Sunday, February 19, 2012

Codependency Cycle

Now that my son has come clean with his relapse, I have heard the whole ugly story.  I have learned to sit and listen to my son talk, and have learned to swallow my horror, pain and hurt while doing so. To most people, I appear to be okay.  I'm not. I'm devastated.

To all you moms of drug addicts-- you understand the tendency to want to rescue our addicts.  It is so deeply ingrained in us, that everything we have learned from "Mothers of Drug Addicts School" flies out the window.

I'm trying to write blog posts are that aren't so long.  So I have to skip through most of the details. When my son confessed to me, how he slipped back into using oxycontin, the emotions that went through me were so complex-- hurt, anger, disappointment.  Then I got hit with feelings of relief, that it's out in the open.  Anger, frustration and disappointment came at me, as well.   Then, the need to rescue my son becomes so overpowering.

Now, I know that I can't fix my son's problems.  I know all about letting him suffer the consequences.

But, what do you do when you see your son's terror of withdrawals?  This is, I believe, what holds my son back from working on his own sobriety without any kind of drug-- be it methadone, subutex, suboxone or legal marijuana.  My son is so afraid of withdrawals, that he works himself up into a total state of panic.  I react, by taking on the panic myself.  My sirens go off, and I want to help.

B was terror-stricken that he had 24 more hours to go, before he could resume taking his suboxone.  Apparently, this is crucial, or he could go into full-blown withdrawal.  His decision was to hole up in his bedroom, take some Valium (and that disappoints me), sleep through it all until it was time to take his suboxone.  He was determined to sell his iPhone to get his X-Box out of hock, so he could play video games to distract him.

I reminded him that he couldn't do that, as his step-dad made it clear that if he brought home his video games before paying rent he owes (from two weeks ago) that he'd be upset.

So then my son tells me he can  buy a used (old model) Playstation for $29.00 and return it within 7 days for a full refund.

What did I do?  I went to the store, where his friend works, and found out it's true.  So I "rented" the old game console, bought a used game for $5.00 and told myself it would help my son get through detox in his room.  B's friend, who works there, said he'd refund the money paid to my credit card so I considered it a "rental".  The plan was to tell my husband when he got home, that night. 

My husband went through the roof, today, when he found the console in B's room.  C doesn't yell, but he was very upset. That makes me feel terrible.  What backfired on me, is that I told B he needs to come clean with C and tell him all that's been going on.  This morning, B was all set to tell his step-dad the truth-- and I was going to tell him about the game console, that we'd be turning tomorrow for a full refund.  Only, C saw it in B's room and it hit the fan with me. Honestly, I wasn't hiding this from my husband, as I knew he'd see the charge on the credit card.

In retrospect, why didn't I call my husband to ask him for his blessing?  Two reasons-- I didn't want to have this discussion over the phone, while he was at work.  I wanted B to tell him the truth. Secondly, I didn't want his blessing. I just wanted to do it.  I admit that.

Is this enabling?  Yes, it is. I'm guilty.  Coincidentally, someone just left a comment on this post , where I list the signs of codependency.  Here's a portion of that list. I have highlighted, in bold red, what I think I did wrong:

Enabling is defined as reacting to a person in such a way as to shield him or her from experiencing the full impact of the harmful consequences of behavior. Enabling behavior differs from helping in that it permits or allows the person to be irresponsible.

  • PROTECTION from natural consequences of behavior.
  • KEEPING SECRETS about behavior from others in order to keep peace.
  • MAKING EXCUSES for the behavior. (School, friends, legal authorities, work, other family members)
  • BAILING OUT of trouble. (Debts, fixing tickets, paying lawyers, providing jobs)
  • BLAMING OTHERS for the dependent person's behavior. (Friends, teachers, employers, family, SELF)
  • SEEING THE PROBLEM AS THE RESULT OF SOMETHING ELSE. (Shyness, adolescence, loneliness, child, broken home)
  • AVOIDING the chemically dependent person in order to keep the peace. (out-of-sight, out-of-mind)
  • ATTEMPTING TO CONTROL. (Planning activities, choosing friends, getting jobs)
  • MAKING THREATS that have no follow-through or consistency.
  • TAKING CARE of the chemically dependent person. Doing what they should be expected to do for themselves.
My husband is very upset with me, and I feel terrible about it.  At the time that I made this decision, I had rationalized it as "not costing anything" and as a way to help my son get through a crucial period to get back on track with his suboxone.  I had every intention of telling my husband, but he came home feeling worn out and like he was fighting the symptoms of becoming ill. The next day, he wasn't feeling well, and I had to leave the house for an extended period of time.  This morning, B has returned back to work and he isn't here...  so things didn't go as I had planned.

