Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Mom's Sad Heart - Yeah, that's me

Sometimes, when life seems like sunshine and rainbows, that dark storm comes out of nowhere.  I'm having a hard day.  Of course, it's my son.   No, B isn't using heroin.  But, he's sick. Very sick. He has that methadone poison that is still in his body.  He is going through ups and downs.  It's been 22 days since he left the methadone clinic.  B was using 80 mgs. of liquid methadone a day.  He tried to taper off many times, but would get really, really sick.  So, the clinic would yo-yo his dose.  For two years, he used methadone-- and I so wished he wouldn't have to go that route.  When B left the clinic, he was down to 50mg.  That's not the ideal way to do it but the $450.00 a month was no longer affordable for me, his father nor him.  They wanted $10.00 a day to do a taper... forgive me, but they're just legal pushers, in my opinion.

For one week, his doctor put him on dilaudid, because he could not start on suboxone right away. Why? Because the doctor said he'd go into full-blown withdrawals if he had methadone in his system.

Nice, huh?

B took two weeks of work to try and detox.  Only our insurance screwed us around, big time. They wouldn't pay for the suboxone ($300.00). It took a lot of phone calls (which my son did himself) and waiting for the appeals process, but that took 11 days to finally go through.  In the meantime, we paid $10.00 per daily dose, waiting for the red tape to be cleared.   It was a rough ride, which B supplemented with marijuana (which is legal in California, with a "license").

My son was in good spirits, feeling happy to be free of the methadone clinic.  I was feeling thankful (still am) that he was getting that poison out of his body.  Ironically, his insurance has approved him for the vivitrol shot.  B found where the co-pay (up to $500.00) will be covered.  Prices, I hear, are  about $800-$1000.00 per shot, per month.   B won't get the shot, just yet.  Right now, he's using subutex which he says helps a little bit.  But, he still has traces of methadone in his body (I've been reading how it builds up in bones), and so withdrawals simply aren't out of the question.

So, why am I so sad?  I'm that way, because my baby boy is sick.  I want to cry.  This is my precious boy, who was born with a good and healthy body.  It breaks my heart to know that his body is ravaged from five years of drug use.   Our relationship has been repaired.  But his body hasn't.

I try not to "fear" what I cannot control, predict nor fix.

But, today, I'm feeling deeply concerned for my son.  I am concerned that he is relying on weed to help him get through this phase.  I hate it.  Sure, I smoked weed in high school, so I would be a hypocrite to say that he can't.  In some ways, I get that marijuana has it's health benefits for certain medical conditions.  As I've said before, if my son smoked only weed-- it would be far better than going backwards with heroin.  Heroin is a disgusting drug. So is methamphetamine.  So is crack.  Let's face it.  Drug addiction and alcohol addiction devastates everything it touches-- isn't that why you're reading my blog?

I've done a brave job of keeping it real with my son's addiction, and struggle to stay sober.  But, today, I'm feeling like I'm teetering on fear.   I'm feeding off my own son's fear--

I think my son fears withdrawals more than anything.   From my own perspective, I feel as though he goes into a panic when the signs of withdrawals hit-- and he has to race out and buy weed.

But, here's the problem.  My. Son. Cannot. Afford. To. Buy. Drugs. Legal. Or. Illegal.

Here's my struggle.  I. Don't. Want. To. Buy. My. Son. Drugs. To. Keep. Him. From. Fear. Of. Withdrawal.

This is where my heart is so torn.  How easy would it be for me to buy his weed?  I'm not rich, but I could sacrifice my own needs to help my son feel better.

But, what good would that do?   My son is selling off his video games, to buy weed.  How do I know he's not using heroin?  I know. I just know.  I truly believe that my son doesn't want to use heroin. Ever. Again.

But, he's an addict.   He is struggling to get off the methadone that helped him to get off heroin that helped him to get off oxycontin, that started with cocaine, that goes back to smoking weed in Middle School that goes back to....

I know that it wouldn't be right for me to buy his weed. So, I won't.  But a mother's instinct is to protect her child.

My son is stuck in a viscous cycle.   I don't want to even entertain the thought of him relapsing.  I only wish he would work harder at finding a sponsor-- someone he can talk to.  B's argument is that meetings won't help with the physical withdrawals he's going through.  He says he doesn't want to use. But, he's sick and cannot function at his job in that condition.

