I remember the day my son walked into my little health food store and announced that he was addicted to pain killers. It’s been a while since that day. Such a long time that I am not even sure of the year it happened. I think it was January of 2002. Some time after that day my son became a hard-core heroin addict.
As I look back on the progression of his addiction I see all the bad choices I made when, at the time, I tried to believe I was helping him. Some things I did without even thinking of him or my family. I thought only of myself. I thought of what I could do to make things easier for myself. Enabling a drug addict hurts the people around you as much as the drug addict hurts his family.
Back in 2002 I had been divorced from my children’s Dad for many years. My daughter was living with her boyfriend not too far from home. This left my son and I alone to start a co-dependent relationship. I was a great enabler and my son accepted my enabling gratefully.
Many terrible things happened during those ten years. The worst being the death of my son’s ex-girlfriend from an overdose. My son also lost many other friends to addiction. My house was robbed quite a few times. They always came when we weren’t home except for one time when my son was home alone. Two masked men came to the door and somehow my son scared them off before they could get into the house. Another time when he was home alone two of his supposed friends visited him. One of them pulled out a gun demanding all the money my son had. I don’t think that I recognized the real danger we were in at the time. Also during this time I was suffering from severe depression and didn’t recognize that either.
I still write about these things trying to understand the reality of what transpired hoping at the same time to understand more about myself.
My son tried many times over the 10 years to become clean and sober. He was in detox many times and always walked out of rehab with good intentions, sometimes staying clean for a few months at a time. Unfortunately, his addiction always followed him around waiting to pounce on him when he was depressed and upset.
My son’s dream as a boy was to be a fisherman and even through those years of addiction he would travel to Florida for the winters to get jobs on boats. He had attended The New England Maritime Academy before he became a heroin addict. At that time he smoked pot and quit so he could take the drug test after he graduated so he could get his Captain’s license. He never got the license though he graduated with flying colors. During the times he was sober he became a great fisherman and First Mate on various charter boats though his addiction always took hold of him at some point.
My son finally hit rock bottom last summer. Both his Dad and I had agreed not to help him with anything including food. I had moved into my daughter’s house so I couldn’t provide him with shelter any more. I also gave my daughter all my income, what little there was. It was the only way, it seemed, to stop me from helping him. I had lost everything and gotten into debt giving my son all my money over the years. My daughter was stronger than me and never enabled him to her credit. It was a big concession on my daughter’s part to let me move in with her and her husband. She was hurt and angry because of the unhealthy relationship between my son and I and she had cause to be but being the generous daughter that she is she saved me. She saved me from myself and for that I will always be in her debt. It was a selfless act on her part.
On Friday, July 29th 2011 my son took something that wasn’t his and sold it. He took the money, about $600, and bought drugs. I’m surprised he survived that weekend with all the heroin he shot up. I got a call the following Monday. He was in detox. I got another call about 5 days later and he told me he was going to go to a long-term facility. He had never done this before. He had never wanted to invest the time into getting well. He always insisted he could do it by himself. 8 months later he left North Cottage Treatment Center.
It was a long 8 months for him but he gave it all he had. He was almost unrecognizable when he left there. He had put on weight and looked the healthiest I had seen him in such a long time. The biggest change was his attitude. He was 30 years old and had finally become a man.
Yesterday my daughter and I went to an AA meeting with Damon. He had asked her if she would present him with his 1 year sober medallion. After listening to some speakers she was told to go to the podium. She managed to get a few words out of her mouth when the tears started flowing which, of course, made me cry too. It was a dream come true to see them together and hear her tell him “I love you”.
Me, Damon and Kirsten (Damon’s wonderful girlfriend) at dinner before the meeting
My daughter, Sarah, and her Dad who also came to the meeting