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A Father's Journey

It took a while to get here but I think the time has come to share my experience as the father of a child under the influence of opiates. As you can see already it is tough for me to just say my son is a drug addict. The words are just too painful to get out of my mouth, but it is true. At least it was. Although as of this writing he has been clean for 3 weeks so fingers crossed and hands poised in prayer! I thought this post might serve several purposes. First to help me to actually write these things that it might help me to come to grips with the fact that this is actually happening. Second maybe it will help other parents, and third I hope it will encourage others to post replies.....whether it be from other parents or those of you in various stages of use and recovery to share your thoughts. The hope is we can all learn from each other because as of this posting I can honestly say I knew shit about what was going on and what to do about it.

This post is more about the present rather than the past. How my son and I got to this place is not really up for debate. We are here. The cycle of use and intervention has taken place several times over the past 3 or 4 years. To say that immediately tells you that our plans to fight this were not that great. No matter how much you want success, tweaking the same broken plan can only lead to more heartache, tears, anger, and despair. I am hopeful this current detox will hold because the plan is different and it is something that is based on feelings. Those feelings are what is going on in my son's mind. I know this because I finally asked him.

Being the son of a military parent I was taught that problems are just handled. It does not matter how hard it is or how much you don't like it, just get in there and get it done. That credo served me well in my life, however the same credo does nothing in the realm of recovery. I have made several attempts to monitor my son's behaviors and actions only to find that his addiction creates a person who becomes extremely resourceful and finds ways around these restrictions. My son said it best: "Dad for every limitation you put on me there are just as many ways to get around them." I never took the hint. Each intervention just led to a tightening of the noose around his neck. It had to be my way or nothing. Knowing my son the way I do I should have known that this plan would only turn him away.....and it did.....many times. I think it was my feeling that I just had to do SOMETHING, even if it was unproven or wrong. In fact it WAS wrong every time. All I did was enable him, make him feel ashamed, and make him not want to try as has as he could. The urgency was gone. This is all about urgency and the feeling that you have to do something because this just sucks and change is needed. I was caught in a cycle of failure that went something like this:

1. Monitor my son's life and look for signs of trouble

2. Confront him and make him admit the problem

3. Make my son admit the situation was bad and help was needed urgently

4. Find out how bad things are and correct them

5. Impose new sanctions on him to further restrict his life

6. Create the sense that urgency is no longer needed because dad fixed everything

7. Make my son realize that this is the plan going forward which he may not like but HAS to follow it

8. He feels pretty good now that detox is over and he is clean

9. All of the above is combined into a feeling of "Hey now that I feel good I guess I do not need medicine and counseling because I got better without them!

10. Delay seeking medicine and treatment

11. Relapse

After this last intervention a few weeks ago I decided to set an example for my son and I sought treatment for myself. It became clear that my efforts were hurting rather than helping so I bit the bullet and went to see a counselor. I started off by making this intervention about his wants and desires. The best way to do this was to sit back and ask him what HE wanted of me to help him. His response was to just be there for him, so that's what I did. It was really hard to do. Doing nothing when you spent every other time taking charge and controlling the situation is really hard. So I told him seeking treatment and counseling was HIS responsibility not mine, but I was here if he needed me. While this was happening, my therapist was showing me all of the things that I was doing to hurt him. She said users feel ashamed and helpless, and afraid. My rules and laws and restrictions only further deepened these feelings and no matter how hard I try to control things "if he wants to use he is GOING to use....PERIOD." This is not about needing to seek help but him WANTING to seek help, so what better way than to show him that I NEED HELP too. It has been 3 weeks in therapy for me and I have learned so much. I know this is just the beginning and I still have much to learn, but I feel better knowing I have professionals on my side guiding me. My son seems better. Is he getting treatment and counseling? I still do not know. If he wants to tells me that's great. If not then all I can do is hope and pray every day that he is ok. As of now that's enough for me. Sometimes knowing everything about your son's movements and actions and finances is too much information, especially for a father who worries too much. My days were filled with hours and hours of worry and research into bank accounts, phone records, car mileage etc. Now each day I still worry and wonder how he is doing, but after that I go to a place of hope and prayer. He sees the difference and he has told me he appreciates what I am doing. I can only (again) hope and pray that my actions inspire him to face his fears and do what he needs to do to finally face this demon.

