, easily.  I am picking B up in 45 minutes to take the car into the repair shop, again.  From what the mechanic says, it's the oil cooler.  He's a family friend and he is trustworthy. If it's less than $200.00 to fix, then his dad is going to pay it.  We'll slap a FOR SALE sign on it, and B will pay his dad back, from the money he gets for it. If the car costs more than that to fix, then it's time to junk it. It's ironic that his father is such an expert with cars-- he restores CanAm race cars and knows a lot about mechanics.  Why his dad picked this particular model of car, puzzles me.  I hoped my son would, instead, by an inexpensive and dependable car like a Toyota. I think B is over wanting a sporty looking car, now. This one has been a real pain.

Now then-- C and I talked about my son coming back to our home. Actually, C started the conversation, and I listened.  C is afraid that B will get too comfortable, here, and overstay his welcome. He wants him to be here for a "couple of weeks".  I listened, though my son needs more than 2 weeks to get back on his feet.

I read many of your comments to my husband.  He listened.  Two phrases, that really stood out (thank you Ron and Lisa) is that we need to decide if we are giving B a hand OUT or a hand UP.  My son is also in his RECOVERY stage, and not ADDICTION.  I reminded my husband that B  it is apparent that he is no longer using drugs. If he was, he would NOT have paid any rent, and been evicted long ago. Plus, C has bought his own groceries and paid friends gas money to get him to work.  The methadone is working for him, Amen.

Plus, I give kudos for my son for putting up with an abusive and unethical boss. B goes to work, on time, rain or shine. He works hard.

My husband has very valid concerns, and the three of us need to sit and talk about it, today.  Some of C's concerns, as I understand them are:
  • Manipulative behavior - mainly over money.
  • Manipulating his mom into doing this for him.
  • Laziness - my husband is a hard worker. 
  • Lies - obviously, this comes easily for drug addicts.
He is also concerned that I give in too easily to my son, though he understands why-- that I love my son unconditionally. NOTE: Our pastor recently said "the definition of loving someone unconditionally means that you can love them, despite their own dysfunction".  Amen.

C has agreed that my son needs help.  It looks like we are going to allow B to come home, but we need to come to some very specific guidelines. I'm the kind of person who writes things down, and my son will read it and sign it.

The reason I WILL charge my son rent is this--  he needs to have "ownership" of the cost of living.  HOWEVER,  3/4 of the rent will go into a savings account. That money will be paid towards the next room he rents.  1/4 of it, will (barely) cover the cost of his living here.  B will have to buy some of his own groceries-- like his sodas that he is addicted to and he drinks enough milk to support a dairy farm.

He will now be able to pay for his car insurance and gas, with what he makes.
He will pay a certain amount of his paycheck back to reduce his debt. I will make sure that happens, because he will give the money to me.

I will also tell him that since we are helping him get back on his feet, that I don't want to see a new X-Box or new "toys" with the money he is saving, by living with us. Yes, he should be able to go to a movie, or buy a new pair of shoes etc.  Everyone should have a reward for their hard work and honest money. I told my son that I would resent it if my son lived off us to indulge in "things". He needs to save money and become debt-free.

There will be a cap on how long he can stay with us, though.  Of course, if we find any signs of drug use, he leaves immediately.

B says he is 110% willing to comply.  Of course, C is wary that my son will do that.

I understand. There is always a "honeymoon" period, when a kid returns home.  Let's hope that my son has really changed enough to learn the value of integrity.

I feel bad, though, that I heard my husband get up at 4:30am.  He got dressed and went into the living room to watch TV.  I knew he was worried/upset about my son coming back.  God help us!

I'd better get ready to pick him up.  I value your feedback, advice, support and comments. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My son's second bottom

Oh, boy. Here we go. My son's life has definitely hit an all-time low. I feel so bad for him, and yet I still see this had to happen.

My son is getting kicked out of his apartment.  He got served ten days ago, but didn't take seriously that he had five days in which to respond. We kept telling him to handle it, but he didn't.  That's how my son rolls-- what I see in him is that when life gets really hard, he curls up into a ball.  He can't face it.  Oh, he talks tough, but he's not a violent person in any way.  It's what one of his traits that I know and love.

He finally caught the apartment manager (and the office is rarely open, as it should be).  He explained his situation, and he has paid his share of the rent. Bottom line, he has until the 14th to get out of his apartment...maybe less. My son was told that the sheriff would come to remove him.   He finally went to see an attorney, who is a good friend of his dad's.  The attorney told me that since he missed the five day window to respond, he has no defense.  His roommate-- who split on him, and is on the lease-- basically gets away with it.  His former roommate is nowhere to be found  So my son is left holding the $2000.00 debt, and his credit is ruined for seven years.  He won't be able to rent from any kind of apartment or house landlord for quite some time. Worse, there is a law-- and I think it's all wrong-- that people are being denied a job, when a credit check is done and it comes up bad. Employers think you might steal...Don't even get me started on that one!  My son can pay the apartment manager $2000.00, and all is forgiven.  He doesn't have it, and neither do I. Besides, I have no intention of paying his former friend/roommate's share of back rent. No way!

