We asked Maggie if she would be willing to share
her powerful story of hope for parents of an addict with us.
Of course you may! When I got past the anger phase of this, I made a deal with myself and determined there is a mission of letting other parents of an addict know there is a way to get out of the drug addict spiral in the family. I saw it like a drain, just sucking all of us down with the addict. So when this page popped up in the Weekly, I checked it out and saw other people trying to get back to life again.
Thanks for contacting me!
My story of story of hope for parents of an addict
Moving to the foothills was a smart move at the time, thinking I would keep my kids out of the gang, drug loop that was on the other sides of town. Little did I realize that one of my kids would become a heroin user for 6 plus years. What always amused me was the name itself–there is no hero in heroin.
My home was a coming and going of my sons other addict buds when I was at work. If I came home and found the kids at my home I would make a calm phone call to the other parents to let them know what was happening and they needed to be aware of the problem. The names I was called for letting these parents know was absolutely horrific. The realization that they were scared kept nagging at me. The defense mechanisms were in high mode. What parent wants to really hear that their kid is using a drug so debilitating?
The reality is I walked around like a zombie for about 2 years trying to find a way out of the nightmare my family was in. I had an ex that was the classic addict mentality and enabler undoing anything I did to try and get our kid to reach out for the help. We buried 6 of his friends up here from OD’s. Often the ones that died were fresh out of very expensive rehabs. The point I am making is this–it is love and love alone that will help you and your family thru this nightmare. Tough love mostly. The realization that this person you gave birth to is an addict, making very adult decisions about their life and that they are capable of doing anything and everything under the sun to feed that habit. My home was burglarized; jewelry gone, car gone, anything worth anything-Gone.
Keeping out of my life and giving him over to god to deal with was my only salvation. I realized that personal survival was the order of my day. He had made a decision to no longer survive.One of our conversations was I would give him my gun with hollow points in it and drive him somewhere to end his life. I would have rather buried him one time than bury him daily in my head. Nothing I could do , say or give him would matter except I told him I loved him. Then I let him go. I knew I might one day get the call from the coroners office that he was dead. He has had 8 double strapped US Marshalls after him. He spent time in jail both county and state.
He has a felony record which makes it tough to get real work. BUT, he is clean for almost 2 years. I saw him a couple months ago and said he and God were responsible for his life being where it is now. Most importantly, he was honest with me. We spoke openly about our feelings about the nightmare we all went thru. I brought up somethings that possibly brought him to the place he is at now. He understood why I did what I had to do at the time.
My hope is that he will be able to help other people in the grips of addiction. He has counseled some but at this point feels it is also important to stay away from anyone involved with the lifestyle. He is working, playing in a band, has a nice girlfriend, is clean of alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. He eats organic and lives as clean a lifestyle as possible. As parents we need to love our kids enough to not be their friends but to be their parents. They need that more than an I-phone or a car. Parents need to be good to their own selves. An addict will bring wrack and ruin to even the best marriages. I do not feel lucky to have a son that has beaten the addiction route. We were blessed. Faith and prayer were the only way to make it out the other side and the smile on my sons face is proof that it worked.
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> From Hopkins to Homeless: My true story of prescription drug addiction
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> The Haven, Moms and Meth: Breaking the Cycle of Addiction.
> Wife of Alcoholic. An Amazing Story
> Addiction: Powerless to Prevent
Addiction Recovery Resources for Families of Substance Abusers, Addicts and Alcoholics
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FROM : “Maggie M’s story of hope for parents of an addict.” TO CHANGING LIVES FOUNDATION BLOG HOME
parents of an addict parents of an addict
Our son started his first drug use with pot and hallucinogenic drugs as a freshman in high school. We found out and sent him to outpatient rehab. Their assessment was that he needed treatment for drug abuse. A week after getting out of this 6-week treatment program, he was arrested for breaking and entering a neighbor’s house. He did 60 hours community service. He was nearly 17 at this point. Perhaps we then should have pulled him out of school then and sent him away, but we thought he had bottomed out.
Unknown to us, his drug use continued over the next 9 months. His grades were very good and he was meeting his curfews so we thought things were ok. Then events revealed that he had been lying, sneaking out and using, so we sent him to a wilderness program in Utah. He seemed to be coming to terms with his problems in the program. He turned 18 while there and had the choice of moving into the older program or leaving and going to a boarding recovery oriented high school for his senior year. Coming back home was not an option. He chose the boarding school, but upon arrival, arranged for a father of a friend- yes, father-to send him bus fare to return to our community.
Shocked that another parent would undermine our wishes, we met with him at his high school. They refused to allow him to return to the high school because he was 18 and not living with us. Ultimately, the father who sent him the money kicked him out. He turned to some older friends who were freshman at Ohio State University campus. They allowed him to crash in a space under their stairs in the old house they lived in near campus. We gave him no money. We saw him weekly to take him out for a meal, stay in contact and to encourage him to stop living this chaotic, unhealthy life. He was too stubborn to submit to our requirements to quit using and be drug tested in order to come home. We met with him and counselor from his previous treatment programs to no avail.
To make money during this time, he sold drugs and started using opiates in pill form. He learned how to survive on the streets. It gave him a false sense of power.
When he got tired of this life, he decided to meet the conditions we set for him to return home. He agreed to quit drugs, finish high school, get a job, and be drug tested randomly and frequently. When these conditions were met, we let him live at home. Our mutual goals were for him to have a 6-month period of clean time so he could enter college. He tested clean consistently, had a regular job, finished high school and applied to college. We supported his entry into OSU and to live near campus. We hoped his drug days were behind him.