PLEASE PLEASE for those reading this I ask you to comment and share your experiences that we all may learn from this and help each other. God bless all.

Rob (Connecticut)

replying to SoTired

Hey rob.. you are right. Your son must want to quit himself. You can not force it on him. Im struggling through a cocaine addiction my self. Im doing my very best to stop. But its just so hard. I hate the stuff. I wish i never even attempted to take it.

There is a good app you could reccommend to him called pocket rehab. Its were addicts and ex addicts talk, and help each other out. Its great, plus there is an emergency button that you press if you feel like using and it puts you through to another addict or ex addict and they talk you round in not to use. It does help alot.

Does your son want to stop then?

replying to SoTired

He does. He always says to me that NOBODY wakes up in the morning and WANTS to use. It is just tough for me because I know leaving him alone and allowing him to sort this out is the right thing to do but the not knowing is really tough. I have to just sit back and hope you the best. The problem for me is that after so many relapses I see the slightest little change as doomsday and I think the worst. I have to break that habit and I am seeing a counselor myself to help me. The thought never comes to me that the change can be legit. Maybe he's not answering his phone because it died or he is busy studying or he is in the shower. I automatically see something bad and it just lingers and festers and the panic sets in. It's a hell of a life but I have to accept it.

replying to SoTired

I know what you are saying my mum is exactly the same with me. I guess all you can do is be there for him and make him aware. There is a lot of help there. I find listening to podcast on recovery stories help me. Plus the is a guy from america. Who has his own podcast called .. the alan charles show.. he talks about his 24 year coke habbit and how he beat it. Theres always hope so dont give up.

replying to SoTired

Well another therapy session last night. We talked about the struggles I have with no longer being in a position of control when it comes to my son. The hard part is when there are even the slightest deviations from the norm. They explode in my mind and I go from zero to 100 miles per hour thinking the worst. It is really hard when you know nothing or get very brief answers to questions. After all this time torturing myself it is hard to just let go. Plus usually the reason for any deviations from the norm are nowhere even close to what I was conjuring up in my mind. He has been dating this really pretty girl. He dated her every week for 8 weeks in a row. The ninth week there was no date and it took me like one minute and I already thought up 12 reasons why there was no date. He relapsed. No money because he blew it all on drugs. She found out he was using and dumped him, etc. etc. etc. I'll get to a place of peace one day I hope. The counseling helps. He has been "on his own" for about 7 weeks now and I realize that in the 7 week period if things were the same and I was in complete control it would not have made any difference. He still would have lived the same life......just would have to do it behind my back, so the worrying and turning stomach I felt would have been for nothing you know what I mean? I have to keep telling myself all is well....until it isn't.

replying to SoTired

Do you know what he is using rob? I think thats all we do as parents, is worry and worry about our children. We as parents just want the best for them and just try and control them so they dont make the same mistakes like we did.

But at the end of the day we cant. They have there own life and own mistakes to learn. My 16 year old hasnt used yet but some of his friends sell drugs on snapchat and facebook! Its crazy now.

So i worry alot as well but i cannot stop what he does when i am not there.

Does he want to go any meetings?

replying to SoTired

I have tried several times to get him to see a counselor. The lady who prescribed the Suboxone for him said SEVERAL times the medication alone is about 15% effective but medicine AND counseling is about 85%

He has seen a few of them from time to time but I doubt he ever really got into the issues. He just went because I forced him to go.

This time I stopped what I was doing, which was enabling him and taking the urgency away. I would solve all the problems. Retrieve everything from the pawn shops, pay all the delinquent bills etc. When I did that the urgency was gone!!!

So this time I said you are on your own. If you want to pawn everything you own go ahead. If you want it back then save your money and go get it back!

I think the limits now set are working because he knows it's all up to him now. I am still not sure he is seeing anyone but I know he told me he is now signed up for the rehab app. I also fill him in on some of my counseling topics and he is very appreciative of me taking the time and effort to educate myself.

It's all so hard.

replying to SoTired

There is also a pod cast. Called .. the addiction podcast.. point of no return...

And its american and they are associated with a rehab called.. narcanon i think. And there are so many ex addicts talking about how this rehab is great and works.

They do it different to other rehabs. They have a method of saunas which sweats out all the toxins. Give u vitamins and councilling. Have a look into that..hope your ok. Try not to worry to much as it will make you ill

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