I am glad you wrote back. Its a curious bond we parents of children with drug issues have. Our stories are all so different and yet strikingly similar. We all strive for some closure to the problem, rejoice at the successes,and cry at the failures. I just wanted to reach out to your because as I read through your blog I can see the increasing frustration and sadness with your situation. I think the most important factor in J’s life, that will see him through and out of the nightmare is having a loving family who supports him. That doesn’t mean accepting bad behavior, drug use etc., just that you are there to help him make better choices. Many will eventually figure out that their are more negatives than positives in using drugs. I think that is the key in finding each persons path to remaining drug free, the balance has to be on the drug free side.
It is hard to give our whole convoluted story in one email but the gist is my 27 year old son has had a decade of substance abuse to varying degrees. He is an interesting person, bright, intelligent, funny, good looking….. I don’t know how he ever ran off the tracks so badly. Like most parents I feel a tremendous amount of guilt…. why didn’t I stop it earlier? That is a question I do not have the answer to, I will struggle with that until the end of time. I have cried more tears than I ever knew I had. He had an injury which led to some prescription use/abuse, it masked the severity of the problem and allowed it to intensify. He is the youngest of our three children, the other two are successful and doing well in their lives. It is an advantage for us in that his problems/behaviors don’t effect the other siblings in the same way that J effects your families lives…..they certainly have their concerns, frustrations and anger with him (and sometimes with us) but I know it is different than your situation. Right now he is doing well, for that we are happy. Time is our friend, the longer he is drug free the higher the likelihood he will stay on course, time will tell.
I think for us, realizing and accepting that our son was going to have to find his own way, with our help of course, but he was steering his own ship, was the most helpful. Anything in the counseling and veiled 12 step programs probably did him more harm than good, he is an unapologetic atheist. If people are successful with those programs, wonderful, but it was not working for him …at all. He was on Suboxone for awhile but I personally feel its just another drug. If used correctly i think it can do a great job of getting someone to stop using long enough to get some traction. When my son, I will call S, went to his doctor he was told the plan was to keep him on for a year, perhaps life. Along with that script he had Atavan and Flourazipan, I am a huge sceptic of the medical profession and see huge amounts of money being made ….. just saying…..
I remember, early in my search for finding the ‘cure’ and talking on the phone to a young counselor from an expensive Florida rehab talking to me and saying he had been in rehab eleven times before it clicked ….. now he is working for the program and doing fine. It made me wonder if it was anything they did for him or simply time and maturing that helped him…. who knows? I would have sent my son to one of those places but my husband resisted and I now believe for us that was best.
My son is very bright, and I don’t say that with great pride, just a fact. He has used his intellect more often for bad than good and I would gladly trade IQ points for behavioral points. It has enabled him to weasel out of many situations that he should have had to pay the consequences for. Amazingly, he was able to graduate in four years from a good college so we are in the fortunate position that if he has successfully left his substance abuse issues behind him for good he can hit the floor running. For that I am thankful.
I won’t presume to give advice, we are certainly not the poster parents for any kind of successful approach to this crazy problem and have made many many mistakes along the way. But I would like to tell you, as a mother what did help me. I will throw my ideas out there and you can put them with all the piles of information I am sure you have found.. We have had both successes and failures, highs and lows.
S went to a rehab that he did not stay long at and also spent some time in a halfway house where he was miserable. I think being exposed to the types of people who he was with opened his eyes. Many were men nearing forty and still struggling trying to find a life. There were some real lowlifes there…… “welcome to your world son”. I think there were as many drugs and alcohol problems there as anywhere else. We agreed to have him come home with some pretty strict rules which he agreed to. We wrote them out in a contract and he signed them. I think it is good for them to realize if they continue the path they are on life will suck, well too bad, choose another path. He is an adult and free to leave any time He had to stay in the house or yard. He had no TV in his room, no cell phone, and no car use. No going out with friends. The door to his room had to be open and a drug test at any time was our right….no excuse, stand around and drink until you can pee, in front of me (seen it before kid) he failed twice. Absolutely no drugs, we relented on alcohol which I am sure some would take issue to. But sharing a beer with his dad did have a good bonding effect and I believe although there are certainly crossover addictions some people can successfully and moderately use alcohol. Who the hell knows? That is his choice. In a perfect world I would love to see total abstinence but as we all know this world is not perfect……. He worked, the money he received went straight to me…. and I kept it, doling it ten dollars at a time for cigarettes (another habit i would love to see him quit but one battle at a time). Any prescriptions I kept and doled out. I think it was terribley demeaning to him but TOO FREAKING BAD. I kept my purse in a locked box and I know it hurt him when getting his money out …watching me be so untrusting…. TOO FREAKING BAD. He was generally good with the whole set up, not perfect but all in all did pretty well. As time went on and he was doing well the rules were relaxed, he got a girlfriend, we gave him space…… as long as he stays clean he can live his life.
I left a notebook left in his room with thoughts, advice and motivational quotes, both when things were going well and when they were not. The idea was for him to write back, which he occasionally did (always lovingly as I know, even as his behavior has caused havoc in our lives, he is sorry for it), but mostly it was just my entries. It was good for me because I had time to carefully think of what I wanted to say and often cut out our used quotes about our situation. I found simple comments that in a few words said thinks more eloquently than I ever could. It was cathartic for me, and let me express both my love and frustration with him. S often woke up to the sayings taped to the bathroom mirror…….I can be relentless!
“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle”
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going”
“We are all strangers to our hidden potential until we confront problems that reveal our capabilities”
“Be STRONG because things will get better. It may be stormy now but it never rains forever”
Have you read any of the online sites for non AA/NA programs? I found the SMART program was the one that mostly closely mirrored my beliefs on addiction. They do have meetings in some areas, I went to one and really liked it, non judgmental, very pragmatic. I never got S to one but did get a workbook from them with their ideas which he read. There is a whole range of what people accept or believe about addiction.There is no right or wrong……… just different beliefs. I personally do not believe addiction is a disease but a bad behavior. I wish I had read some of the alternatives to the disease model earlier. Dr. Stanton Peele has some great books and ideas on the subject – you can google search him. The Orange Papers is also good.If you haven’t seen the sites and like them I can send the links.
This process has changed me in many ways but I think the most important is I am less judgmental of people.
I wish you all the best with your journey with J. Give him a big hug from me………. love the boy, hate the behavior. Tell him a complete stranger thinks about him often and believes he can make the choice to start making decisions that will give him a life he will be happy with.
Paste this on his mirror…..:}
“WHAT LIES BEHIND US AND WHAT LIES BEFORE US ARE SMALL MATTERS COMPARED TO WHAT LIES WITHIN US. AND WHEN WE BRING WHAT IS WITHIN US OUT INTO THE WORLD, MIRACLES HAPPEN”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I wish you and your family all the best and hope to read good things in your blog. I can tell from your writings you are a loving mother. One of the sites I was reading said you can’t love someone out of addiction….. I think that was one of the hardest things for me to really believe.