Guest blogger Jane is sharing her experience with us in “Jane’s Journal.” We embrace her insights and offer support to her and to all parents of beloved, chemically-dependent children.
In the age of the internet, almost anything you want to learn about addiction is out there. I found the experts’ phone numbers, email addresses and articles to teach me what I’d never known about opiate addiction. And I dug in.
The first person I speak with is a man with 30 years’ experience as an NA counselor. He is factual, brusque, and makes what I believe are condescending comments about my son and our relationship. He asks if my son was a loner, if he felt socially inept, if he had trouble making friends. No, no, no I say. He was a leader of his high school class, elected by teachers to a role of student responsibility over those younger, and was by any measure a well-adjusted person. Sure, he’d had his share of love disasters, and a best friend who betrayed him in middle school, but was he maladjusted? No. He said, “Mom, you know you can’t love away his disease,” and I remember thinking, do you think I’m an idiot? Of course I know I can’t love it away.
I ask him about the Vivatrol shot… isn’t it the way to go? Why wouldn’t anything that makes the transition to a drug-free life be good? Especially one that deadens the opiate receptors and makes getting high almost impossible? He says he’s not a fan of anything other than doing the hard work of recovery, and he suggests that rehab is where we should put our son. But our son has asked to recover with us at home, in rural New Jersey. So I thank this man with 30 years’ experience, and say to myself: We are going to throw everything at this and see what works. We can always get him to rehab later if nothing else works.
We are lucky that my husband owns his own business, so we come up with a plan that involves our son working a daily shift at one of his offices so he can restart a normal life with few real tasks but a definite daily schedule. He’s a nocturnal animal who can’t sleep at night but seems impossible to wake in the morning. While he’s withdrawing physically from the drugs, I buy him an electric blanket for his chills, prepare the healthiest meals I can concoct, and pump him up with every vitamin and mineral I can find to restore his depleted body. I find out the best herbs and supplements to cleanse and rebuild his body while we also find a local psychiatrist with great credentials.
I take our son to his first NA meeting and cry silent tears as we hear story after story of both success and failure, of lives restored and ruined, of pain and suffering previously unknown to me. I know my son will not share during this first meeting, and I don’t expect him to. But I am confident that this is the best place for him to learn about honesty and reality as it applies to addiction. Afterwards he agrees and we are both convinced this is an integral part of his future. I feel hope when he says that he is glad to go to NA meetings every day, that they really help. He goes to nightly meetings, and on weekends sometimes the day meetings as well. He gets a sponsor. We track his movements with a phone app. Every night when he returns from a meeting, he tells us stories, says he’s committed, and we congratulate him on One More Day Clean. He’s collecting the NA tokens. Things are looking up.
I take him to his first psychiatrist appointment and wait outside while they talk for an hour, then I go in. We talk about his willingness to become sober, the requirements for the monthly shot, which are that he goes to his weekly session and he stays clean until the shot arrives, and I ask the doctor if there’s any problem with the drugs he’s prescribing interacting with the vitamins and supplements I’ve been giving him. I sense condescension again as he says: “You can give him any vitamins you want, Mom, but they’ll only make YOU feel better.”
PS: I find out later that some of these supplements, like GABA and 5HTP, should never be taken with the drugs my son was prescribed. But it really doesn’t matter, because unbeknownst to me, our son is not taking any of his medications save the one for sleep. Why? Because he’s still using. But that’s another chapter. For now we are dealing with the fact that our Opiate Addict Son is a Consummate Liar.