I talked to my husband about how I'm feeling. He did exactly what I had hoped he would do.  He listened.  B isn't his own flesh and blood, so he can be pragmatic with his advice.  I'm B's mom.  He's my one and only child.  He is not a thief. He is never rude to me. In fact, he's downright respectful and helpful.

This is so hard, because it's easy for me to enable.

Having a child who is a drug addict is something I don't wish on anyone.  How I pray that my son will be set free of the bonds of addiction.  I pray he will grow to me a man who is clean and sober, and who will use his charisma and beautiful personality to help others.

But, right now, my son needs help.  I need to hang on, and be strong in my faith.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Long Road to Recovery & Methadone Recovery & Rehab Centers (Give me a Break)

 I've been writing a post for this blog, in my head, for many weeks. I apologize, in advance, for the length of this one.  I have a lot stored up, that I want to share. Unfortunately, my life has become a very busy routine.  I have a 5:00am wakeup and a 6:15am commute to work.  By the time I get home, cook dinner and try to unwind-- well, I'm lucky enough to read emails.  The good news is that I got my job back.  I've been very MIA, here, so to refresh anyone's memory (or introduce my job life to a new reader), I work at a high school.   I was transferred to another school, in the interim.  I liked working at the adult school, but my heart is with high school kids.  There is something about the daily drama, in the life of high school kids, that makes my job challenging, interesting and entertaining.  (I work as an Administrative Assistant to high school counselors.)

In many ways, my son's drug addiction has given me a heightened sense of awareness towards the kids I see at work on a daily basis.  I deal with parents whose kids are failing classes, or are facing disciplinary action for cutting classes.  My heart goes out to the parents, because I've been there. I know that feeling of helplessness-- of thinking my kid is just being a difficult teenager.  Little did I know that my son was using hard core drugs.  But, I digress.  My son....

On November 1st (also, his 23rd birthday), my son stopped going to the methadone clinic.  Amen.  Before I write any further, I've received a few private emails from methadone users who are not happy with me.  Somehow, they feel I am condemning methadone therapy.  For the record, I am not.  Methadone is something that should be used on a case-by-case basis.  I do believe that, for many addicts, that methadone is the only course of action they can take.  On occasion, I've driven my son to the methadone clinic and have sat, parked, outside.  There are no words to express the sorrow I felt, as I surreptitiously watched methadone patients walking in and out of that clinic door.  What stood out to me, is how old and haggard many of the patients looked like.   Some of the women looked, to me, to be in their 50's.  I was off by as much as 15 years.  Their skin and expressions looked like their body had been ravaged by addiction.  Rather than being repelled by it, I was deeply sad to see it.  Then, I'd see a young woman walk out, who looked like she could work as a bank teller.  Drug addiction has no economic, racial nor gender bias.

On the other hand, as with my son, I feel as though methadone simply kept my son from buying heroin off the street.  Methadone simply bought time, to keep my son from going through withdrawals.  Methadone made it possible for my son to look "normal" again.  It returned that sparkle in his eyes, and he could eat again. Most importantly, it helped him to function at his job-- which he loves, and has kept for 1 1/2 years.  When my son was using, he got fired from three jobs.  So, yes, methadone had it's benefits. However, my son could not accurately claim that he is sober.

However, the downsides of methadone are serious. Methadone, in my opinion, is poison to the body.  It builds up, in the bones.  For one, there are only two methadone clinics within a 40 mile radius of where we live.  Our home is 3 miles from the closest one.  My son could not move anywhere closer to his job (25 miles away), lest he have a 30 minute commute for his daily methadone dose.  Should he oversleep, which he did many times, he'd miss his dose. Then, he'd panic and he'd start to feel very sick by the end of the day.  He had liquid handcuffs to his methadone clinic. What kind of life is that?   The cost of methadone is expensive. Unless you qualify for Medi-Cal (state funded for low-income families) insurance, it's $450.00 a month.  Private insurance doesn't pay for methadone. That's a lot of money-- my son could rent a room in a nice home for that.

B's father has been funding his methadone for the last year , because my husband and I could not and would no longer underwrite that expense-- which we did for the first year.  B's father has experienced a financial crisis, and the funding came to an end.  My son knew that would happen, in early October.  B had a panicked look on his face, but he also said that he wanted to be set free of methadone. Halleluia.

