It started with the day my son came hobbling up the stairs looking like he had been struck by a lightning bolt! He was running a fever of almost 105 degrees Fahrenheit and clearly something was wrong. I was in the motions of taking him to the emergency room as he laid in misery of the window of my car. When we get there he said, “I can handle it from here mom.”
So, I waited in the waiting room thinking that he will ask for me to be called back to sit with him and him let me know what is going on. I want to know why he’s so sick and how I can help as his mother. But, instead the nurse comes out and she tells me that my son wants me to go home because there is no reason to sit around and wait. The nurse said my son would call me when he needs a ride home.
I go home and I’m waiting, and waiting, and worrying, wondering why I haven’t gotten a call yet? Then my son calls the house and my husband answers. I know my husband is talking to my son but I don’t know what is being said. Then I hear my husband say, “You need to tell your mother that yourself.”
I get on the phone—oblivious to what my son is about to say—and never in my wildest dreams could imagine what was about to come out of is mouth.
“Mom I’ve admitted myself to the drug rehab center here at the hospital. Don’t try to come up here, you can’t see me and you can’t call me because it’s not allowed.”
Just to hear these words is something I’ve never truly had to experience when someone tells me I can’t see my own son, “It’s funny how things can change when they turn eighteen.”
There wasn’t much I could say to this, and frankly I didn’t know what to say… it just came out of nowhere. I hung up from the phone and just kind of sat there, numb. His father and I talked mostly about how much we were in disbelief, and we always felt that our son never lied to us, and that he was always honest with us. We never saw the signs of drug addiction, especially his.
If I could give advice to people—parents—it would be don’t always be so trusting even if it’s of your own child. The child doesn’t mean to keep things from you, I honestly believe that, but they just get wrapped up in the “growing up” phase with their peers and somehow before they know it, it’s out of control. Us as parents haven’t had our eyes opened yet.
After the shock wore off a little, I get into a mode where I had to be a detective and figure out why? How this happened? Where are the signs?
I run down to my son’s bedroom and I start ripping it apart looking for signs. I had never had any reason to invade his privacy before, but now that I was in the room the signs of addictions where everywhere. Of course the most obvious of signs—that crushed me when I saw it—where the needles hidden in his tennis shoes under the bed.
I saw blood splatter on the walls and ceiling. There was also this green stuff that looked like oregano on his desk in a baggy and white-tannish powder on his dresser. There were cotton balls and bent/burnt spoons on his bed with a truncate hidden under the pillow with the needles in the shoes.
I made it as far back as the bottom of the stairs—as his bedroom was located in the basement… big mistake—before I collapsed calling my husband frantically, and weeping. My husband holds me while I sob. Not even stopping to consider what he was feeling because I was in so much pain myself, I guess he was just trying to be strong for me at the moment. But, later in the week I could hear him upstairs in the bedroom sobbing like a baby, our other son heard him, too. I don’t think my youngest son had ever heard his dad cry like that, he was really scared.
It was the longest week of my life and it’s funny how once your eyes are open, the next time you see that person they really do look different to you. You look at them different and now all I see are the signs.
Before I thought it was just an angry teenager “phase” of growing up. But let me tell you right now, “Teenagers don’t act angry when they are sober and they are happy. I’ve seen it on and off again in both of my son’s recoveries because when they where doing stuff they thought they shouldn’t be, and felt guilty they would cover it up by being bullies and using anger to push us away.”
As a parent you don’t want your child mad at you and you always want them happy, so you try to figure out what is wrong and fix it when finally through the help of Al-anon I couldn’t fix it anymore—he had to fix it.
I wish I would have had my eyes opened some other way and I could have prevented this from the start, but again, addiction is a funny thing.
I spent a lot of my time in the beginning (when I found of the drug addiction) turning to the Internet and researching heroin and addiction. I tried to figure out whether it was a sickness or a will, and why it happened?
My son was a straight A student and had numerous friends. He was in a band that he enjoyed, and had good hobbies. My son would never stick a needle in his arm, or so I thought.
When I found out I can remember pulling myself off of all of my social media and spending a lot of time sleeping as I was severely depressed and agitated. Then my husband told me to get out of bed, and that is the day that I sought out Al-anon.
I went alone to Al-anon because my husband felt like he didn’t need to air our problems to everyone, but I felt much different. I felt that if I could find the answers I would somehow, someway. The funny part was that it wasn’t so much as finding answers as it is like other things in life but its more like this:
“You find comfort… unfortunately… that you’re not alone. There were many other parents going through this and I had no idea!”
At my first meeting I mostly listened, but when I did say something I found it hard to speak the words heroin or addict. Those words were the hardest words to ever speak. It took me a very long time to say that my son was an addict. I wanted to hide it and forget it. I just wanted him to be better and not have to go through this!
My advice is don’t be afraid to seek help and get the proper support. Although my son didn’t stay as active with tons of people from support groups (now branching out into different “groups”), I truly believe that him going to those meetings for such a long time saved his life.
Now my son finds support in immersing himself into writing, you all may know him, he goes by the nickname Substance For You. This site, this community’s efforts, and the support from it I can finally be able to speak words of addiction and substance abuse openly to my friends and family and not be ashamed.
I was ashamed for a very long time and that is hard to say, because you never want to let your children know that you’re ashamed of them. But I’m proud of him with all of my heart now.
(Written and authored by Substance For You’s Momma) <3