Upping the Ante

For quite some time I have been a firm proponent of drawing firm lines in the concrete with our addicts.  That enabling is one of the most deadly of behaviors as parents we can hold onto.  It takes time to move from doing all we can to try to fix our loved one to even understanding what enabling is.  Never mind what real help might look like.  This is truly a process and when we think we have that line firmly placed and the destination is secured we realize there is no real destination, just a long, sometime laborious journey.

Over the last 2 plus years of my journey with my addicted son I have vowed to him that he could always count on me for two things; a ride to a Detox/Rehab/Program, and a meal.  Those two things were sure.  And count on me he has.  In the past year he has been in and out of nearly 50 (+/-) Detoxes/Rehabs/Programs. And there have been just as many times I have feed him or brought him a bag of groceries.  My word is my word and he knows that.

Two weeks ago I posted that he had entered a 15 month program and that I was thrilled he had made it to day 5 .  But what you don’t know is that on the afternoon of day 5, just 2 hours after that post he called to tell me he had left that 15 month program.  When the call came; my heart sunk a bit, I was so very disappointed, as I had hoped that this would be the time.  I had to choose my words carefully, I’m not an addict and I cannot for the life of me understand the mind of one.  He told me he was coming home because…. And the reason (excuse) doesn’t really matter in my mind any excuse would be a good one to him and a crazy one to me. He told me he was on his way ‘home’.

My response was: I hope by home you don’t mean our house, because you’re not coming there.  He seemed baffled that I told him this.  He has been told countless times that he isn’t living in our home.  I’m sure his thought process went a bit like this…

If I call and tell them I’m leaving the program, they will just try to talk me into staying.  If I wait and call while part way back they’ll at least come to the bus station to get me, and will feel badly for me and maybe even let me stay at the house.  (His excuse for leaving might make some mom’s heart strings tug, but my heart strings have been played out, no tug left).

5 days later the call came; will you take me to the hospital?  Along with that came the request to shower and have a real meal.   This would be where I would have to Up the Ante.  They cycle of in and out of Programs was becoming a pretty “viscous” cycle that was going nowhere.  It was reminding me of gerbil on a wheel, always spinning, stepping off occasionally for food, water and to relieve themselves.  But always going right back to the spinning.  I was starting to feel like a second gerbil on the wheel, that when my son stepped off, I would always be there to keep the wheel slowly moving so he could hop right back on.

This Momma gerbil will NOT get back on the wheel with or for him.  I can no longer participate in the viscous cycle of in and out of programs.  On the ride back to my home where he would indeed have a meal, a shower and a ride to the hospital he was told…

“I am upping the Ante; if you walk out of another program you cannot count on me for a ride, or a meal.  You will be on your own to find them; it will be a three month wait for help from me”.  

This is a drastic line I am drawing and a few well-seasoned parents of addicts have commented as so.  But as drastic as it may sound it is my hope that before my son leaves the program he is in right now he will think long and hard about the consequences. 

No News is Good News

Or in other words… absence of information to the contrary justifies continued optimism.

However you decided to word it; I have yet to hear anything from my son who now resides in a 15 month voluntary Drug Rehab program.  He left Monday afternoon on a Greyhound Bus out of Boston headed for Vermont.  The first 30 days of the program require no communication with family and friends.  For the record he tried this program back in April of last year, not the one in Vermont but one here in MA, under the same umbrella organization.  On day 4 he called me and said he was leaving the program.

Today is day 5… I have yet to hear any news.

Just like before he seemed to be out of options.  He has cycled in and out of Detoxes, Rehabs, sober living, friend’s sofas, and home.  As of late nothing was sticking, he has yet to retain more than 5 months of sober time.  Just last week he learned that his insurance had been Red Flagged, there wasn’t a local Rehab that would be taking him anytime soon.  And staying at home indefinitely wasn’t an option.

We had a rather serious conversation last Thursday and I brought up the 15 month program, he didn’t shrug it completely off, I saw a ray of hope that he just might commit to it.  Armed with the testimony of someone who completed the program in Vermont, in the heart of snow-boarding country (yes I threw that in there) his interest took flight.  Calls were made; a placement was secured as was a bus ticket.

I made a call to the program on Tuesday morning to be sure he made it all the way there, I was assured he did and that they would take good care of him.  So as day 5 begins, (whew) I am thankful that today is a good day, and will continue to be thankful for everyday that…

No News is Good News.

