The Heartache and Hurt of Loving an Addict

It doesn’t matter who you are, loving an addict is painful. You can be a spouse, brother, sister, girlfriend or parent, it hurts just the same to watch someone you love become nothing but an empty shell of a person.

I have known no greater heartache than that of being an addict’s mom.

My heart has been crushed a million times over. My hope is dwindling down.

As I sit here and type, tears are rolling down my face. I can usually hold it together but today has been especially bad. I have transitioned from anger to tears and back to anger a million times in the past eight hours.

When you think things can’t be any worse, the addict surprises you and proves that wrong.

If you have a weak moment of heart, they take advantage of it.

When you want to believe in them, they lie straight to your face.

The only thing they love is the drug. And they will do anything to get it.

And we, the loved ones, are left hurting. Sometimes the pain is so great it becomes physical. And sometimes, I just want to crawl into a closet and cry and ignore everyone and everything. I just don’t want to deal with anything especially an addict.

I did absolutely nothing to deserve this pain except love my son, an addict.

Don’t get me wrong- I am usually a very strong person but just sometimes, the pain is to great to bear.

But instead of crawling my head into a hole, I did what I always do for the past 28 years- call my dearest friend, the one who’s son was killed by a drunk driver just 84 days ago.

She has her own pain to deal with and I could never imagine being in her shoes. But as usual, she always has the right things to say.

You see, her brother was an addict too. He died from his abuse. She understands.

He put her parents and family thru living hell. And that is exactly what addiction is to everyone involved, not just the addict.

What we all need is someone that understands.

As I have said before:

The addict has an escape-the drugs.

The family has no escape of the reality.

An Open Letter To My Drug Addicted Son

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with you. I was told I wouldn’t be able to have children.  

 I was excited and in shock.

I carried you for 9 months.  I felt your first movement of life.

And when you were born, it was the happiest day of my life.

Born with you, were all my hopes and dreams for your future.

You were such an easy baby. A happy child. Your smart, funny, persistant. You were always such a joy to be around. There wasn’t a person that didn’t like you or that could say anything bad about you.

You were voted by your classmates as most likely to become famous, and also the class clown.

You taught yourself to play guitar and you were so good at it.

And I miss hearing you play.

I miss a lot of things about you.

Your laugh, your jokes. The times we sit around the dinner table talking and discussing everything.

I miss your beautiful smile.

Things I haven’t seen in awhile.

I never asked to be an addict’s mother. It is a role that nobody could ever be prepared for. There isn’t a book titled “What to Expect when you’re an addict’s mother.”

The hardest thing I have ever had to do is to sit on the sideline and watch you deteriorate back into an empty shell time and time again, knowing I am helpless to help you.

Nothing reaches you. And its sad and scary at the same time.

From the first time you used a drug, you disappeared and the past seven years, we all have been living in a dark abyss.

This life you are leading… is NOT you.

I know this because of the sober times you have had, sometimes months at a time. This just makes it harder on everyone when you continuously return to drugs.

You don’t relapse.

You dive right off a cliff.

Each time, worse than the last, deeper in the water and harder to reach.

The past 2 months you have had 3 hospitalizations all due to drug use and robbed at gunpoint.

When will you hit the bottom? Do you even have one?

A month ago, we sat and talked, while you were sober in the hospital. You held my hand ever so tight as tears ran down your face.

I know you don’t want to be like this. I know you are struggling. I can see and feel your pain.

Please hit the bottom soon because I am not prepared to be an Angel mom or a prison mom.

As I told you when you held my hand, you are not in this alone.

As long as you are still breathing, there is hope.

It’s time to make the choice to change.  

I will always love you more than you ever know.

Childhood trauma and the ACE score

When you go to meetings, IOP or counseling, there is a lot of talk about childhood traumas as a cause of addiction.

The ACE study ( Adversed Childhood Experiences) formulated a score to access one’s risk of addiction. Factors such as:

Having an addicted parent

Having a parent that’s been incarcerated

Being sexual abused

Having a parent that’s been physically abused

Growing up in a home with lots of yelling

Having a family member that’s depressed or has a mental illness

Having parents that are divorced or separated

I wholeheartedly agree that any of those could lead to drug abuse and addiction.