It is now Day #11 that my son has not taken methadone.  I'm proud of my son, for taking my advice, and telling his boss the truth.   I knew that his boss would be receptive, because I know her own son-- who has his own history of addiction.  Sure enough, his boss told him to take a week off work to detox.  But, wait!  Why isn't my son in rehab?


I had to laugh, when Madyson left a comment "go suck an egg".  Dear Rehab Centers.  You do offer a valuable service.  However, do you think that most of us can afford you?  Seriously?  My son's first rehab experience cost $72,000 for 45 days.  Yes, we had insurance, but it was a big battle to get the insurance to okay more than 10 days of rehab.  We could not afford the Sober Living Environment for more than two months afterwards. Insurance doesn't pay for that.  So, if you want to self-promote on my blog, please don't. I'll throw eggs at you, myself.  We cannot afford rehab. Period. However, if you want to offer a complimentary rehab and would like for me to blog about it, please contact me.

My son is doing his own detox, at home, under the supervision of a doctor who specializes in addiction.   In a perfect world, I wish he could have gone into rehab.  However, my son did not want to lose his job and so he opted for taking medication from the doctor. I forget the name of the drug, but it's an opiate of some sort.  The doctor says it will help my son get through the methadone withdrawals.  Once the methadone is out of his body, he will be put on subutex.

B has been going through withdrawals, for certain.  He gets the chills, and has been vomiting.  He buys medical marijuana (legal in California).  Yes, weed is a gateway drug.  However, I think he's walked through that gate long ago.  I have mixed feelings about it, but my son is now 23 years old.  He buys "cookies" and he eats them to help him get through withdrawals.  He tells me that each "cookie" is stretched out over 2-3 days. He doesn't want to smoke weed, because he doesn't like the high.  He says that marijuana helps with the nausea and helps him to sleep.  He's been sleeping a lot, at home, and when he's not sleeping then he is playing online video games.  I'd rather he do that, than go out to buy heroin.

By the way, B's heroin dealer finally got arrested and is in jail. Amen. Sadly, her young children are now in foster care and her husband will be deported to Mexico, once he serves his sentence. 

Last night, I asked my son why he thinks he's going to "make it" this time.  He answer was, that he was more than ready to get off methadone.  He says that being set free from having to get a daily dose is a huge load lifted off his shoulders. Most importantly, he says that his new friends don't use.  All those dark friends of his are out of his life. Yes!  It's true.

For the last year, my son has been a model roommate.  He is courteous and respectful.  He goes to work early, and never misses a day. He takes on double shifts, when he can.  He pays us rent, keeps his car insurance as paid and he is a joy to be around.

I'm keeping it real.  Getting off methadone is a huge step, but it's not the end of the road to recovery.  Once he's off the methadone, he will need to find ways to resist the cravings that are going to come.  I've read plenty of articles, on the web, that says kicking methadone is harder than kicking heroin. My son knows that, too.

But, for today, my thoughts are with my son. He is at the doctor, right now, finding out what the next step is.  I am paying his medical bills for this doctor.  It is my way of supporting him. Thanks to President Obama, my son has insurance again, but his deductible is quite high.

Above all, through all I've gone through with my son, our relationship has been healed and restored.  I know that my son both loves me and appreciates how I have never given up on him.  His relationship with his stepfather is good. He has grown to like "C", and for that I am thankful.  My husband has been a pillar of support to me.  Our marriage has survived this, and I am so thankful for that.  "C"  expresses, to me, what he's thinking and I have learned to listen without being defensive towards my son.

For me, I have learned how co dependence and addiction go hand-in-hand.  I'm much better at learning when to say "no".  My son has stopped trying to manipulate me.  He accepts "no".  He asks how he can earn financial help with things like gas money for work.  He has apologized for what he's put us through, and I have forgiven him.

I think my son has a good chance of moving forward in his life and towards true sobriety.  He knows he could slip.  I do believe that my son wants sobriety, more than anything else.

I am a God-loving, prayerful mom.  I give thanks to my Lord and Savior, each and every day for His grace and mercy on my son.  Miracles happen on a regular basis, that have helped my son to be where he is today.

I know I am luckier than some other family stories.  There are sad stories out there. I read them, when I visit other blogs.  I pray for them.

Never lose hope. Never.  The power of faith and love is getting me through this.