My name is Susan. I am a woman, daughter, sister and friend. The role that changed my life the most was as the mother of an addict.
I lived in denial at first. Hiding what was going on and not talking about it to anyone - least of all the people closest to me. Then I lived in fear. Would my son die? Would he steal from me, from someone else, end up in jail, a car accident? I slept with my pocketbook and anything of value stuffed under my pillow. Truth be told I didn't sleep much at all. I was embarrassed to tell or share my story with anyone.
I grew up handling whatever was thrown my way. I was a problem solver. If I couldn't fix my son then I was a failure. People in my own family judged how I was handling the situation. No one was parenting an addict. Some weren't parenting at all, but they knew exactly what to do.
I spent hours on the internet researching treatment options. I felt very alone. I gave my son ultimatums. He had to go to outpatient treatment. Follow the rules, etc. He would for a short time and go right back to using.
I felt helpless. He was over 18 and without his consent, we couldn't force him into treatment. I wasn't strong enough to kick him out on the street. It ripped my heart out to even consider it. His father, counselor, and I confronted him and convinced him it was inpatient or the streets. Thankfully he went. But insurance would only allow him to stay for 21 days. You can't do much with 21 days. He got out and was getting high the same day.
Insurance companies put up boundaries between the addicted and the help they need. The laws we have get in the way of treatment. We lock our kids up instead of getting them help. It's a broken system. I started therapy with a social worker because I literally thought I was going to lose my mind. She quickly introduced me to the world of family fellowship meetings.
The very first meeting I went to I just cried because the people sharing were all living the life I was. I wasn't alone anymore. All of this saved my life. I joined a support group called The Addict's Mom. It was heartbreaking and comforting at the same time. There was death and hope all in one place. Sometimes it was just too much to take in.
During this journey of my own recovery, I realized I was a co-dependent. Putting everyone's needs before my own. It has been extremely hard to detach from my son and have him learn to fight for his own recovery, but I learned if I continued to fight his battles, he would never know the satisfaction of success. My own treatment helped me have the courage to send my son to Florida after an overdose. It gave me the strength to tell him he couldn't come home until he had at least six months clean. I am very proud of having the strength to do that. It was not easy for me.
I am still in therapy and still go to meetings. Now I am very open to sharing my story. I want to help anyone who is living with or dealing with addiction. I want to share without feeling ashamed. This is a disease. The stigma needs to be lifted. I talk much more openly about my son's addiction now in the hopes that someone who is suffering in silence will contact me and get some relief from the burden they are carrying. The more we talk, the more we share, the sooner we will make a difference.