But what if none of those apply?

Every counselor and meeting continuously talks about childhood trauma .

I have to wonder what trauma my son had?

Was it the private school education?

Or maybe the yearly family vacations and the summers spent fishing in the Florida Keys ?

Maybe it was the nightly discussions and debates at the dinner table covering any and every topic, from politics, world events, etc.

Or maybe it was just having two parents very much in love, who love their children too much? Who believed that spending and investing time with their children was the most important thing as a parent and as a family.

I know plenty of people who did suffer trauma as children who are not addicts.

And I know people, my son included, who suffered no trauma and still became addicts.

So I really don’t buy into the meetings that constantly talk about it.

I think it’s more to do with genetics and personality traits.

I believe the drug problem is worse today because society as a hole is worse.

Just my opinions.

Two deaths in two days

Sorry I haven’t been around. Life has been stressful.

This past week, I’ve spent several days in ICU waiting room with my oldest, dearest best friend.

Her beautiful boy was hit by a drunk driver a week ago. He was on a motorcycle and was wearing a helmet.

Today he joined the angels in heaven. He was only 24. He leaves behind a beautiful young widow and 2 very young innocent children.

He was loved by so many. Was an awesome kid. Never in any trouble. Not a single person could say anything bad about him.

It was horrible to watch his mother and wife say their last goodbyes as his heart made its last beat.

There are no comforting words for my dear friend or his wife.

It’s every parents worst nightmare to loose a child .

During the midst of all of this, my sister received “the call” that my niece had died of an overdose. She had battled addiction for the past twenty years. She was found alone in a motel room.

Her drug addiction had alienated her from everyone.

It’s sad. So very sad.

Two different scenarios but with the same heartache and pain.

Life is so unfair.

Something needs to be done because the current models of therapy and treatment just don’t work.

And I can only hope that the saying “bad things happen in three’s” is wrong.

I can’t handle another bad thing right now.

Hope for the Best~ Prepare for the Worst

So it’s been 6 days since my son overdosed and was REVIVED with 3 doses of narcan. 

I am hopeless. 

I try to have hope but he makes it  impossible. 

He is in denial. Doesn’t think he has a problem. Refuses any and all help. He has this all under control. It was just an accident.

I know there is nothing I can do or say to him right now. 

Nothing that hasn’t already been said. 

Nothing we haven’t already tried. 

All I can do is start planning his funeral. I have to do this for me. Because I realize that there is no possible way I could deal with it when the time comes. 

I am purchasing a pre paid funeral plan. 

I asked him to come over to talk. 

I asked him what his preferences are. 

I think he didn’t take any of it serious. Thought it was a huge joke. But hopefully he will think about it. 

I was surprised that he wants to be buried. I told him maybe a good thing because at least I will have a place to go visit, mourn and place flowers. 

He could only come up with 2 friends to be pallbearers. You need 6-8. 

He said his sister can read the eulogy. I’m not sure she will be able to get thru it. His addiction has affected her so much. She is in counseling for it. 

They were so close growing up. Only 17 months apart. They were best friends. Until the drugs started. He hasn’t given her the time of day for 7 years. And still- she cries everyday over him. 

He has no idea of music, verses , poems or anything. 

I will need to decide all this myself. And like I said, I will do it now because I won’t be able to deal with it when the time comes.

I asked him what his obituary shall say. He had no idea. He has no accomplishments to list. Unless you count graduating drug court- only to use again. 

My heart is so heavy. He has no idea of the burden his drug use has placed on the family. And nor does he care. 

The drugs have made him blind to anything and everything. He is an empty shell .

 He has no idea how much he is loved, how much his choice to use drugs have wrecked havoc and destruction in anyone’s life in his path. 

The addict has an escape— the drugs. 

The family has no escape of the reality. 

It hurts. 

It hurts so much. 

There is no greater pain than mourning the loss of a loved one that is still alive

At least with death there is closure. 

But as long as he is breathing- 

I will try to find hope. 