If Only I’d Known…

I had the occasion to sit with a parent last night who made that above statement ~ “If only I’d known I’d be battling addiction with my child, I could have parented differently.”  That statement has stuck with me and I have turned it over and over in my head trying to find some validity to it as it applies to being the parent of an addict.

I know this woman well and she is a biological parent as well as parenting children by adopting them, Young Children that are adopted can come with a difficult history, as did the youngsters she has, and this has caused her to intentionally parent them in such a way as to help guide them past the set of baggage these sweet ones came with.  So on that level I can understand her statement of “If only I’d known”.

But that brings me to wrestling with it on another level.  Can I apply that logic to being the parent of an addict?   There are many out there that blame the parent for the child’s addictions and will offer such statements as

if you had just had dinner with them every night

if you had gotten them more involved in sports

if you had just told them to SAY NO to drugs

And there are many more.

It’s my hope that all parents, parent intentionally.  That we (all parents) do our best to raise up our children to be good adults, instilling values and morals along the way.  I know I’d be foolish if I thought that was 100% truth all the time.  There are parents who haven’t, and they are in the news time and time again.

It’s also my hope that out of all the insanity of this current addiction crisis that is sweeping our country, that parents will start to understand that we are NOT promised perfect kids.  That even the best intentioned parents can end up with a son or daughter who becomes addicted to drugs.   I think we as parents, should parent assuming the WORST can happen.  Being conscience of the times and demons that long to devour our children and act like parents.

So the day doesn’t come when we say… If Only I’d known …

A Valentines Gift from my Addict

Traditionally Valentine’s Day is celebrated with Candy filled hearts, bouquets of Red Roses and candle light dinners.  I find it ironic though that the legend of Valentine’s Day may very well have begun from inside a jail cell…


 “According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today

I am very blessed to have a wonderful man as my husband who never lets this day go by without a sweet expression of his love for me.  This morning a single red rose sat at my place at the breakfast table as a testimony of his love.  As always I treasure him and his love for me.


Yet this Valentines I have an even greater gift, one that cost nothing.  A gift that wasn’t wrapped, nor did it have anything to do with chocolate…


The gift… my son got on a bus yesterday afternoon and headed to Vermont to commit himself to a 15 month program.  It will be 30 days before I will hear from him, I won’t hear from him today, I won’t hear him say “Happy Valentine’s Day mom”.  There will be no card from him… (and for the last few years of his active addiction there hasn’t been either).  But today, he is clean, safe and working toward his Recovery.  That is one of the best gifts I could receive today.


If you’re the loved one of an addict, I pray that you too receive that gift today.


If you’re loved one isn’t walking in Recovery today, if today they are still lost in the world of addiction…


Hold onto Hope.


It will be the best gift you can give yourself.

For Heath ~ and Whitney

While the world mourns the death of Whitney Houston who apparently died a drug related death, a mother by the name of Linda mourns her son Heath who just like Whitney died in his hotel room all alone from drugs on Saturday.

How ironic that both the famous and the non-famous died the same way, the same day.  Whitney’s name is all over the headlines, in the news, memorialized at the Grammy’s.  But Heath’s name appears no-where.  There were no reporters with camera crews who gathered at his hotel room to get the news out that he had passed from this life after battling with addiction for over a decade.  No one interviewed his mother Linda and asked her about his last days or last words.

Heath, just like Whitney (Michael Jackson, and Amy Winehouse of late) each battled a demon that had ensnared their life.  One that is ravaging many in today’s culture.  So many of our children; sister’s, brother’s, husbands, and wives are caught up in addiction.  Just as the world watches and waits for the outcome of the famous; such as Whitney Houston, Lindsay Lohan and Demi Moore, we the parents of addicts wait.  Not with cameras and reporters amassed around our every move, but we wait none the less.

Heath, just two weeks ago, after being estranged from his family for nearly a decade trapped in a world of addiction, sought out his mother in desperation,finally reaching out to her for help.   I don’t know all the details of how the last two weeks of his life went.  I do know Linda reached out to a friend of mine for help, this friend who’s life had never been affected by the ravages of addiction in turn came to me to ask if he could give my name and number to Linda as she was in need of help and support.  I waited for the call, but it never came.  Sunday morning I received an email instead letting me know that Heath’s battle had ended.

