Bringing My Son Back from Addiction
Addiction has consumed my life for years. I have learned several different lessons throughout my journey—all of which I previously denied in the beginning and for many years. I constantly fought with myself and others. It didn’t matter who was telling me the truth, because I knew better. After all, he was my son and our love as a family was all we needed to conquer anything thrown at us—even addiction. I had to finally accept the truth and admit that my son had an addiction issue and just my love for him wasn’t going to save his life. It was embarrassing and made me feel ashamed and a failure as a mother.
I had to finally accept the truth and admit that
my son had an addiction issue and just my love for him
wasn’t going to save his life.
I love my sons unconditionally. I would do anything to remove any pain they were feeling. I would do anything to take away the addiction of my oldest son. I would even give my life if it would only help a little.
I raised my sons the best way I knew. I have always wanted to fix any problems they had, come to their rescue, advocate for them and take care of everything thrown their way. However, I couldn’t do this, and I also didn’t prepare them well enough to deal with their problems.
When my oldest son started to use opioids I was in denial. No way would a son of mine use drugs. I taught my sons that drugs are bad for you and I believed, naïvely, that neither would ever touch drugs. This isn’t saying that educating your kids about drugs won’t prevent them from using drugs, because it certainly can and does for many—but not all—and not mine.
My oldest son started with marijuana in his teens. I thought he would outgrow this and that it was just a “phase.” That phase led to prescription drugs and eventually to heroin. His addiction turned not only his life down a dark and dreary path, but it turned our family in that direction as well.
While trying to focus on my youngest son, I was tired, scared, upset and anxious about my older son’s drug use. I would go out every day during lunchtime to search for him. I needed to make sure he was alive and had eaten. When he moved hours away, I would call or text him every day and if he didn’t respond, I would start to think he was dead. When my phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number, I would immediately go into anxiety thinking it was the police to say he was in jail or dead. I tried to reassure my youngest son that his brother would beat this and be ok. My youngest saw a lot of hurt and frustration and also wanted to have his brother off drugs. Most nights I would go to bed crying and praying that I would have another day with my son.
I thought I was helping my son by getting him groceries or taking him out to eat, allowing him at times to live with me, giving him money or a car or two, paying his car insurance, gas, tickets, cell phone, student loans, apartment, etc. I always made excuses to myself as to why I needed to do these things; excuses such as:
He needs to eat.
He needs a car for work.
If I pay his tickets, he will be less stressed and not turn back to drugs.
I did these things even after being lied to, manipulated and treated at times with disrespect. I did it because after each time he went to rehab, I would believe he was “fixed” and could be trusted again. I wanted him to be fixed so badly and return to the person I thought I once knew. I wanted to be able to trust him. These were excuses and enabling behaviors on my part.
My son went to five different rehab facilities along with a couple of half-way houses. Four out of the five rehabs were for an average of 28 days, except for one that was 90 days. New ideas were presented and I hoped that this time he would be all better—only to have my hopes crushed again. I pushed for him to get a sponsor, go to NA groups, attend the 12-step program and get on Vivitrol. These things may work for some people and may have saved some lives, but they were not the answer for my son.
I was losing hope that he would beat this horrible addiction
and I thought that I would soon be planning his funeral.
I cried many nights, asking the good Lord,
“Why my son? Why my family?”
After his fifth time in a rehab, he relapsed again. I was losing hope that he would beat this horrible addiction and I thought that I would soon be planning his funeral. I cried many nights, asking the good Lord, “Why my son? Why my family?” I kept going because of my kids and my faith. I knew I couldn’t stop trying, but I realized that I was actually feeding his addiction. I had been going about it all wrong and enabling him. I made it easier for my son to “use” by providing his basic needs and paying his bills. Doing these things, I thought I was just helping as a loving mother and trying to eliminate stress that would cause him to do drugs; however, I was causing him guilt and shame.
Having an aftercare plan is very important once a person leaves rehab and a plan was developed for my son after leaving the last rehab place: he would be drug-tested once a week at random times, I would see phone numbers that he would be calling and ensure who they were, his bank account would be checked to see if he was taking out money and someone from the rehab place would call him daily to check on him, or he could call them at any time. This was the best plan from any rehab place so far and I was feeling good about this and felt that he would beat his addiction this time. Everything was in place and the drug results were coming back negative and things were good. However, the lies and manipulation began again; my son knew how to tamper with the drug test, lied about the phone numbers, and lied about the bank account.
Then something happened that made me realize that a drastic change must be made or he would be dead in the very near future. One night I received a call from my son. He was out walking his dog and we were just chatting. It started out being a very nice call. We were just talking about nothing in particular when, suddenly, he became quiet. I said “Hey are you still there?” Getting no answer, I asked again, and he responded in a very weak voice. Things became very quiet again, so I said, “Hey are you ok?”—no answer. So I asked again and all I heard was a very mumbled voice. I got scared and started yelling his name over and over but there was no response.
I fell to the floor screaming and crying,
“Oh my God, my child is dead.”
I fell to the floor screaming and crying, “Oh my God, my child is dead.” I finally got up and called his sponsor/friend and ask him to go look for my son. I then called the police. His sponsor called me back to say he couldn’t find him. What seemed liked hours (but was more like 15-20 minutes), my son stopped at the sponsor’s house and called me to say his phone had died and that he was sorry that he had scared me. To this day, I don’t know why, but that situation has traumatized me more than anything he did over the years of his addiction. I have had nightmares where the call plays over and over in my mind and randomly I begin to cry. I had fallen into a deep depression, didn’t talk to friends or family much, didn’t get involved in activities that I like, took more time off from work than usual, stayed home and watched TV, didn’t clean my house like I usually do and I gained a lot of weight.
I tell this story because it is important to find support for yourself, whether it is through meetings, your family, friends or church. You must take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of your family. I used my family, friends and church to help me get through this episode and I learned that as much as you love your loved one, you must not enable them, and your support group can help you with this.
Most importantly, you must find a rehab facility that will work for your loved one. I had a person I was close to in my life who recommended Narconon New Life Retreat which uses a holistic approach and works on the entire person. There isn’t a set time frame, like 14, 28 or 90 days, since it is based on the person and how they progress. They first help the person to get all the drugs out of their system and then concentrate on the underlying issues and how to manage those issues without using drugs. They don’t use drugs like Vivitrol or Suboxone to help someone stay sober. I took a leap of faith in sending my son to Narconon, to give myself some hope once again.
Now my son is thriving and his success has come from doing the program at Narconon New Life Retreat. I personally feel Narconon has saved my son as well as our family. My son is working at Narconon now and rebuilding his life, which is still a work in progress. We are rebuilding a new kind of a healthy relationship as a family. I am starting to figure out how to live a life without fearing that something bad is going to happen to my son. I had lost the “know how” to live my life, but with the help, Narconon has provided to my son, I am now able to move forward. If sharing my story helps even one person, then I’m thankful for telling it.
If you have a loved one or someone you know who needs help, don’t wait. With Narconon’s help, there is hope.
—R.S. Mother of a Narconon Graduate