My son is addicted to something as monstrous as heroin: a dangerous and sick girl who controls him and has stolen his sense of self. Alcohol and substance abuse are secondary. He is in a 28-day detox program until Tuesday, where his drug of choice - the girlfriend - remained available by phone. It's been clear to me, since visiting him last Saturday, that he never gave her up. My husband and I were there again on Thursday for a family session.
He wants to come home. We told him that neither he nor we are ready. The lifestyle that had crippled him (and us) will only resume. We will support his continued treatment. He has options. Of course, one is his return to her. Should he do that, we said, he is on his own. His counselor and the family therapist were there. They're advocating a treatment facility for codependency. He also has the option of remaining where he is. This would be financially draining, unless he went into their transitional program, where he would work on the grounds.
We spoke with him tonight. He's almost made up his mind. No more treatment, he said. Just her, alcohol and drugs. "But where am I going to go if nobody picks me up?" My reply: "You want me to pick you up and drive you to Hell? No. You'll find your own way."
Then at 6:00 I crawled into bed and cried myself to sleep. It was all I could do. Sleep is like temporary death except for the nightmares. I woke about an hour ago.
He told us he might leave tomorrow, if he can get a ride. Saturday and Sunday are visiting days. In any event, he doesn't plan to call us. We won't know where he is. His cell phone is here. I'll have no way to contact him. "I can't do this," I told my husband. "What if he dies out there?" "You'll be killing him if you let him come home," he answered. It's been two years.
Some of you regret that you enabled your children until they left you. Others say that your children attribute their wellbeing to you for keeping them home. This is a choice no mother should ever have to make. The professionals tell me I have to let him go. How will I live not knowing if he, too, is breathing? My own son told me tonight: "Move on. Listen to what they said on Thursday. Live your life." How, I wanted to ask. How?
We don't celebrate Easter. Our spring holiday is Passover. His absence from our Seder last Monday was the first since he was born 19 years ago. At least I knew he was safe. My birthday was Wednesday, and I missed him then, too.
I hope you all have a good holiday. I don't expect to hear from you until next week.
Molly, I hurt for you, I've felt the same. A few years ago we gave our son a choice. We told him that if he chose to continue his lifestyle, he could not come home. He was gone for 8 months other than 2 hours on Christmas Eve. We didn't know where he was and didn't hear from him except for an email once in May asking for money for rent. We said the only thing we would do was help him turn himself in because by this time he was in trouble. On Father's Day he called and asked us to come get him 15 hours away. We did and he turned himself in and paid the consequences. You can still be supportive and loving without helping him continue in the drugs. In my mind, you aren't enabling unless you are closing your eyes and mind to the truth. Just do the best you can every day and give him to God so you can rest. I'm praying for you, please take care. Julie
Good Morning Molly, Good Morning JLP2, Good Morning All, Molly this is so sad and so tough. You must be full of anxiety. My husband and I told my oldest Stella that we would help her get on her feet if she would go to VA rehab. Since we will no longer give out money, food, housing she has made a choice not to call me. Haven't heard from her in 9 months. I get small reports from the youngest Janice. (not using true names). I was truly the co-depentent Queen. The drugs make them into other people. I've asked before....what makes this young girl so toxic, so unacceptable to you?? Would your son maybe stay off drugs if you accepted his girlfriend? Take care of yourself, Deb
Molly, I look at addiction as a process. All that happens, has to happen. Whatever that may be. My daughter went from one abusive relationship to another. The one that comes to mind was someone she met at NA. They both relapsed together. He on oxy's, she on heroin. The verbal, physical and mental abuse continued for over a year. There were nights the phone would ring and I would have to pick her up listening to stories of abuse no mother should have to hear. And then they would make-up only allowing for the vicious cycle to start over. She now states that she felt deserving of this abuse. Her self esteem warranted nothing better. They both were attempting to recover, yet both were causing the relapse due to their mental state when together.