I made the wrong choice, and now I have to deal with my husband being upset with me.  This is so hard, because C can make all logical decisions. It's easy for him to see things in black and white.  As B's mom, the grey areas take over.  I don't want to enable my son, and in many ways I don't.

I blew it.  I know this will blow over, but I need to remind myself about enabling.  I'm so quick to see it with other parents, because I work at a high school. I shake my head at parents who bring their high school kids forgotten lunches and homework.  I need to get a big mirror and take a look at myself.

To me, this is the hardest part of being a parent of a drug addict.  It breaks our female/mother's hearts to see our child suffer.  The instinct to rescue is so strong.

I'm going back to make my best effort to return to Nar-Anon meetings.  I'm kicking myself enough as it is, but I need to admit I was wrong to my husband-- as soon as my defense mechanisms go away.  I just need for him to calm down.

I hate being in trouble. But then, who doesn't?

--------------------------------------UPDATE ON MY SON-------------------
B says that he made it, and took his suboxone with the recommended 36 hour waiting period.  He says he feels better, and is ready to go back to work.  B says the reason he avoided doing the interview on this blog is because he wasn't clean-- and he was too ashamed to admit it to me.  He will be ready to do so very soon, and I think it's high time (no pun intended).  I'm hoping that sharing the truth about what led to his relapse might help others. We shall see.

PS: I said I'd write shorter posts, but today's is a FAIL in that department. I type 90WPM and I just can't help myself. Sorry.


Dad and Mom said...


I have been reading but not commenting before. I'M BACK LOL

You can beat yourself up, your husband can scream and yell. B can show no appreciation. There are a million things that can go wrong but the reality is you did what made sense to you at the time and there is honor in doing what you believe.

Look at what you did, what hubby did and what B did. After all of that ask the simple question. WHAT DID I LEARN?

If Darlene and I had not learn to let the bruises heal we would ALL be black and blue everywhere.

Maybe hubby just needs to vent. Sometimes I remember that I HAD to scream and Darlene was wonderful enough to just take it then it all sunk away just like a sunset each day. The sun rose again in the morning. New day, new chance to get it right and to make more mistakes.

Stay alive and remember where there is life there is hope. How much life is there that surrounds you?

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

Thanks, Ron. You are a good voice of reason. My husband has calmed down, but I need the right opportunity to apologize for making him feel betrayed. We all makes mistakes, and I have to forgive myself. What did I learn from this? That addicts have a way of making you feel that you can save them from themselves. I should have waited to talk to my husband. I need to let my son suffer his own consequences. Easier said than done, but at least I admit it. That's the first step away from denial, right? Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

I try to understand. I really do. The world reflected in the blogs that i read, with mom and dad, and the addicts my age who live with their parents blow my mind. So little of what you write about make any sense to me. I want to be furious with little suburban punks that throw away chances i will never see. I despise them. I aged out of thefoster system after I got tricked out for drugs by my foster family. If i had a problem with it,they had a belt. I lived on the street for the first time this winter. Your children are gutless, spineless and worthless. Please give me chance, i will never, ever give you a single problem.

Anonymous said...

Is me again. No! I am dead serious, just dont make me work santa monica blvd., and dont beat me when your drunk and i will be the best kid that you could ever dream of. I will cause no trouble, be respectful, go to school, you wont even know i am there- just give me a fair shot at a normal life. Your brat kid couldnt care less.

Anonymous said...

Debby.... as a mom of a 22 year old son who has been an addict for 9 years (only the past 3 known to us, mom and dad) the love you share and the trials you bear have been such a blessing for me. You are proof positive that we don't walk alone in this wrenching journey, and I thank you for your honesty and transparency in your journey. You never realize how to you touch invisible hearts like ours, and I thank you.

God Bless you

Bristolvol said...

To Anonym: While I am sorry about your living conditions you will not understand THIS problem until you have a child who is a drug addict. These kids are not "suburban punks" but people afflicted with a deadly disease.

