A Personal Note – From the Mother of an Addict to Other Parents of Addicts
I don’t usually write personal notes in my Elite Rehab Placement blog posts. I try to keep things compassionate, concerned, and positive. I try to share information, but most of the time, I don’t talk about my experience with addiction. Today, though, I thought that it was time I opened up a bit about addiction, and what it’s like to have an addicted child so that the many other parents of addicts who might happen onto this site can understand that they are not alone.
Yesterday, my oldest daughter called me. She’s been struggling with addiction for a long while, and although I’m not completely sure, I would estimate that she’s been addicted to heroin for about three years. Lately, she swears she has been trying, and maybe she hasn’t been using H, but she and her husband have been high on something.
As a parent, you know. You just know how your kid looks when they get high. You know how they talk and how they act.
Anyway, she called me, sounding completely clean, and said, “Well, I’ve officially lost my first good friend to heroin.”
Now, I’m not a stranger to her ups and downs with other users. I know how she will say that another person she’s getting high with is her very best friend, but two days later would rather that “friend,” fall off the face of the planet. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
But, somehow, this time, it was different. There were no tears in her voice, she didn’t sound weak or sad, but she didn’t sound like she had been using, either. I heard anger. As she told me the story of this friend, who had actually been a friend of my daughter and her husband, a profound sadness fell over my heart.
I thought of his parents. His mother. This woman, who most likely like me, tried until the very end to encourage her beautiful boy to get the help he so desperately needed to get clean. His mother who carried her son in her arms as an infant loved him, rocked him and inhaled his sweet baby smell. She probably kissed little boo-boos and did the best she knew how to raise him well. When it was time to let him live his life, it was probably so hard, but she did it because she had to, and now, she is probably filled with regret at that decision. Her body probably aches to hold that little boy again – to go back in time. I felt the pain in my heart as if it were my own to bear.
I thought of his son, who has a mother that struggles with an addiction, too. I thought of a boy who would forever have to carry the burden of knowing that his dad died of a heroin overdose. A little boy who would grow up without his dad’s loving embrace.
I thought of those who loved this young man, despite his addiction, and the hole he would leave behind, even though to many, he was “just a junkie.” My heart broke a little more with each thought because someday, it could be me on that end of the spectrum. It could be me mourning the life of a child who I so desperately loved, but that others only knew as a “loser.”
I also thought of my daughter and her husband. Despite their friendship, it’s likely that their presence at his funeral will be frowned upon and talked about. They spent time with this young man, though. They laughed with him and embraced a true friendship with him. Even if they did get high together, they were still friends.
Through all this, I was hearing my daughter say that “something needs to be done,” to stop this. It was as if all the relapses and time spent high had fallen away from her memory, and all she could see was the anger of someone who lost a person that was dear to her.
We talked for a bit, about what can be done, about relapsing in general, and how worried I am that she will be the one who loses her life next. I worry for her daughter, for her sisters. I worry that another beautiful life will be cut short again. And I told her.
We have that kind of relationship now because my husband and I have decided that no matter what, she will always be a part of our lives. I would rather have time with her as an addict, than no time with her at all. It’s been a decision that has both pained me and given me joy. But it’s one that I will never look back from.
The thing is if it were to happen to my daughter – and it very well could – who would go to her funeral? Who would know her as the person that I know? Who would stand with me to celebrate the life of a really beautiful soul and see past the addiction that has made her what she is? Who remembers that the people who die of overdoses are still people? We honor the famous ones, and talk about how great they were in life, but what about the homeless ones? What about the ones that just want to stop being addicted? Who remembers them?
I hang on because I know that someday, she will come to me and tell me that she needs help. When she does, I know that seeking addiction therapy once a week isn’t good enough. I know that intensive outpatient rehab isn’t going to cut it, either.
Frankly, I’m pretty sure that in the case of heroin addictions, rehab, and a lengthy stay at that, is the only thing that
really helps people to turn the corner. They will always be addicted, I think, but to learn how to fight those cravings and find the joy in life takes time. That time is best spent away from potential calls from dealers and friends who use.
I know that there are millions of parents who are standing where I am. They wear their grown child’s addiction like a pair of dirty socks. You try to cover it up, but sometimes, it shows. So, you decide that honesty is the best way to deal with the situation, but really, that doesn’t help either.
Eventually, you just decide to do what you feel is best and for many of us, that means staying the course. Loving our children in spite of the addiction they struggle with. Doing what we can to minimize the risk to our other children, spouses, and finances, but still doing all we can to make sure that our addicted child feels loved and a sense of belonging.
It’s exhausting. We take comfort where we can, but those times are few and far between. So, we search online. We search out the stories of others so we can see that we are not alone. Nobody really knows how to handle an addiction. Not even the one who carries it with them every single day.
I’ve been writing for Elite Rehab Placement since their beginning. I know that when my child comes to me and tells me that she needs help, they will be the first call I make. Because, very simply, I trust them. I know them. There is no judgment, just concern. Just understanding.
I want every parent out there that has a child struggling with an addiction to know that the people who work for Elite really care. We have all been touched by an addiction in some way. Some of us are recovering, some of us have parents who struggle with it, some of us are therapists and counselors, and some of us – like me – have children who are addicted – like you.
I’m urging you to please not give up on your child that struggles with an addiction. Get the help you need to cope, and then hang on. Your love and acceptance go so much farther than you might imagine. Educate yourself, reach out, and when it’s time for help, give us a call.
Don’t be scared of how much rehab will cost, we’ll help you with things like insurance and financing. Don’t be afraid of hearing that you didn’t do enough or weren’t good enough as a parent. Don’t worry about being treated like your child doesn’t deserve rehab because he doesn’t have a roof over his head right now. He does. He always will. We will help you to get him the help that he needs, so you can have him in your life for many more years to come.
I want you to know that you are not alone. There are many, many people like us. People who cry themselves to sleep and tremble with worry over whether their child will make it through the night. People who want to love the stranger that their child has become, but don’t know how to see past the ugly addiction that he carries. You’re not alone. Stay strong, be well, and keep loving, because someday, it will be worth it.