As an expectant mom, I ate healthily, did not drink coffee or alcohol, and I delivered my babies without any drugs, “Lamaze Natural Child Birth,” and that with 8-9 pound babies with big, round heads. I breastfed and even made baby food. I wanted my children to have a jumpstart on a healthy life. My husband and I encouraged healthy eating, exercise, being good students, and attending church. We were extremely involved in their lives.
My husband did a number of things with them: coached them in sports, Boy Scouts, fishing, camping, and taught them to be honest and loyal. He also taught them that hard work would result in success and satisfaction. So upon discovering that two of our three sons were dealing with addiction to opiates/opioids (Oxy, Methadone, Morphine) and benzos (Xanax & Klonopin), we frequently asked ourselves,
“What did we do wrong? What else could we have done to prevent this?”
Professionals, friends, and family reassured us that it was not what we did or did not do. THIS WAS NOT OUR FAULT! As responsible, supportive parents, this was very difficult to accept. We had no answers. Even after our sons reassured us that it was no fault of our own, but rather the poor choices they made, we felt like we failed as parents.
Life was Difficult
We sent them to detox after the two of them spent a week at our home, with much pain & discomfort on their end, and stress on our end. We did not know what to do! This was very dangerous!! Their detox from the staggering number of benzodiazepines they were ingesting was done without any medication or professional advice. They could not stomach much, they could not sleep, they couldn’t even put words or thoughts together. Out of our love and hope to “fix” their problems and “cure” their drug addiction, we sent them to a drug & alcohol rehab. This is what parents do, right? But their four-month stint in rehab was finished, what is next?
What came after rehab?
They came home to live with us after completing detox and rehab, and we lived on pins and needles. We worried every time they went out. We worried why they were struggling with finding work, both with college degrees. They were known in town for their athleticism, well-liked for their senses of humor and charisma. But their lives were so different now. They were not used to this lifestyle.
So many of their friends we dropping out of their lives, Several friends were struggling with addiction as well (NOTE FROM SSRC: This was 2012 and doctor shopping was over, which in turn meant fewer prescription opioids or painkillers on the streets at higher prices. Heroin addiction was rapidly spreading throughout the country, fueling the opioid epidemic). At one point, we had to hide purses and wallets, as we suspected money was disappearing. We were in denial about the power of opioid addiction and addiction in general, saying to ourselves,
“They wouldn’t steal from us… maybe we misplaced it?”
We were afraid to leave our home for long periods of time, unsure of what would go on in our home. The stress in our lives put a damper on living as we definitely imagined our lives would much easier at this point. The most difficult thing was learning the difference between assisting and enabling! To this day, we still do not know. It is a fine line between the two, and neither the assisting or enabling are defined (more about this here). I know we made plenty of mistakes in this area. Another mother, who lived with this for more than twenty years, said something I will never forget. She said,
“Addicts have mastered the skill of lying, and as parents, we really want to believe them.”
I can honestly say that hindsight makes it easy to criticize our own actions and mistakes. One thing I know, I love them UNCONDITIONALLY. Most parents will continue to fight, love, and support their children. This thing called addiction is tough; we are forced to take it one day at a time. My youngest calls me every day now, knowing how the worry affects me.
Neither of us wants those feelings of shame (for him) and worry (for me) to happen again. Relapses have occurred, but he still calls regardless after he heard how this affected me as a mother. He is now in Florida and no longer lost or alone, 1000+ miles away, as we remain cold most of the year in New Jersey. His older brother, unfortunately, passed away two and half years ago.
We Appreciate Serenity Springs
Our son went to Serenity Springs Recovery Center in Edgewater, FL almost three years ago.The support of their staff, alumni, and even their owners/managers have helped him stay on track. It is remarkable to hear this after witnessing other treatment centers would send him right back into life without any type of structure to ease back in. Relapses occurred on both drugs and alcohol, getting worse each time. He even added a few new additions to his rough journey of recovering from his “pill problem.” At one point, he was convinced that his problem was strictly Oxy and Xanax. Everything else was fair game. That went on for a while, each time ending with state-run rehab, arrests and/or jail time. We believe he has finally stopped the bleeding and struggling to find happiness and fulfillment. Again I have to extend a big thank you from our family to Serenity Springs in Florida. That phrase that I was unsure of is making sense now!
NEVER GIVE UP HOPE
We did not and will not give up on the daily struggle that addiction continues to be. We have taken our lumps in stride as a family. Our family is now stronger and our son’s second family has become larger in New Smyrna Beach, FL. One thing remains the same though: while our lives keep moving, we continue to live ONE DAY AT A TIME!
Written By: Louise (mother of a Serenity Springs Alumni)