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

Dear Angry Anonymous:
For a moment, I considered deleting your comment. But, then I realized that there is so much hurt in your words, and so I won't take these words offensively:
"I want to be furious with little suburban punks that throw away chances i will never see. I despise them. I aged out of thefoster system after I got tricked out for drugs by my foster family. If i had a problem with it,they had a belt. I lived on the street for the first time this winter. Your children are gutless, spineless and worthless. Please give me chance, i will never, ever give you a single problem."
I a sorry for whatever has put you into this lifestyle. I understand the belt and being beaten, as that was my own childhood.
I made the choice to end the cycle of abuse when I became a mother. Yes, my son has been spoiled and in some ways because I wanted his childhood to be better than mine was. I pray you get that chance, and I don't know how old you are. We can choose to be a victim of our choices, or we can be victorious in changing our circumstances. I wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

You age out of foster care when you turn 18. Any support you get at that point if up to the whims of social workers. In the 10 years i have been involved, i have not come across one who cares. Foster parents collect county checks and that is it. Drugs and crime is how your support yourself. If all of the kids in the blogs, with mommy and daddy falling all over themselves to help, cant get clean, what about kids like us? There are a lot of us.

Nicholas said...

Once the person gets addicted to drugs they need proper care and treatment. It’s very good to know your son accepted that he is addicted. Meanwhile time he got proper treatment and now he is free from addiction.

vicki said...

I know it is a tough cycle. Your first instinct as a mother is to protect your child. You want to beleive them, but know you cant. You want to trust but know you cant. My 27 yr old son is an opiate addict and has relapsed again. He is trying to shut out the world. I have to go over and talk to him today and try to find out why. Maybe he needs to be on subone . he was on it for awhile last year and it seemed to help. But then again he might not want help right now. I will just have to wait and see. Meanwhile we will see if he pays his rent this month. He may have to live with me again. It is a vicious cycle. I feel for all.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your blog. My son has been a junkie for 8 years. I always end up sending him money to get him out of financial trouble but he openly admits he spends all of his money on heroin, etc.

I also seem to be in a rut of being the Enabler. He is coming home for two weeks but I think this time, I am going to choose to not see him. It will be a hard thing to do; however, I have to learn to say No.

His latest reasoning for me to send him money: If you send it to me, then I won't need to buy heroin off the street - I can get more methadone.

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

Dear March 16th Anonymous:
Never, EVER, give an addict money. My son will agree. There are times when it's okay to help an addict-- with food, or medical care. BUT, pay it directly to where it's supposed to go. Believe me, my son admits that he lied in order for me to give him money.
Why is your son coming home? Is he in school somewhere?
We enable for a lot of reasons. For me, I couldn't bear to see my son broke. The heart was in the right place, but with addicts they will lie to get their drugs. I'm so sorry, believe me. Please find a support group to help you understand that you are helping your son's addiction to be full-blown. You are helping him find ways to use. I do know the pain, mom. I really do. Visit blogs or find a Nar-Anon. My son's father threw away thousands of dollars he couldn't afford, to "help" my son with this and that. Now, we know, my son bought drugs with that money. God bless you on this difficult journey.

Anonymous said...

Nobody ever cares to fucking listen to a worthless, college drop-out, drug addict like me. If people really care to fix this problem, they'd rise up and change the prohibition laws in this country. Ask any addict..while being addicted to opiates certainly does hinder many aspects of a normal, functioning life, the biggest hindrance comes in the form of the absurd amounts of money necessary to support an opiate habit due to price gouging by the cartels, as occurs with any black market item..and yes, I obviously speak from experience being a, once again, newly recovering heroin addict (lost count how many times I've gotten clean and subsequently relapsed). This disease is TOO POWERFUL for a bunch of feeble 12 steps to help treat, logical principles in faith and discipline though they may be. It is NOT a spiritual malady (but if you chose to believe that, more power to ya'). This is a debilitating neurological disease. If the world was more like the dystopian one that Aldous Huxley wrote about in Brave New World, with government sanctioned Soma (a fictitious drug in the story), the world would, contrary to what the former president Nixon may have lead you to believe, be a better place. It's only logical..there's NOTHING wrong with just wanting to get high..some people should be free to be addicted all day...enough scientific progress..and this is coming from a fervent believer in the pursuit of truth and progress for all mankind. We should all just be 'comfortably numb' all day..what's so wrong about that kind of a world...? Ahem..absolutely nothing of's how life should be. I'm sure you won't approve my comment..because you're so mired in your pain rather than the solution that neither you nor my own mother are to cowardly to admit is the only option..LEGALIZATION and GOVERNMENT FUNDING.