The Call

So I got “the call” this morning but NOT actually “final” call.

My son overdosed last night. A first for him but I’m sure it won’t be the last.

EMS was called. They gave him 2 doses of nasal narcan and then one dose IV.

The police told me they were Marchmen acting him.

Of course, I freaked out. I called his girlfriend to try to get his roommates phone number.

I told her what the police told me.

Well, the police wanted him held but the ER doctor released him.

He says he was just “drunk”.

Narcan doesn’t work if you are just “drunk”.

Now- he is calling me DEMANDING that I tell his girlfriend I over reacted. Apparently she wants to break up with him over his use of drugs.

Yet somehow, this is my fault?

Says if I don’t “fix” this, he really will od?

What am I suppose to do?

Nothing- I know there is nothing I can do.

I’m just numb.

Not sure if it’s my medical background or what? I have given CPR to more people than I can count. I have seen numerous people die.

And I have been dealing with his drug use for seven years.

I’m just numb and done.

The Addict’s Thought Process

Or should I say, the lack of rational thinking.

I remember this commercial in the 80’s:

Of course, as a teen back then, I thought the commercials were stupid and I’m sure the teens today would agree. But now, 30 something years later, my mind automatically thinks of that commercial and I can finally relate.

There is no rational thinking when you use drugs. His brain has been hijacked.

The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin word for “enslaved by”. Anyone who has struggled to overcome an addiction or has tried to help someone else to do so-understands why. Addiction exerts a powerful influence on the brain that manifests in 3 distinct ways: craving, loss of control over use and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences.”

Even as I read all this and research more into addiction, it is still hard to fathom how someone can throw everything away -for drugs- time and time again.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

Sooner or later, a normal brain would realize that the common denominator in everything that has gone wrong is the drugs.

So while a normal person might realize this after once or twice, the addicted brain does not. I guess that is why is sometimes takes several attempts at rehab before it “clicks” and sometimes it never will.

I hope my son will realize this soon, that a better life awaits, once the drugs are taken out of the picture for good, and his brain can finally heal and catch up.

What My Son’s Drug Addiction Cost Me

And NO, I’m not really talking about the monetary costs. That’s a whole different subject.

I saw this post on Facebook the other day and it really got me thinking on how I wanted his teenage years to go. How I pictured it and how it happened are completely different.

And the more I think about it…

The madder I become.

His addiction robbed me of being the parent that I wanted to be.

I always wanted my home to be the safe place that all his friends would come and hang out.

And it was…

Until the drugs entered his life.

Because of drugs,

There was no prom,

No college visits,

No high school graduation.

I see all my friends–all his friends--hitting milestones in their lives.

And it’s so sad.

Instead, I had to become a spy, at everything.

And I became damn good at it.

I learned to look up public arrest records of all his friends and their parents.

I put spyware on his computer and phone.

I buy drug tests by the case.

A GPS tracker on the car.

I learned all the drug lingo that I really wish I never knew.

So trying to “find joy in the story I am living” is

Exceptionally hard.

There is no joy in watching your son slowly slip away and become an empty shell.

And the more I reach, the farther he falls.

Being the mom of an addict is not anything I would wish on my worst enemy.

Not only does the addict become an empty void~

The whole family enters a big black hole.

Same Story ~ Different Page

As parents, it’s always best to put on a united front but that doesn’t seem to happen very often. I feel like my spouse and I are always in the same story but on a different page.

We have different ideas, different views and we disagree A LOT.

As individuals , we form our decisions from our experiences, our knowledge and our feelings.

When I want to be lenient and give “the benefit of doubt”, he wants to be tough or strict.

When I am strict, he becomes soft.

I feel like we are always playing “good cop vs. bad cop“.

It’s like watching a yo-yo go up and down. It’ exhausting.

I often wonder what kind of message that sends to our kids, especially an addict who is already a master of manipulation. I’m sure it’s confusing. Hell, it’s confusing for me.

And I’m not just talking about addiction. We have disagreed on how best to handle many things.