Finally one day, she had had enough. She got out of the car at a light and phoned a friend for help. She never went back and did not answer his persistent phone calls. Unfortunately, today he is no longer with us. He was murdered in his front yard...my daughter could have been a part of this, she could have been there. No one has been arrested and they state it was not drug related. Who knows. She did not attend the funeral, I did. The loss was so great. Even as bad as he was with my daughter, he was a good man. An addict is a sick person and cannot think logically while using. This is a perfect example of the sickness. I believe your son has to love himself first enough to realize that this girl is poison to him. Nothing you can say will change that. He has to realize this himself, as did my daughter. Today she is with someone who is my angel. He understands addiction, though not an addict. His values and respect of women are phenomenal and the relationship has allowed my daughter to one again respect and forgive herself. Knowing everything regarding my daughter's past made no difference. Yes, he was there during times of relapse and he too played the Heroin Hunt game. Addiction is a PROCESS and until the addict has gone full circle, their choices are theirs. All we can do is stand by and hope.
The anguish now overshadows everything. I couldn't go back to sleep last night until after 5:00 AM, and realized during those hours that I can't simply leave him at rehab on Tuesday with $20 or less, and no ride to wherever he decides to go. It's in the mountains and not close to anything. This morning I told my husband that I can't follow the therapist and counselor's advice. If my son wants to come home and, as he said last week, go to a day treatment program, daily meetings, and his therapist, I want to try. I know it will likely fail - and quickly. But I'm not willing to risk losing him by letting go, not yet. We called him at about noon to tell him. He spoke with us briefly, said he was eating, busy afternoon planned, would call us later. We still haven't heard from him. I'm not calling tonight. Will see what, if anything, we hear tomorrow.
To answer somebody's question, the counselor is a recovered addict, was in an abusive relationship for 17 years, now has a young child; the family therapist is a father of young adults. I don't know much about him. I agree that a parent of an addict is in a different situation from a spouse. Inherent in our role is a sense of responsibility for our children. We take care of them for so many years. Letting go, even of our healthy sons and daughters, is a challenge. It's so much harder to do with our children who are sick.
To answer another question: I also have a 12-year-old daughter. She has suffered immensely, but is a very resilient person. I've written here about the guilt I feel regarding the relatively limited attention she's had from me these last 2-3 years.
Deb, I will have to answer the question about his girlfriend another time. We accepted her, initially, and she even lived with us for a few months. Then we saw how sick and dangerous she is. Also, he went upstate and lived with her for 6 weeks in the fall. He had to develop an escape plan to leave.
Thank you all so much. Life is torturous, but it was even harder before I found this sisterhood.
Molly, What CindyKay said is incredibly insightful. Recovery is a process and until it goes full-circle, nothing anyone says or does can make a difference. Your son is still trying to do this his own way. Under the advice of people who have dealt with hundreds or thousands of addicts, he still knows better than they. Unfortunately, it is possible he has to fail in his attempt to drive his own bus before he can really surrender his own will and follow any kind of a program for sobriety. Whatever will happen has to happen. It is that part of loving an addict that was hardest for me. "You can't push the river you have to let it flow on its own". Molly, I am certain you will make a wise decision. Part of this process is his recovery, part f it is your sanity. Yoiu have to do what is best for yourself, and sometimes that is part of your process too.
