Category Archives: Addiction

One Mom Talking 2011

I’m making a new commitment to this blog for 2011.  It’s not a resolution exactly.  Let’s call it a “Plan of Good Intention.”  Here ‘s what you can expect from One Mom Talking over the coming months:

  • Signs and Symptoms of heroin (and other drug) use by young people
  • A parent’s plan of action (what to do once you know)
  • Keeping siblings safe
  • Hope for healing: A Spiritual Perspective
  • Rehab options (private and public)
  • Addiction and the Department of Corrections
  • Speaking Engagements (I might develop a presentation to take to schools and parent groups)
  • Getting us together (reponses to my initial survey showed that parents of addicts yearn for a chance to meet each other in an organized setting)

This year, you will be able to easily share your favorite OMT posts on facebook, twitter or by email (buttons should be easily visible with each post).   One Mom Talking will be on facebook soon as well.  Reaching in and reaching out.   God bless!

Every Day = New Years Day

Happy New Year, everyone.  I sincerely hope that 2011 brings healing, spiritual renewal, and a deep sense of serenity into your lives and the lives of those you love.

As much as I want to detest 2010 (as if a time period has meaning and character all its own), today I gratefully report that 2010 ends (and 2011 begins) with both of my boys in recovery.  I do feel deeply grateful.  I’d like to say that I feel Joyful — but that would be dishonest. 

My melancholy comes partly from needing more time to trust the recovery my sons have committed to, and partly from my own continued need to heal from the addiction that turned our family upside down … and moreso, my daughter’s need to heal, which she has yet to acknowledge.  We have an appointment for a mental health evaluation on January 4.  I am grateful for that.  I’ve been out of work since July and we have no insurance.  Luckily the county we are in has this program for high school students, and so we are getting hooked in. 

All this to say that this year, I take “New Years Day” with a grain of salt.  I’ve returned to Al Anon (which I didn’t do much of last year) and what I’m learning is that every day is New Years Day.  Every day is an opportunity to accomplish whatever we can, to be the best we can be, to encourage those we love, to start over if we’ve erred, to find gratitude, to love ourselves, to pray for a new start. 

During 2010, I spent a lot of time trying to decide who is sick and who is well and who is responsible for what … I’ve let that all go.  On this fun date of 1/1/11, for today, I’m not playing the blame game.  I’m not going to try to analyze my daughter.  I’m not going to try to analyze myself.  I’m going to tell all my children I love them, bake some corn bread, take down the Christmas decorations, and rest.  

One of my Al Anon friends gave me this prayer:  “God, bless [him, her, them] and change me.”   I’m going to stop being like Calvin in this comic, and admit my need for change.  This is my prayer today.

Every day is New Years Day.  Thanks for being here, everyone.  You true blessings in my life, whatever the date may be.

Sibling Struggles

This week I’ve been pondering an import topic that doesn’t get enough attention:  the struggles of siblings of addicts.  There has been some research, and I started to look up a few things, but I think it will take awhile to put a decent article together.  I do recall learning that the siblings – especially (but not exclusively) younger siblings – often enter adulthood with lasting trauma because they do not get the help and attention they need to deal with their issues in relation to the addiction.

This is playing out in my house now.  My daughter, Lynn (I think that’s the name I’m using for her – I’ve changed everyone’s names here) … anyway, Lynn has been having a very hard time.  As some of you know, we moved 1800 miles away from her brothers to give her a chance to finish high school away from the addiction chaos.  Since we’ve moved, she’s become more withdrawn, angry, doesn’t sleep, doesn’t eat well, and missed four days of school because I couldn’t get her out of bed. 

It took three months, but I finally got her to agree to counseling.  After two sessions, I already see an improvement.  She really needed someone outside the family to help her sort things out.  I doubt if they’ve gotten close to the deeper issues, but I’m confident that this will bring her to a better place in herself, where she can begin to deal with the deep stress that comes with having brothers who are addicts.  She loves them deeply, and is afraid of losing them, and yet is angry as well, at them, at me and her dad … it’s a lot for a young girl in the prime of adolescence!

The other reason I write this is that there’s another blogger who’s sister is a heroin addict (http://worksaside.com).  It’s difficult to comprehend the sadness of a sister who has to accept her sister’s addiction.  I’m going to visit my sister for Thanksgiving and I know how grateful I am for her.  And so I’m just caught up today in the emotional journey that siblings have to take as a result of  this tragic twist of fate.

I have no conclusion right now.  I just wanted to share the thoughts.  Thanks for being here.