As I have stated in my bio, both of my kids are gifted. I advocated for a grade skip for my daughter for years, to no avail. My husband thought she would be fine no matter what ” just” because she is smart. To me, being smart and bored can lead to bad things. I know this from my own personal experience.

The very thing I was trying to prevent happen to my daughter, happened to my son. Being smart, underchallenged and bored helped lead him down the path of drugs.

As for my daughter, a teacher finally recognized that she was giving up and losing her love and desire to learn. She recommended a grade skip. The rest is history .Four grade skips later, a college degree at 18 and off to graduate school.

So if we couldn’t agree on how to meet the educational needs of our daughter, how were we ever suppose to agree on how to handle our sons addiction?

Yes, we sought expert “advice” for year after year. Attended family counseling, private counseling, meetings. Educated ourselves as much as possible.

And to be honest, even so called “experts” disagree.

As parents, we just don’t always know what is the best way to handle something. Sometimes, we can only make decisions based on the information at hand, and most of the time, we will not know the outcome until much later.

So, I will just sit back, wait, watch and see.

The Not-So-Great Marijuana Debate

So I am just going to throw this one out there and take the repercussions later.

I have to be honest. I smoked weed back in the 80’s in high school. And I hated it. I guess, like many teens including today’s generation, I did it mostly to fit in. But I quickly realized I was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. It wasn’t for me.

I have read numerous research studies proving that today’s weed is so much more potent. The THC content has more than doubled and it has virtually zero CBD to counteract the effect. Just like the tobacco companies modified their product to become more addictive…marijuana has become more addictive too.

Yes, I said it, marijuana is addictive. And so the great or not-so-great marijuana debate begins.

I haven’t always felt like this. I do believe in medical marijuana. I know several people that smoke or consume weed for medical purposes. I also know several people that use for recreational purposes, including ones that you would never imagine. A 70 something grandmother, a 40’ish successful businesswoman, and several of my son’s old classmates. Heck, even my own mother who lives in Colorado uses a THC/CBD oil for her arthritis. She says it works like a charm!

My take has always been- if you can smoke weed and still live a productive life- then have at it. Key word is productive.

That was until my son started smoking it.

On a daily basis.

At 13.

And his life has been anything but productive.

It’s a proven scientific fact , that starting chronic marijuana intake at such a young age, is detrimental to the evolving teenage brain. The normal brain development comes to a screeching halt. So basically, while my son is physically 21 years old, he has the mentality of a 13 year old. And it shows.

He does not have a normal thought process. He never thinks about his future or tomorrow for that matter. He lives in the “now”, and how and when he will next get high. He doesn’t think about consequences until it’s too late.

With so many states and countries for that matter, legalizing marijuana, how, as a parent am I suppose to educate my child of it’s negative effects?

It’s sending mixed messages to the youth of today and creating an uphill battle for parents.

Upon my son’s release from his first inpatient stay at a “therapeutic boys boarding school”, his counselor, against the better judgement of my husband and I, insisted that we allow him to smoke weed with three simple rules. Not in our home, not in our car and not on our property.

Excuse me?? Did I hear that correctly? WTF!

The rational was that by allowing him to use and keep his THC levels under 400 nanograms, was that he would learn to control it.

That was the single most worst piece of advice I have ever received from a professional. Even the judge from drug court said we cannot expect him to never drink or smoke weed again. And my son heard this. Again with the mixed messages.

I have seen several studies that say weed helps in recovery and prevents relapse form harder drugs. I have even seen that some rehabs, mostly out west, allow and encourage it.

Not the case with my son. He is an addict.

He is highly addicted to weed. It’s his “gateway” and always leads him back down the path to harder drugs and a questionable lifestyle.

If you ask my son, what weed has done for him, he will say that it makes him feel normal, takes away his anxiety and makes him friends from many walks of life.

But if you ask me- it has robbed him from his life.

It has got him kicked out of school (twice), arrested (three times), fired from jobs, lost many friends and a few girlfriends, 3 rehabs, 2 sober living facilities, a year of drug court. Kicked out of the house again. And he has absolutely nothing to show for the last eight years.

And still…. he continues.

That is the addicted mind.