This is all very hard for me to read at times because my son was the toxic boyfriend for a couple of people. I didn't realize to what degree until he got sober and the talking started. Cross addictions are more common that not. The things he talked about were really hard for me to hear, I know the parents of some of these girls and I was ashamed for him. Addressing this was a particulary self-abusive period in his recovery because of his guilt and shame. Horrible cutting episodes, another self tattoo ( covers his entire forearm, the worst periods of post-using depression were all when he was learnng to forgive himself and love himself again because of whathe had done to others. As a using addict he was the most manipulative person I can ever imagine dealing with, none of his friends, relatives, girlfriends, bosses or even strangers were exempt. His sponsor (manages a sober living facility) Addressed that from teh start ,and part of an onbgoing relationship with this sponsor was a "no girlfriend" policy for over a year. He is now in an incredibly respectful relationship with a woman he cherishes and who treats him well also. I feel deeply for you in all of this. I think about how painful for me it was to see him go through this and be in so much pain. All I can say is that things can get better, just not always in our timeframe. Hang in there Molly, I know we are all thinking of you daily... Laura
I feel for you so much - i do not know how to help you all i can say is i was asked to leave an alanon meeting because i said i would be okay if my son is okay. When you talk to a therapist they always say take care of yourself or no matter what happens you have to be okay. Were any of these people mothers of an addict? I know my therapist is not a mother and the alanon meetings we were going to the majority had husbands that were alchoholics - i truly believe a parent of and addict/alchoholic is different. We worry that we gave them the "gene" we worry it was our parenting skills. I am so sorry you have to go through this - i do not recall if you have other children living with you - if you do you can always say to yourself you are protecting them. When i find myself in a situation when i am not sure what to do i defer to the specialists for guidance. What are the therapists saying at the recovery centre? I would think if your son was honest with them they would of told him if she uses not to see her. He maybe thinking he can help her? I will be thinking of you and if my memory comes up with something i will post again. If the situation arises i will discuss this with my son he may have been at a group meeting when something similar came up.
Molly, My heart aches for you and the choices that addiction puts us in which don't really feel like choices at all if you are a mom or dad of an addict. Also, Winnie, I can't believe you were asked to leave alanon--a place where it is supposed to be safe to say and feel whatever you are feeling. That was wrong. The meetings I have gone to were parent meetings and they really helped me but asking you to leave goes against the entire principles of the program. I do believe that being a parent of an addict is very different than any other relationship with an addict is --it has its own unique brand of pain and agony.
Molly, noone can tell you what is right or wrong in this situation and just remember that whatever you decide, the outcome does not hinge on you. My daughter and I were having dinner with a friend whose daughter was a heroin addict and the friend wanted to talk to us to get our take on the situation. My daughter flat out told her that nothing I said or did really made the difference.
The difficult part as I see it is that there are two living in one body--my daughter, loving, kind, etc.. and the disease. I try not to do anything to support the disease, but sometimes the lines are blurred. Just do your best and know that we are all in this with you. Thinking of you.
So sorry to hear of your pain. Maybe if your son has nowhere else to go he will stay in the transitional program. His therapist should press for this instead of you, your son will reject much of what you want since you are the parent and he is the rebellious child. Much as we wish we could direct the course of events, until they decide to change we are powerless. Perhaps he will choose recovery if there are no other options, but at least it will be his choice and thus more likely to have a good outcome.
Molly - I can barely type for the tears in my eyes. We understand your grief here. The only thing we cannot do is take it away. I just pray that this situation will turn around and somehow your son will decide to choose the family who loves him so much. You are in my thoughts...
Lilypad, I didn't see your reply before writing to the group a little earlier this evening. I'm having ongoing trouble with the site.
Your words, like so many others, flew from your fingers into my heart. In fact, this subject was addressed in our family therapy session at rehab on Thursday. The two men facilitating the meeting talked about how loved my son is. They tried to show him that he was choosing something else and, by so doing, giving us up. I was sobbing, and even had to leave the room briefly. The therapist said, "Look at your mother. Look how much this is hurting her." "I know," he answered, "I don't want to hurt her. I don't want to hurt anyone." They repeatedly presented it to him as a choice he is actively making. "He's seen me like this before," I said, "hundreds of times before now." In fact, he's used it against me when we've made him leave. "You'll be calling me to come home in an hour, crying.........."
My love, his weapon.
My tears, your tears.
Thank you for your kindness and support. It means a great deal to me.
this is such a shame. 17 posts show, only 5 display. Molly, I pray all is good with you. I will be away from the site for a couple of days. I am leaving for the birth of the new grandbaby. They will attempt to rotate the little breech baby at noon today. If not successful, then a c-section. If there continues to be a problem with the forum, I will be sending Nic Sheff an email. You are in such a horrendous situation right now and when you need all the feedback, there is nothing. You have been in my thoughts and prayers.