Heroin Addiction: Symptoms

I was reading something on a website today about how to know if your child is a heroin addict.  It was asking:  does your child need to do heroin every day?  Do they carry a constant supply?  do you see track marks in their arms?

I get the point but…these aren’t the items I would list.  First off — if they’re doing it, they’re probably addicted.  Period.  Second, you probably aren’t going to know if they have a supply, and tracks, sure, that’s an obvious one.  But what about the less obvious, beginning signs?  Here’s my list (in no particular order) (note:  no one symptom means your child is a heroin addict, but they are strong clues, especially if you can say yes to two or three at a time):

  1. You can’t figure out where all your spoons went.  Didn’t you have eight teaspoons in your set?  Maybe one went missing but five?  “Kids — have you seen our spoons?”
  2. Almost all teens sleep late.  But your teen stays in bed until 3PM and now hangs blankets over his/her bedroom windows to keep out every trace of sunlight.  When you complain they slur, “Jeez mom…it’s nothing…I just need to sleep.  Crap.  Leave me alone, it’s not a big deal.” 
  3. Two hours later they are up, awake, full of energy, happy, chatty, cleaning their room, and asking if they can run errands, (complete mood change).  And if you mention the blanket on the window thing, they’ll say yes, sure, okay … but they won’t actually take them down.
  4. Day one: “Mom, can I have money for cigarettes and gas?  I know you gave me some yesterday, but Joe’s mom needed some groceries so I lent him some money to pick them up for her.”  Day two: “Mom, can I have ten dollars for gas?  I know you gave me some yesterday but …”  Day three:  [you know the drill]
  5. I could swear I threw this belt away last week because it’s way to small for him.  What’s it doing on my son’s floor again?  Oh, and here’s the belt his brother was looking for the other day too.  And yet he never wears a belt when he needs to.  Darn kids.
  6. What’s with the little pieces of tin foil laying around these days?  Kids?  What are you doing??
  7. Their friends are just walking in the house without even knocking or saying hello to me.  When did I lose control of this household?
  8. He comes in at midnight like he said he would.  But then you hear the door open again at 2AM and again at 4AM … always another excuse.
  9. A needle in his bathroom cabinet.  Clearly.
  10. The once intelligent, loving boy is now a rebellious, lazy young man.  Face it.  Time to get help.

The Long Road Home

A fellow Blogger, whose sister struggles with opiate addiction, recently reflected on her own history of drug use.  It got me thinking.  I feel so far removed from those days, having walked that long road home a long time ago.

I didn’t use the hard drugs, I tend to say.  Truth is, I didn’t use them very often.  And I never touched a needle, never smoked crack, never went near heroine.  But that doesn’t make me better than anyone who has.

I drank, heavily, almost every night.  And I smoked pot as early as 7:30AM on the ferry ride to Manhattan…on lunch break…on the ferry home…and again that night.  Here and there I tried other drugs as well, mostly in those college years.

Here’s the best timeline, as far as my memory will take me:

  • Had my first drink at a friend’s Sweet 16 pary.  I was almost 17 at the time.  I didn’t get heavy into drinking for awhile.
  • Started smoking pot and drinking more heavily the summer after I graduated high school.  Toward the end of that summer, I was the victim of a violent crime, and that pushed me over the edge, I think, from occasional use of marijuana and alcohol, to regular abuse — as ways to block the pain.
  • I was introduced to “Magic Mushrooms” — hallucinogenics — in freshman year of college.
  • Summer after that: speed, hash, and cocaine.
  • Second year of college brought acid … LSD.  This was the 70s.  It’s what we had.  I found it interesting, but scary, and only tried it three times total.

I didn’t use any of these drugs frequently, and my experimentation lasted only a few years, total.  I was too afraid — and rightly so.  I felt like I was already on the edge of sanity in those years and had no desire to push myself beyond that point.   The alcohol was the hardest to kick, many, many years later.  Now, I have one or two drinks once or twice a week.  Sometimes less.  Never more. 

The difference between me and my addict son?  Maybe a chromosome?  Some random difference in brain chemistry?  I’m sorry he is an addict.  I’m sorry he has such a long road home.  I found my way.  I try to have faith that he’ll find his.

“Hello. Please arrest my son”

This is the phone call I have to make.  And yet I am hesitant.

Dan broke into my house again.  What we think he does is, he comes in the house when i’m not home (but his younger siblings are) and he says he needs to quickly use the bathroom or make a phone call.  When in that part of the house, he quickly unlocks a window.  Then, when no one is home, he comes in the window.  We could have sworn that everything was locked.  But today, during a two-hour window when no one was home, Dan got in our house and stole his brother’s ipod touch — the gift I bought Al for all his hard work staying clean, going to school, and holding a steady job.  THEN, Dan called a mutual friend and said, “Call Al and find out his password for his ipod.”  We found out that you can’t pawn an I-Touch without the password to unlock it.