In some ways, I see this as a good thing. I know this sounds weird, because my son is sitting in his car and he is crying.  His car-- $2,000 later-- still doesn't run. It's spewing oil and overheating. It just might be dead, and now he's really screwed. No home. No transportation.  But sometimes, it is through our pain that we can learn.  Maybe my son will understand that when you ignore the responsibilities of life, that this is what happens. Life is very real, and the law is the law.

What is there to do?

I told my husband, and I know he's not happy about having my son come home. I understand that, given all that he put us through.

But what should I do?  He's sober, because of methadone.  Living here, without a car, will be a major problem for my son.  We live in the suburbs-- no city buses, no taxis and definitely not walking distance. Bicycle would be like the Tour de France, where we live.

I need to pray and think....

I feel so bad for my son. But, if we backtrack, he had to leave because of drugs.  He moved in with someone he used with....who made B's life a living hell. Ultimately, that drug addict/alcoholic left my son holding the bag.  There ya go.

I'm on hold-- I have to think.  I need to figure out what defines helping and enabling. I do feel bad for him, because he really is trying.

Bottom sucks.  Been there, years ago-- different circumstances, but I do know that feeling of despair.  My protectiveness is coming out... so I need to go, and think and pray.  Letting my son move back in will start a whole new chapter-- and it will definitely compromise my tranquil marriage to his stepdad. I need wisdom... God's wisdom.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter and more relfections on my son's journey

Easter is the most important Christian holiday, second only to Christmas.  It is a time to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is a day to remember that Christ suffered and died for the sins of the world.  It is a very humbling day for me.

I made an Easter breakfast for my husband.  B has his car fixed, so he joined us.  Later on, I'll bake a glazed ham, and a couple of simple side dishes.  By choice, I wanted this Easter to be a quiet one.  I've been over committed with projects, a busy and stressful week of work and my son's constant up and downs in his life. I am on vacation all of next week, hoping to use this time to relax, face some projects I've been procrastinating about... and to enjoy some quiet time with my husband.

B will join us for dinner, again.  I still marvel at how much better my son looks.   I didn't fully realize just how much opiates change my son, until he began to get better-- with the help of methadone.  Physically, he looks much better.  He smiles a lot more.  He has more energy.  He doesn't talk so fast, that you cannot understand him.

I know he's not completely out of the woods, yet.  Two years ago, at this time, my son was writhing in pain from detox. My husband and I had attended our first four-hour long class in addiction. My son's rehab did an excellent job with that.  We watched movies to better understand how the human brain is affected by drugs and alcohol.  Parents, children, and loved ones, crowed into a meeting room to learn and to share our feelings with one another.  I remember looking at patients who I would have never guessed had an alcohol and/or drug problem.  Some patients were visibly shaking...others were nodding off.  I watched loved ones interact with one another, and I felt so sad for many of them.

My son thrived in the rehab, where he stayed for 30 days.  He quickly charmed the leaders, and made many friends.  He was very sick for about 10 days.  He almost walked out, because the detox put him into a panic. But, he made it-- and he stayed clean and sober for six months.

I have to say that my son was blessed in every way-- from him getting the last bed that was his insurance agreeing to keep him there for 30 days. Typically, his insurance would only authorize 7-10 days, but because of his diabetes they were able to keep him in longer.

I feel bad for families who cannot afford rehab.  The cost was $36,000.  Our share to pay was $3,600.00.  I give God all the glory and gratitude for making it all happen.

Though my son relapsed six months later, he eventually returned to the same rehab.  He met two drug dealers, used while in it and sold drugs as soon as he got out.  This goes to show that even the best rehab center isn't a guarantee that it will "cure" them.  The bottom line, I have finally accepted, is that is my son's choice to fight for sobriety or to live a cycle of relapses that can eventually lead to jail and/or death.  Pun intended, it's a very sobering reality.  I do believe that the 12-step program is the best support any addict can choose to follow.

For my son, he still doesn't see the value in it.  For now, the methadone keeps him from wanting to use.  I have finally surrendered to my not wanting him to use methadone as a crutch. I have to say, that it has been the only treatment that has kept my son clean for longer than five day stretches. 

As for me, I continue to find support in my faith and the power of prayer.  My son surprised me, by showing up for Easter service last night!  It was such a powerful moment while we were singing "Amazing Grace" that nobody came forward to accept Jesus in their life... the pastor asked to sing one more verse, saying that a war is waged inside us when a person wants to become a Christian.  Finally, people began to come forward.  I could hardly sing, because I was choked up with emotional tears.

I thank God, that I heard that calling twelve years ago.  I am thankful that I finally wanted to receive the salvation of Christ, to be cleansed anew and to begin to take my first steps alongside Christ Jesus.

Blessed Easter