Cindy, I've been thinking about this new grandchild for a few days now. I knew the due date was approaching, and am thrilled for you and yours! Yes, I can come out of my own despair and exalt in this new life.
I'm leaving shortly to get my beautiful boy and bring him home from rehab. He has a plan, and we can only hope he follows through on it. The counselor now blames me and my husband, but mostly me, I'm sure, for undermining his recommendations. So be it. Life is not black and white.
As for the site, it's truly awful. There's no e-mail yet from the tech department. Appreciate you taking over, if you have the time. It's David Sheff, though, rather than Nic, who should be contacted. His e-mail address, as you probably already know, is on the home page.
Please start a new and happy thread to tell us about your grandbaby! And let's hope everyone can read that post!
Molly, I have been thinking about some of your words posted earlier and the decisions you have made..against the "words of the wise." Unless that person has walked in your shoes, which it is your son, not theirs, no one knows. What they were doing was not working. But it some ways, it has. I will briefly share. We spent years in counseling, then came the drugs.Everyone wanted to take the credit for "fixing" the problem. Even sponsors from AA. She has had a few different ones. Recovery began when she showed an interest. Period. A small interest. When did she hit rock bottom? Overdose 1,2 or 3? Death of friend 1.2 or 3? Rehab 1 or 2? Detox? Even after a big attempt at recovery, she relapsed several times, but with less intensity. It took her 7 months after detox to "get it." Even while on suboxone she relapsed. It took her 2 years after the first inkling of interest to be in what I call "full blown recovery." What I am saying is simply take the small steps, expect the tumbles, and start the steps once again. The interest is there. That is WONDERFUL. It's when there is none that there is no where to go. Don't be disappointed with the relapses, expect them. Our journey will be 8 years this July. Today I am so proud of her. She continues to amaze me. Last night she met with someone at the "local meeting" and will present her photo portfolio and volunteer to work with juveniles and inmates regarding art therapy as a means of treatment and counseling.
I'm missing three replies on this computer, but they're the only ones on the other. I've read everything now several times, and am so moved by your understanding and compassion. It's nearly palpable. Everything each of you said makes perfect sense. My loving and beloved son is still in that body, but the demon is beside him and still overpowering the goodness. Recovery is a process, yes, but why after 2.5 years do we seem to be at the beginning? Laura, I'm so sorry my posts elicit pain for you, but I revel in your son's recognition of what he caused, self-forgiveness, his growth, and the positive relationship he now has. Also, I understand that nothing I say or do will effect change.
Still, I cannot walk away. You're right, Winnie. As parents we nurture and protect our children. So to leave him now, and say return when you're ready to do what these people say is necessary in order to be whole again, to act on this concept while knowing that the very worst could happen, this is impossible for me. I tried to wear that armor and it doesn't fit my soul. It feels counter intuitive.
continued: I'm not sure what will happen next. He is still there, and researching day programs in our area. He says he will be in treatment, go to meetings, see his therapist, work at the firehouse, and exercise in the gym. Tomorrow he's meeting with his counselor, whom he hasn't seen since Saturday, and then he'll call me. It's even possible that I'll pick him up in the afternoon or evening. I suggested he stay a few extra days, if that's what they need to make sure that there's a program he can begin immediately upon his return. Another variable is that the rehab population has changed. Many of the newer patients are there by court order and unmotivated. My son is uncomfortable with them. Ironically, their treatment is covered by the government. Since insurance denied our claim, we are paying. But that's another story, another thread, that's also been told here many times. We do not have unlimited resources.
What I do and say won't change him. But perhaps we can still offer opportunities that might ENABLE him to continue this journey toward recovery. Of course, he has to maintain the high level of commitment that he's now espousing, or this will fail. Maybe then I'll be able to let go. All I can do tonight is hope we don't arrive at that juncture. I don't know if what I'm doing is right. I only know it's what I can do.