For all the Heaths out there, whose names will not appear in the headlines, this blog post is for you.  You were loved dearly; our hopes have always been that you would beat this demon.  That you would somehow find the road marked Recovery and embrace it.  That your life would find New meaning, that living in the day no longer meant hunting out your next fix, but it would mean enjoying once again the life you have been given by an Almighty God who loves you.  That you could be embraced by your family as they encourage and support you on that road marked Recovery.

I pray that the world will sit up and take notice of the Headlines, not just for Whitney’s sake… but for the sake of all the Heaths out there, and for all the sons and daughters like my son, who is still fighting the battle,  that we will take serious what is happening out there and come together to fight and maybe one day find a way to put an end to the demon.




New Tears

There have been times over the last 3 years that I have truly been afraid to cry, fearful that if I started I just might not stop for a while.  My default in the distant past has been to express my fear, sadness, brokenness etc. through anger.  Somehow the later always seemed safer then tears.


In my own Recovery work as the parent of an addict I have had to struggle my way through and allow the tears to come.  Watching my son battle his way through addiction is SAD stuff.  Most of the time I have been able to keep it all out there in “Detach” land, where his addiction is more abstract then familiar.   And there are times when Detaching is what we must do, for our own well-being, the well-being of our household and for our addict.


Tears have their place in the process…


Yesterday my son found himself on the street, insurance running out on day 6 of Detox with no bed to be found elsewhere.  The street was his next step.  Not what he (or I) had hoped for, but it all plays apart in the overall plan.  He called nearly in tears and very upset with what had just transpired.  We wired him enough money to get on the train and head back toward home base.  He stayed on the sofa in our family room for the night.  I don’t think any of us (with exception of the little man who didn’t know his brother was there) slept at all.


I tossed and turned and was kept awake by the sounds of his being awake tossing and turning.  Getting up, pacing.  It was a fretful night…


This morning his plan was to head into the City, to a hospital that helps those who have no other options.  As I got ready to leave for work I wrapped my arms around my son and cried, letting out some of the deep sadness in my heart.  Tears like that just haven’t flowed in a while.  I told him I am praying for him and for his journey, that this would be the day of not only new tears but of a new way of living for him…


Sometimes you just have to cry.



A Mothers Heart

“Waiting for the other Shoe to fall” is an old saying. Its meaning: to wait for the inevitable next step or the final conclusion. That’s where I sit right now, waiting for the other shoe to fall.

My son, has been in recovery now for 30 days and doing well in a Halfway House.

But I wait…

For the phone to ring and hear him tell me;

he’s been kicked out,


he failed his drug test


he just can’t stand it anymore.

I’ve heard all three of these in the past. Each attempt at recovery as of late has ended in failure of one sort or another. And with each of those my hope seems to fade further in the past, out of reach. I’ve become afraid of hope and afraid to hope. It almost seems safer to settle in to the acceptance of his being an addict…

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Are We There Yet?

As a child our family each summer would head out for day trips during my dad’s one week of vacation.  Each day a different location; the beach, the amusement park, the zoo, it didn’t matter where we went the above statement could be heard by the young voices in the back seat…

“Are we there yet?”       

Even now as an adult when my man and I set out for a day trip with our little man in tow, I will always ask; usually right after leaving the driveway (in jest of course)…

“Are we there yet?” 

I can remember 27 months ago (November 2009) when this journey began, finding out that my son needed Detox, like most new parents to this nightmare I thought…

Let me just get them into rehab and this craziness can be over. 

Oh how I wish that had been true.  In 27 months my son has had two 5+ months’ runs of clean time.  I have gotten weary at times… my heart wondering…

“Are we there yet?”

If I am truthful just this week I wondered… will he ever get there.  This has been a very difficult week for me as he has yet again returned to a detox.

I had the opportunity to speak to a new parent to all this craziness, and when they asked:

If I can just get them into a Detox we will be all set right?…

I had to take a moment to collect my thoughts as I wanted to not only help them navigate the deep waters they were about to enter, but to give them Hope.

As I breathed out my response to them, it was also spoken to my own weary heart…

“That can happen; but the norm in all of this is that you are in for a long ride”. 

I made sure I followed that statement up with words of Hope, words I needed to remind myself of.

Yesterday as I struggled still with my own personal weariness in that question, I heard from a friend, another parent in the fight who reminded me to hold onto Hope, to stay clearly in the day, and that day had brought my son back to a Detox… day 1 of being clean.

Are we there yet?… No, I am reminded that Recovery is a Journey with no destination other then today.