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And so it Begins

This is the post excerpt.

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It started with a girl and a boy. They fell in love. Things were good, for a time. For a time until they crossed boundaries they never should’ve crossed and there was no going back. This is the story of my son and his battle with heroin addiction and the day the truth came out. The day I realized that my life would never be the same, and I wondered if my son would ever be the same. It’s my story of hope in the midst of heartache. The day the truth came out, we knew it was now or never, the choice for my son was life or death if he didn’t take the first step to get help. He took that step. What follows will be our journey down the long and winding road toward recovery. For those who’ve traveled there before me, I welcome your words of encouragement because I know it won’t be easy, and I appreciate you walking down this road with us.

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Things Change

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It’s funny how you can see the same thing a thousand times and still not really notice it, until one day, it just stands out and grabs your attention.  I don’t know if animal-shaped soap is still a thing but, upon visiting my parents’ house today, there it sat, displayed proudly in the guest bathroom, the swan-carved soap that has never been used.  This soap has sat in the dish for what seems like my entire life, has had many a grandchild eye it as they wash their tiny hands, yet even they in their innocence know there’s something about it that’s off limits, that once it’s used it will melt away, never to be seen again.  (I wanted to capture a pic of it in case my grandchild is the one who just cant resist).

I’ve rested my tired hands upon my keyboard many a night over the past couple of weeks, eager to write about the events unfolding around me–the good, the bad, the uncertainty that looms all around me — but, unfortunately, exhaustion takes over and I fall asleep before the words come.  Tonight, for a brief moment, I’m feeling a spurt of energy, so I’m going to give it a try.

My grandchild is a beautiful 1-year-old baby boy, full of life, who still wonders at the world around him, oblivious to the ugliness that has overtaken his parents.  I thank God for his innocence and the gift of his laughter.  I love being a grandmother.  It’s one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever known, but six months ago everything changed.  Six months ago, all the signs and symptoms (son quit his job, dropped out of college, was evicted from his apartment, had his car repoed, alienated himself from his family and close friends — to name just a few) that had been causing me and my family members to raise an eyebrow came to light, all the numbers began to add up and the truth was exposed — my son and his girlfriend got on the radar of CPS, both tested positive for opiates, and I went from being a grandma to being the full-time, voluntary caregiver for my grandson; thus, my exhaustion (albeit joy-laced exhaustion).  You see, my nest had long since been empty, and overnight I went from an empty nester to an acting single mom of a then 8-month-old infant, but even worse, from that night on I was now the mom of a heroin addict.

Things change, circumstances change, life changes, but my love for my son will never change.  Tonight, I found comfort in that old familiar swan-shaped soap, of all things!  It reminds me of years gone by, happier times.  Soap–it washes all the dirt away and makes us clean.  I pray for cleaner days ahead for my son…

Brainstorming

Sometimes it’s easier for me to jump ahead in order to gather my thoughts prior to going back.  Thus, I felt it appropriate to brainstorm aloud, everything I never wanted to know, yet now must, about heroin and heroin addiction.  I will go strictly by my scattered memory of all I’ve read and researched over the past few weeks since my son entered rehab.  I’ll say the terms, thoughts, feelings, statistics as best I can recall them in order to find a starting point for what will surely be a journey into the unknown.  Here goes.  There are alarming statistics concerning heroin addiction.  It’s currently an epidemic in the United States with approximately  591,000 people addicted to heroin in 2015.  Many people become addicted after being prescribed pain medication by a doctor.  Once addicted to pain medication and the prescription runs out, thus enters heroin – the “cheaper alternative.”  Cheaper, but FAR MORE COSTLY!  Upper middle class people are now the ones becoming addicted.  People from “normal” families.  “Successful” people.  Unlikely people.  People from loving families.  People with a “good head on their shoulders:”  my son.  You can snort heroin, you can smoke it, you can inject it.  Once you try it you can instantly become addicted because it increases the dopamine levels in your brain, that which causes the sensation of pleasure, by something like 2000 percent.  Coming down from that sensation leaves you unable to experience pleasure the same anymore.  You want more and more and more and will do anything to get your next fix.  You lie.  You cheat.  You steal.  You live for it and are willing to die for it.  You turn your back on your friends and family.  You neglect your children.  You walk away from your children.  Hygiene is a thing of the past.  You choose the drug over food.  You live under the shadow of guilt, deceit and denial.  Deaths caused by drug overdose have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.  Wow! Codependent couples are very difficult to convince to get treatment as they must be willing to let go of each other.  IV heroin abusers inject multiple sites on their body: arms, legs, hands, neck, between their toes!  I’m sure there are others but these are the few I’ve learned of.  Admitting you’re powerless over the drug and your life has become unmanageable is the Al-Anon first step to recovery.  An addict will always be an addict, although they may no longer be addicted.  Heroin addiction affects many, many people in addition to the addict – family, friends, employers, acquaintances, businesses.  Heroin is the worst drug imaginable – turning people into shells of who they once were and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.  Before you enter into a rehab program you must first detox, which should be done and is more safely done in a rehab center under medical supervision and can take 7-10 days.  You can be prescribed either methadone or suboxone to lessen the withdrawal symptoms.  Withdrawal symptoms can be horrendous:  Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, extreme fatigue, restlessness, agitation, and others — sounds like a living hell.  The incidence of relapse back onto heroin is high.  This is not an extensive list of what I’ve learned so far, and I’m sure my facts are not 100 percent accurate, but as close to accurate as I can recall.  Simply writing about it has made me exhausted.  Tomorrow’s a new day and will be the story of how rehab came to be.  Until then, I’ll continue to pray for my son, whom I love with all my heart.  I truly believe we can never underestimate the power of prayer, and that God can deliver my son from this addiction.