I reached out and so many responded. You, too, are in my thoughts.
Molly, thinking of you and your son. There is no wrong or right or often even sense to this addiction battle. Just hang in and take care of yourself. Love is a very powerful thing and at times all that remains. Sometimes, when I am feeling especially down and negative, I picture myself in the future, on the porch with my husband holding a grandchild and we have made it through this and it's my addict daughter's child we are holding. It gives me a sense of peace and hope. The future isn't set in stone or even written yet. I haven't always been the best parent at setting limits and boundaries; but I think being a grandma might just be the job I was meant for. Cindy, thinking of your new grandbaby, so full of promise too.
TC, this is a wonderful suggestion. I don't use imagery spontaneously, not in a positive way, so I will consciously try to do it. Love IS all that remains. When I'm told to let him go but not give up, as I was last Thursday and again rather brutally on the phone by his counselor yesterday, it's counterintuitive. Now I worry about the ramifications of having told him that he cannot possibly succeed at home. That's what his counselor, the family therapist, and we all said. With such expectations, have we not established a foundation for failure? So I'm trying to impart hope, strength and optimism to him.
Honestly, I think the counselor believes I need treatment for codependency. When did love become codependency? When did enable become cripple? I am so tired of this terminology. So tired of being told to jump off a cliff.
He's home and has a plan. Is it optimal? Not at all. Did we want him to continue inpatient? Absolutely. But he wasn't willing to do it, and I could not abandon him to the streets.
I will try to come up with a peaceful image of the future. Thinking of you, too.
Molly, I am thinking about you today. Remember this is his recovery if he so chooses, and I applaud you for doing what you can live with. Just as important as his process is yours. You are entitled to love your child the way you see is best. You are entitled to change your mind at anytime, and you are entitled to be gentle with yourself about those decisions. There are no right or wrong answers here, I wish there were. It would be easier. Sometimes these struggles are what have to happen...and he will either be committed to this or not, but nothing anyone else says or does can determine that outcome. People "get it" in many different ways. There are lots of people in AA for whom that was enough. There are people whose inpatient experiences never carry that message. I don't envy you this - and not having the support of counselors can't be easy. You aren't alone, there are many of us who feel the ache of deciding how to handle this crisis with our children. Take care of yourself...Laura
So good to hear from you, Laura. If I remember correctly, didn't your son do well in a 28-day rehab program? Might I ask what type of treatment and support followed? That's where we are now.
As it turned out, we got absolutely no help with my son's discharge plan from the program. Once they knew he wasn't going into another inpatient program for codependency, as per their recommendation, the counselor denied him any assistance. We got home last night. This morning my son called an outpatient partial hospitalization program. Three calls and several hours later, someone did call him back. He has a Monday intake appointment. We were hoping he'd be admitted tomorrow, but how naive was that? They did promise to call him, though, if there's a cancellation. He's at an AA meeting now. Scheduled an appointment to see his therapist on Monday, too; that was the first opening.
continued: If this had been done while he was hospitalized, he would have come home and gone directly into further treatment. I "got it" today. The counselor told me on the phone yesterday that he would not support my son's plan. I believe - taking the whole enabling theory a step further - that he thinks, had he given my son help in securing outpatient treatment, etc., i.e., things he does not recommend, he (the counselor) would be enabling US as a dysfunctional and codependent family. My son tells me the counselor said, "You'll be living at home for the rest of your life." Excuse me, but he's 19 years old, and this was his first detox experience. His parents are not ignoring the problems. We didn't let him come home to do nothing and, if this fails, we will secure something more aggressive.
So I'm angry today. Angry at the system that doesn't recognize you have to meet a person where they are IF they're moving forward. My son recognizes he needs help and, at least on some level, now wants or is accepting it. Why can't the "professionals" facilitate this? Now we have four days with NO structure, essentially because the staff was disappointed and didn't do their job. At my request, my husband called the director of the rehab program to see if they would intervene and get him admitted sooner, but got nowhere. Same thing: "He didn't follow our recommendation."