How did he get in?  We were so confused.  We had checked every window a couple of days before and none of us had opened any since.  Then Al checked the bathroom.  Despite the fact that his razor was on the window and several items looked undisturbed on the windowsill, the window was unlocked.  That must have been his route.  CRAP.

I cannot take it anymore.  I have to report him.  I have not wanted to.  You might recall Dan is in a diversion program through the court because of a felony charge for giving heroin to his brother.  So turning him in puts that charge on his record permanently.  I know, I know that he has to face his own consequences.  It is very hard, though, as a mom to set this all into play.  I will.  But I might do it tomorrow.  I feel so scared for him.  I wish it didn’t have to be me.

God bless you all and your families and your children.    ~Kay

Takin’ it to the streets…

Some of you have been living with this already, I know.  Last night Dan’s dad had to let him go to the streets.  We discovered he has taken things from our homes to pawn to get drug money.  We drew that boundary awhile ago — steal from us and you’re out.  So he’s  out.  I guess I can be thankful the snow is gone and we’re having warm weather.  Last time we kicked him out he lived in his car.  But now he has no car…and no phone.  So he’s out there somewhere.  Takin’ it to the streets. 

p.s. This Sunday, Easter Day, will be one year since that first phone call from the police — the first time I heard the word “heroin” in connection to my boy.  Interesting timing.

Prayers to all.  And much love.  And God’s blessings in whatever form they need to take to let you know that we are not alone.  XOXO

Happy Birthday, Danny

Dan turned 20 yesterday.  See how this cake is a little wobbly?  It’s an appropriate image for how we all felt yesterday — Dan included.  We all planned to go out to dinner — his father, brother, sister and I, plus Dan and his girlfriend.  We planned to leave at 7PM.  Dan went out at 2:00 with a friend.  tick.  tick.  tick.  Seven o’clock and no Dan.  7:15.  At 7:20 he comes in the door.  No explanation.  A mumbled “sorry.”  His sister had already given up and gone out with her friends, and his girlfriend wasn’t with him.  So four of us went.  Awkward. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am, in my deepest heart, thankful for another birthday.  But seeing the tracks on his arms … it was hard to feel any mood of celebration. 

Heppy Birthday, Danny my boy.

Moving Forward/Letting Go

Maybe this is it.  Dan came over last night.  He looked good.  i didn’t see any marks on his arms.  (I know  you can smoke heroin but I also know that his preferred method of use is the needle).   I gave him his Christmas gifts. 

It was an awkward visit.  We’re both trying not to have his addiction be the center of every conversation.  And yet, until he gets his life going, there’s not much else to say.   So we talked about his recovery: he is wondering what to do with himself since he cannot go back to his old circle of friends; he will start job searching; he is still journaling about his experience; he hopes to get an apartment in a few months — ready to move forward away from his parents at this point.

Positive:  I told him I was trying to get through to a program where they’d give him suboxone (a drug that settles the cravings).  He asked me to give him the number, and said he would make the calls.  That’s a big step in my mind — that he is ready to take the responsibility for his own recovery to that extent.  Heck.  He’ll be 20 in a couple of months.  Mama is learning to let go.

Another New Start

Dan came home from Rehab 2 yesterday.  Not home to my house though; home to his dad’s.  I was nervous.  The hardest part is not knowing what to expect.  I do see some differences this time though:

He’s not talking like it’s going to be easy.  The first time he came out of rehab, he talked idealistically about how he was changing his life.  He was full of rose-colored optimism.  Constantly reassuring me.  And he was lying the whole time.  Using the whole time.  Now, he’s talking about the struggle.  About how he hopes he can make it.  How he hopes he can grow strong enough to serve as an example to others.  But he knows it will be hard.  He told me, “I’m doing my best mom.  I hope I can do it.  I think I can.  But please know that I might mess up.”  Realism.  A good sign.

He will drive 30 miles to his after care counseling three times a week.  He is not arguing against this.  Last time he insisted that he didn’t need support.  This time, he says he realizes the only way he can make it is to have a support system in place.

So I’m hoping.  But there is that little knot in my stomach.  The good news — it’s not there all the time.  I don’t think about it all the time.  I am sleeping.  I am focusing on my other children, my job, my house and not obsessing on Dan and addiction all the time.  Another new start for Dan.  Another new start for the family. 

Praying for you all, and grateful for your support!