For The Families

young child holding flowers

“This was written by someone I met a few weeks back who prefers to remain anonymous..” ~Patricia

I’m sending you this letter because I’ve read some of the articles in The Sober World and I think your magazine does a great service to the community. I recently read the article “Loving A Child with Addiction” and it stirred up a lot of feelings for me. I don’t know if
you remember me, but we met a few weeks back, paying a Shiva call for someone that lost their son.

I have three children. Two are addicts. All three had the same childhood growing up and the same parents (i.e. the same genes). My youngest daughter started using heroin around 15 years old. We lived in New York at the time. I used tough love with her, sent her into treatment in her early 20’s, and she has been clean for the past 26 years- in spite of not going to meetings for the last 15 years. She is a single mom and works hard. She owns her own home and both her girls graduated from college and are doing well. I have another daughter who has never given me a moments grief in her whole life and is happily married.

My son was my best friend, who I positively adored. He was in treatment numerous times, would accumulate some clean time and then relapse. He was helpful whenever I needed him, could fix anything that was broken and was a wiz with the computer. He helped me decorate my house including the landscaping when we moved to Delray from up north. He  was a gentleman and very respectful. He never lived with us and always had his own place. He went to meetings intermittently. I’ve gone through all the drama that comes with loving an addict. We gave him rides when he was without a car or license, helped him with rent money and other loans when he needed it. He made attempts to pay us back from time to time, but usually somewhere along the way he would relapse and the whole cycle would start over again. He would lose his job and as a result, get evicted. This was a recurring situation about every year. We’ve been through overdoses, jail time, job losses, one heart attack (that we know of) resulting in two stents. We always welcomed him and his friends into our home. A few years ago, a roommate of his died of an overdose. He was so shook up, that for a few months it scared him straight, then he started to feel better and you know the rest. He was very handsome, smart, likeable and always got good jobs. I had to detach from him because I was making too many visits to the ER due to stress related symptoms. My health was deteriorating and I developed PTSD. I would check my cell phone every minute to see if he texted me in case he “needed” me for something. Every time the phone rang I would wonder if this was the dreaded call. I didn’t sleep many nights and woke up scared every morning. I didn’t want  to go on vacation because I was afraid he would need me for something. I became totally addicted to my son. My husband and I took verbal abuse from him at times, in spite of the fact that we were the only two people helping him. He lost his license more than once and had several cars and motor cycles that were either repossessed or wrecked. He was diagnosed as Bi-Polar and was prescribed medication for it. We were never sure if he was taking it regularly or if it was helping him.

I read what the doctors, the therapists, the CACs, the addicts and alcoholics and all the “professionals” write. It’s a crap shoot as to who stays sober and who doesn’t. Families are paying for lavish treatment centers, halfway and sober houses, and their kids keep on relapsing. Why do some people get it and some don’t?

Every time my son would call or text me with a request for money, a ride or a favor of some kind (while I was enjoying my life) I would panic, drop everything and run to help him because I thought I was helping to keep him alive. One therapist told me I could  rescue him all I wanted, but I could never save him, only he could save himself. So, I stopped rescuing him and my life got a little better. I was still sad and missed him a lot, but my general health got better.

Something else I learned from a therapist was, that behind every addict and alcoholic, is a lonely heart. To me, this means connection is the antidote for addiction.

Some people in the 12 step meetings are getting too many pills from their doctors. They  think they’re clean, but they’re not. I’m not saying people shouldn’t take medication that is  prescribed for depression, anxiety and other diseases, but, people are taking pills “as  needed” over the counter and for every little ailment and problem. This teaches them that a pill will solve the problem, take away the feeling … escape from the feeling.

My son was a resident in a “Sober House” for many months. While he was there, he died  from an overdose of fentanyl mixed with cocaine. The detective on the case who came to my home in Delray to advise me of my son’s passing said my son had been dead for about 4 or 5 days. What kind of sober house can this be that no one there knew he was dead? His alarm clock kept going off every day and they said that’s what alarmed them. What about the smell of a dead body? I don’t believe the residents were drug tested, or anything else that would normally take place in a “Sober House”. There were several bedrooms with each person having their own bathroom with a lock on the bedroom door. There was a community kitchen and a community living room. His landlord actually was the one who identified his body. Someone in the sober house had to call the landlord to come and unlock David’s door to get into his room. I wanted to see my son’s room and get his possessions, but the landlord said it wasn’t nice for me to see. He did bring my son’s computer, his clothes and some other personal belongings to my home. My son had an expensive bike and always had a backpack, but the landlord said he was behind in the rent so he kept those things in lieu of the rent he owed. REALLY?? I would have liked to have my son’s bike to give to his son. No toiletries were given to me and there was no cash in his wallet, nor did I get his medication back. I believe he also had a valid driver’s license at the time which I also did not find in his wallet. The landlord, a retired NYC policeman seemed to like my son and I was grateful he brought the number of things to my house that he did. When his phone was returned to me by the police, I got contacts from his phone of his job and some “friends” but no one wanted to talk to me.

I have written this article so I could express how I feel and to hopefully help other families who are dealing with their addicted loved one. You must check out the sober living facility where your child is living. Some of these sober houses are money making businesses taking advantage of the suffering addict and people with emotional disorders. I have left a lot of information out of this memo to protect people’s anonymity. Why would it take someone 4-5 days to find my son? This is more like a boarding house than a sober living. Where is the oversite? There are many questions you need to ask, and make sure you  check the place out yourself as well. Aftercare is the most important part of an addict’s recovery.