For the past few years, our family has been struggling with our son’s addiction. None of us ever thought this was something we would ever have to deal with. We’ve been down this road before with a close family member, and as my hand writes this blog, we celebrate the 7th anniversary of his death due to addiction. I remember trying to help him beat his addiction, and as I look back I laugh at myself. I truly thought I could help him and I failed. I have since learned I did everything wrong. We all tried and we all failed and every time, we tried and failed, I was surprised. We all talked about preparing ourselves for that dreaded phone call one day, and when it happened I was not prepared, and I was surprised and very, very, heartbroken.
I was one of those people who said, this is not going to happen to us again and I did everything in my power to make that statement true. My husband and I tried everything we could possibly think of to prevent addiction from striking our family. We moved to a small town that was happy, fun, and safe. We were good examples, to counter the example of their uncle. They watched him struggle over the years and were scared for him and had many questions about his addiction growing up. They went through drug training at school, and we had discussions upon discussions about drugs and addiction. We taught them right from wrong and never to lie. No matter how bad it was, they would not be in trouble if they simply told the truth. Well..as it turns out addiction does not discriminate, and there is no natural remedy for prevention. The fact is, it could happen to anyone, and I think of the famous quote, “there but for the Grace of God go I.”
This time is different, this time it hurts more, this time it is my son. I am very close to my son, we hold a special spiritual connection. I couldn’t place my finger on it at the time, but I instinctively knew as his mother that something was wrong, but I never imagined drugs. Looking back, we saw the signs, we just didn’t… identify the signs. Our son had always been truthful to us honest to the point of incriminating himself at times. So for a longer period than we should have, we believed him. Things soon turned ugly, and our family was quickly being torn apart. I felt like I was losing my mind from the drama and the chaos. Nothing made sense until the truth was exposed and denial could be no more.
I can’t tell you how many times we had to call the police to our house because we couldn’t defend ourselves from the scary person our son had become. His personality changed drastically into someone we no longer knew, and he scared me, often. I am certain, we were and still are the talk of our small town. I say this because, I, unfortunately, have seen and heard the whispers behind my back and to my face. I only wish they were praying behind my back and to my face instead because we sure did need that more, but I get it, I don’t like it, but I get it.
My husband and I knew we had to get some sort of control over this situation, so we started attending Naranon meetings, and they were seriously a life saver. It was there that we gained the strength we needed to take action and make tough decisions. We no longer felt isolated and alone with our issues, and we discovered our son’s new behavior was not unique at all. As a matter of fact, he was a classic addict just like others. This too surprised me, I am not sure why, but it did. I guess we tend to have a stereotypical view of what a drug addict looks and acts like and it isn’t accurate at all. My son’s addiction was to Xanax bars
and heroin although he swears to this day he never shot heroin but snorted it. He tells me this is what has saved him from turning pickled. I am not sure if this is true, but I say it doesn’t matter how you use it, it is the same drug running through your body, and it can kill you. We tried everything to save him. We had interventions, we had him locked in a psych ward to be evaluated, we pressured him to go to rehab, and he finally agreed. Then we sent him out of State to get away from his circumstances and pull himself together, and when he seemed to have done that and returned home, he went right back to abusing drugs worse than before. We forced him to move out if he would not stop using drugs and I am sorry to say he chose the drugs and moved out.
He has overdosed twice from the fake heroin, fentanyl. I will never forget when I heard the news and went to visit him at his apartment and saw his beat up face and the whites of his one eye filled with blood from an artery bursting due to lack of oxygen, or so I was told. He looked like death, I later learned that one of the four people he was with panicked at his overdose and beat him up to get him to breath and only when that didn’t work did he call 911. The other two chose to run away instead, leaving him for dead.
Unfortunately, with drugs come unlawful activity and it took this action to wake our son up. I have since learned Xanax and alcohol are the two drugs you need medical assistance to stop doing because you can die. Our son tried to ween himself off of Xanax and had a seizure at work slammed his head on the counter as he fell and almost died yet again. He then conceded to doing it the correct way and entered a detox/rehab.
I am happy to report that he is turning his life around and oddly I think his situation has brought us closer together. He is clean and sober, he looks and talks like his old self again and seems relatively happy. I say relatively happy because when he was on drugs, it made him feel depressed. I share our story with you because I know many of you are struggling with your young adults or someone close to you and I want you to know, you are not alone. I have seen too many young people die and too many parents suffering in silence. It’s also hard to talk about because people will judge and talk about you and your child, but you know what? You will find out who your true friends are and true friends will support you. I know it isn’t easy for us to admit that we need help, but sometimes we do. We can become just as sick as the one with addiction because we get so consumed with them and their problems that we neglect ourselves and as their behaviors change so do ours.
I know our family is one of the lucky ones to which we are incredibly grateful, and we are aware that this can change at any time. There is a current epidemic, and I am glad to see Governor Christy and our President having a discussion about it, this gives us hope for a possible solution. Our family learned many things through this trying experience, and if I had to share just a few things it would be to let go of the situations we can not control. I know it is easier said than done and it takes time, but do it, and take care of yourself. Also, focus on the present, attend meetings, pray for them, ask others to pray for them, hand it over to God and watch what He does with it. Gratitude for things that are going well during these times is the best medicine.