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.

My “Beautiful Boy”

Once upon a time… the story begins. It usual ends with “they lived happily ever after” but this ending is yet to be determined.

There is a movie streaming on Amazon Prime. It’s called “Beautiful Boy”. It’s the real life story of David Sheff, author and journalist, about his unconditional love for his meth addicted son , Nic . It is probably the most authentic portrayal of addiction I have seen but it’s only a glimpse in the daily life of a family affected by this disease.

When I watched this movie (3 times already), I can’t help but feel that I am watching a replay of the last eight years of my life. The constant worrying, the heartache and tears, the begging, pleading and policing, the feeling of helplessness and wondering what went wrong to lead my son down this gut wrenching path. Similar story, different drug of choice, but the same beautiful boy.

Like David, I dove into reading and research. Read and research some more. Joined online support groups, sought counseling and attended a few meetings in person. What I didn’t do, was tell anyone other than my closest of friends and let me tell you, that makes for such a lonely existence.

The stigma that society places on drug addiction is paralyzing. Your damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you openly admit that you have a drug addict as a child, society automatically points a finger at you and blames you for being a “bad parent”. If you stay silent and hidden, then you live a very isolated life in sorrow and pain. You avoid answering questions about your child and well, quite frankly, people start to avoid you because they have already heard it all anyway.

Last year, a cop friend of mine was recovering from surgery and looking for some books to read. I took this opportunity to loan him my copy of “Beautiful Boy” and a copy of Nic Sheff’s book “Tweak” in hopes to educate him more on drug addiction. I know that cops deal with addicts on a daily basis but my hope was for him to see the other side of the story. That these addicts he deals with are somebody’s son, daughter, sister, brother, mother or father. They are people with a disease, not just criminals.

Well, that was a huge fail! His only take on the two books was that Nic did not get sober until his father cut him off. What the books didn’t reveal and the movie didn’t show, was that Nic relapsed at least two to three times after that. Nic revealed this in his second book We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction. David didn’t cut his son Nic off completely. He set healthy boundaries and still showed Nic that he loved him no matter what.

With that… I will leave you with this…

My favorite picture ever of my son. Although, a very old picture when he was very young, it always reminds me of his best attributes. He is so kind, loving, compassionate, smart, inquisitive, funny and full of life. When I look at my son, this is what I see. During his sober moments, I still see glimpses of my “beautiful boy” waiting to emerge and I will never give up on him.