So it's my way or the highway. Forgive me, but I once again feel miscast as the enabler and, hence, pathological mother. My son IS trying. I wish they'd helped him create this critical bridge in his recovery. By the way, it's not AFTER care, as they call it, it's CONTINUED care, isn't it?
Tired me. Will begin to focus on myself again soon. Thanks for letting me yell with my fingers.
Molly, my son was 16 at the time of his discharge. He went straight into another 28 day outpatient full-day program and lived at home. My circumstance was different because i still had legal control over what he did, where he went, etc. He was also really compliant when he got out of treatment. He had tried to stop on his own , bargained with god, and came close enough to death that he somehow was willing to do all it takes and make all the changes he needed to make. He went from a very good public HS to a small private catholic school ( we are not catholic)He went to his therapy appointments, 3 months of 3X a week aftercare, and went to AA 5 days a week. My son was so lonely, and being at AA with other addicts was something he could latch on to. The meetings he went to are on the same block as the sober house I sent you, and the first night there were 250 people standing around outside smoking, looking like drug addicts. Scared the bejeebers out of me to let him go, but it was the best thing we could have done.
Those rough looking druggies invited him into their social circle outside of AA. They played pool, went to breakfast, and had fellowship that was 'fun'. As my son has said since, if you can't have fun with sober people you can't stay sober. His fabulous sponsor was just what he needed, he still has the same sponsor. He encouraged him to get into service. Cleaning up chairs and passing out literature at the start, and sponsored a youth when he had been sober a year. Now he is on the board at 2 of his meetings, organizes a youth dance once a month, speaks at adolescent treatment centers and schools for both kids and teachers/parents, and takes meetings to another in-patient youth treatment program as well as to a detox once a month. Service for him is ..and he says always will be, the difference between relapse and sobriety. He has to get out of his own head apparently. His current living situation is at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. He is in a program called "StepUp" recognized nationally for the high sobriety rate they maintain. Mandatory sobriety, working a 12 step program, attending stepUp meetings and 2 AA meetings a week are all requirements to stay in teh program. He's decided on Psychology/Neuroscience as his path. I have every reason to be proud of him. The loving gentle boy I knew before his addiction started is back. Hang in there Molly, I did all it took to get him to meetings and appointments, and I regret not one second of the time it took. My business suffered, my friendshuips suffered, but today I have my life back...as does he.
So sorry for you experience with the rehab staff. I know the conventional advice is to let the addict hit bottom -and that can be true in some situations- but your son is still young & it sounds like he's taking some positive steps. Who knows- time may prove the counselors right - but then again, offering your son support could help him make it, whereas letting him fend for himself on the street could end up sending him a downward spiral. You followed your heart & as a mom, I understand completely. Wishing you & your son & the rest of your family all the best.
Hi Molly, I've been reading your posts and the others. I too have been there for my adult son of 30. It's been almost 8 years of agony. In and out of rehabs, jail, hospital, etc. for now by the grace of God he's in a sober living home. He called last night to say he was asked to lead an AA meeting. Can you imagine??? This is one day at a time. We know talk openly about addictions, AA and The Big Book. I'm gaining strength from my higher power, AlAnon meetings and just good old surrendering daily, with difficulty I might add. My youngest beautiful baby daughter age 19, out in the streets somewhere living in motels, doing meth and selling herself. As you can imagine my heart aches and yes spend every night thinking of her. She does call weekly, allowing us her to breathe a sigh of relief that she's alive. Which leas me to the point that even though we know she needs rehab, if she were to call to come home, we would jump and go pick her up, going against therapists advice, rehab specialists, family, etc. Our hope is that whatever time she spends away from her destructive lifestyle is good and rehab can be discussed at home. Who knows she may even walk out immediately, but there's always the hope that she won't, that's all we've got. There are no right or wrong answers. People have to walk in our shoes to understand. I will keep you in my prayers. Hang in there.