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!
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 Since we’ve moved, she’s become more withdrawn, angry, doesn’t sleep, doesn’t eat well, and missed four days of school because I couldn’t get her out of bed.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.
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):
- 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?”
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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]
- 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.
- What’s with the little pieces of tin foil laying around these days? Kids? What are you doing??
- Their friends are just walking in the house without even knocking or saying hello to me. When did I lose control of this household?
- 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.
- A needle in his bathroom cabinet. Clearly.
- The once intelligent, loving boy is now a rebellious, lazy young man. Face it. Time to get help.
I bring my daughter to a counselor awhile back, and we all talk together, and the counselor says, “It sounds like she’s exhibiting normal teen behavior. She just wants to be treated like a normal teen.” I say, “Her two older siblings both exhibited what I thought was ‘normal teen behavior’ — they both tried heroin and one is an addict. How am I supposed to have a clue about what is ‘normal’?” The counselor paused. She looked at me and nodded.
Technology alone has made my kids’ teen years very different from mine. But let’s think about it. Some level of isolation is normal for a teen. Moodiness, wanting to sleep late, wanting a lot of time with friends, becoming more private, less social with family … all “normal teen behavior.”
Honestly, at some point I knew my boys’ behaviors had breached the “normal” boundary. But I didn’t know when it happened. It snuck up on me. I don’t want that to happen with my daughter.
I’m moving her across the country to be near my family. Four weeks from now we hit the road. She wants this. She cried out for this. Her dad is furious. He says I’m ending his relationship with her. I said he had fifteen years to create a relationship with her. I’m trying to give her a couple of “normal teenage years” before it’s too late. It’s the best choice I see right now. And that’s all I can do — make the best choice that I see right now.
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
So my son’s life is his journey. In don’t know his purpose. I don’t know God’s plan for him — the details I mean. Here I am awake at almost 1AM. Can’t help it. Can’t sleep. He’s out there somewhere. But I’m praying to let it go. Because I don’t know his journey, his purpose, God’s plan. There are so many possibilities. Just as Jesus went to his death to give us life, so perhaps my son walks a death path to provide something that I cannot imagine … somehow. If he comes out of it, he might save others with his testimony. Or, among his drug-user friends, he might say something that turns someone else around. Or his example stops others from going to drugs. I have to find meaning in what feels meaningless. And only God can provide that.
I have so much to say and yet so little. My heart is breaking and I’m numb. I know what’s right and think that nothing is right. I miss my son and hope he stays away and I want him home. Yep. One big bundle of everything.
Tomorrow, I will take a walk in the sun and live fully. It’s the only real choice.
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