In retrospect with 20/20 hindsight, we should have insisted he attend meetings and get a sponsor. BUT, he still did not think he was addicted. You cannot tell an addict that he is addicted. He must come to this on his own. We felt our boundaries had been very tough and the conditions for coming home and then entering college were solid. Frankly, I do not think either my husband or I could have taken much more of seeing how low he had fallen.
Things started well with him in college in his apartment with a clean friend, but within months, he started back with opiates. Over time, the expense of pills eventually led him to using heroin, which is considerably cheaper. As his grades fell, we grilled him to determine what was going on.
About this time, my husband’s job ended and he had to begin working in Colorado. For two years, he lived near Boulder and commuted home to Columbus, Ohio on weekends while our daughter completed her last two years of high school. I was the bad cop this whole time. I was the detective who had to figure out what was going on with our son.
Before long, I discovered the truth. For months, he had been sneaking into our home in the middle of night, stealing my ATM card, going out to withdraw cash and then sneaking back into the house to return the card. I never looked at a record of our ATM withdrawals. This allowed him to steal thousands of dollars from us over many months.
When I discovered the evidence, I turned it all over to the police. The police laid out the options. Our county is very much in favor of getting first time offender/drug users into treatment and not into the correctional system. They want to use the justice system as leverage to help families get their kids on track. I would not have hesitated to get him into a correctional facility if he refused to go to treatment. After all, this was now his choice.
Chris agreed to treatment in lieu of felony conviction and imprisonment. He went to detox and if you can believe it, left detox and disappeared yet one more time for two weeks. The police found him. He begged to return to treatment.
We sent him away to an inpatient program where he FINALLY submitted! He dove into the recovery and rehab process. He spent two months in primary treatment at a facility in North Carolina for young people his age and stage, in the mountains.
Upon completion of primary treatment, he chose to go to a sober house in Maine where he is living with other young men learning to live sober. He is in therapy, physically active, working out, eating healthy, playing sports, going to meetings, working with a sponsor and going to college. Eventually he will move out but stay close to the sober house so he can participate in their meetings and activities. He will increase his course load to a full load and prepare to move on to a college where he can pursue his major interest.
The money we had saved for college has been used for treatment. This will narrow his options for college, because the money is running out.
Therapy has helped him immensely as well as the meetings, sponsor and step work. These are essential ingredients. We have also received counseling to keep our relationships healthy. Our daughter has been able to reconcile with her brother as well. So far we have a happy ending. He has gained 30 pounds on his 6’4″ frame. He had been emaciated.
As you can tell from our story, our son is lucky that we have had the resources to send him to good programs. BUT – there are good programs in every state. It takes research to find them. Use professionals in your area to get feedback.
Recovery for everyone takes TIME. This is a process and a vicious, evil disease. Keep yourself healthy emotionally, spiritually and physically. Don’t worry about dishing out the tough love. IT IS CRUCIAL to their recovery. Even with very tough love, Chris stubbornly continued his use. He was a rebellious adolescent. This is the worst combination – drugs and adolescence. Rationality is out the window. Time and legal consequences are your best leverage. Caving in and bailing them out only increases the amount of time until they agree to get clean.
Just a little more information about our situation. I worked in a correctional facility leading a bible study for women for three years. I respected the staff and the treatment program in this facility. I would have been glad for my son to be sentenced there, even with the felony charge. Facilities like this are state provided treatment programs. I applaud states and counties who invest in providing these programs.
I became passionate about helping the women at the correctional facility. Their families didn’t have the resources to get them to the programs we could afford. So that I could continue to be of help to these women beyond the bible studies, I got a master’s degree in addiction counseling. I now live in Colorado with my husband and plan to work with women coming out of prison. I want to work in a halfway house to make their transitions successful.
The transition out of rehab is where the rubber meets the road. It is very hard for anyone to change all that they need to change without support. Yesterday I spoke with one of my sons peers at his sober house. I got him on his cell phone. The message he has on his phone says, “I am changing many things about my life and if I don’t call you back, you are one of them!”
I would be happy to talk with anyone out there who could benefit from my experience. Hang tough and know that God loves your family member even more than you do. I believe God protected our son from even worse consequences than he experienced and I am grateful.
POSTED BY: Jherzanek for Joe Herzanek
This is a response to a recent email we received from a mother who was paying all her addicted son’s bills, providing him a place to live, and cooking all his meals.
You can stop wasting your time trying the above. What you can possibly do is let them reach the point where they hate the way they are living and want to get help. At this moment you are probably doing everything wrong. Pleading, begging and giving him a source of income is rescuing him from the consequences of his bad choices and enabling him to continue this destructive lifestyle.
He sounds like he is wallowing in self-pity. If it were my son I would kick him out, fire him and tell him when he decides to get clean and stay clean he will be welcomed back into the family.
Oh by the way—ALCOHOL is the worst and most widely abused DRUG in the world.
Rehab is often very beneficial but the real test is to follow-up with a 12-Step program when they leave.
Sound harsh? Well it is but if you don’t take action you will die (broke) of old age waiting for him to.
Buy my book or if not buy someone else’s on this topic. Step one for the family is to become educated on addiction and recovery.
“Obviously he is miserable…”
Obviously he is not quite miserable enough. Please allow him to get even more miserable.
You are so right in saying that “no one would understand. . . ” But maybe by reading this post and also your comment, people can begin to understand a little of what the parents go through. I applaud you for your courage and perseverance in surviving this ordeal and in addition to that, keeping your family together!
reading the story of maggie m when she said you would rather kill your child instead of feeling the loss of their life everyday really hit home. no one would every understand what that statement means unless you have lived this life of hell.i too realized i cant do anymore for my daughter, she just about killed all of us along with herself. thank god we are keeping our family together especally for my 7 yr old grandson.shes in jail now for the 20th time .