Note: The following is a story in someone’s own words– BH– whose son dealt with addiction. The writer wishes to remain anonymous but over the next few weeks, several of her stories will be shared highlighting her personal journey.
I had several different dreams for my son as he entered college, both before he left and during the time he was enrolled. He was going five hours away to a very large university, and while being anxious (like any parent would be) I was also very excited for him.
A Typical College “Newbie”
However, his first semester didn’t go as planned. He earned below a 2.0 average while failing a few classes, and I thought, ‘Well, I did the same thing as a new freshman. College life is overwhelming, and he deserves a second chance’. Subsequent semesters passed, and he really just didn’t live up to his potential as the intelligent and hard-working son I knew I had raised. He was also constantly asking for more money, and I could see my finances draining. I found myself just shaking my head at times and thinking that he was a typical young adult who was just getting his life together and learning from his mistakes.
Giving Up and Coming Home
On a Wednesday evening in late October, he appeared at the front door. He drove the five hours to come home on a weeknight, and he looked shockingly different. He had lost a lot of weight and looked extremely unkempt. Wondering why on earth he would drive home in the middle of the week when he clearly had classes to attend, I dismissed anything other than the notion that he just was homesick and needed some time away from the stress of college life.
That night, he confessed to me that he had a serious problem. He told me that he had been experimenting with several different hard drugs, along with drinking extensive amounts of alcohol. He also told me that he was addicted to a drug of choice: cocaine.
A Roller-Coaster of Emotions
I immediately felt the walls closing in on me. My heart raced and I began to feel faint as I tried my very best to remain calm during the conversation. I was in utter shock and confusion during the talk he knew he needed to have with me, his mom. While being very hard to come home and tell me what he had been involved with, he was also showing signs of serious depression and suicidal thoughts. He just was not the child or teen that I raised. He was a completely different person.
We, as a family, which is my husband, his biological father, and me, immediately decided he needed to be entered into a behavioral health facility to address the issues of depression and suicide. He wanted to go. But the thing is, as someone who absolutely had no idea the complexities of drug addiction, I thought that a few weeks in this type of facility would actually help, and maybe even “cure” him. Little did I know.
Even More Decisions
Upon exiting the behavioral health facility, his biological father decided he needed to live with him, which was an hour-and-a-half away from my husband and me. Within a few weeks, he was caught trying to do whatever he could do to get high. His father found alcohol, over-the-counter sleep medications in his room, and caught him late at night snooping through the medicine cabinet.
He, along with his wife, immediately wanted to kick him out of the household. My son became suicidal once again, and the cycle began once more. He was, again, admitted into the local hospital’s behavioral health facility for one week. After that, he was transferred to a local drug-rehabilitation facility where he would live for thirty-five days.
Learning by Experience
I was discovering that this was only the beginning of the life of recovery with my drug-addicted son. I just then began to realize that drug addiction and recovery was a long and enduring process that could not be cured within a month or two. I was also discovering that my dreams for my young-adult son were not valid, and that I really had no business creating lifelong goals for someone else, even if they were geared toward the one I loved so much. This would also lead into learning about the concept of codependency and how it affects the relationship between a parent’s child and the parent’s own well-being. Actually, looking back, I cannot believe how much I didn’t understand about anything in terms of addiction and recovery.
It has been one year since my son came home that evening. One year of dealing with more emotions than I have ever had to deal with in my life. One year of attending counseling for myself, drug and alcohol addiction support groups every week, and listening with an open mind to my son. Yes, he is recovering, but it has not been as easy as I thought it would be. Yes, he is getting his life back on track and living at home, once again, within the family unit. When, for a while, we were taking one day at a time, we are now taking one week at a time and life is getting back to normal.
The future does look very positive for our family, but it has been a process that everyone in the family has had to go through.
I have learned that drug addiction is a disease, and there are many steps involved to beating it. I have learned more within the past year than I have probably learned in my life in terms of mental health, self-worth, emotional stability, depression, anxiety, and love. With everything that I have chosen to become educated on, I now know that the hard work and time it took was very much worth it, and that with real faith, love, and hope, anything is possible.