What have we learned as we were nearing the start of our sons’ return to sobriety? It was a year ago that we, including our son, decided that his addiction to heroin was so serious that we needed to seek all professional means to save his young life. He was most certainly heading toward jail time or death itself. Without help, addiction can only result in tragedy in one form or another, not for just the addict but for those around them as well. Today the media is striving to tell the public just how bad this disease has spread and how much sickness and death have occurred. The number of fallen addicts continues to grow, it seems little headway is being accomplished. We can only hope and pray by some miracle all this unnecessary sickness and death be lessened. I do not have the answer only suggestions. I can only speak to my one failure and one success. A fifty percent success is nothing to boast about but a hundred percent failure takes away any hope. Combined the two sons with user disorders have introduced me to years of conversations, meetings and reading endless articles concerning addiction. It has also made me realize how much damage one can do to their selves. The damage may be as bad or worse those trying to help.
What have I myself learned over this past year has been the subject of the journal I kept. At the same time all three of us have and are still giving our all to reclaiming our lives once again. Our son is doing well. He has beaten the odds already for the first time through without relapse. His mom has managed to find that her life has not ceased and that there is still happiness and support all around her. Myself, I’ve no doubt learned more than any of us the importance of understanding addiction as a disease rather that a weakness on the part of the addict to cope. Sadly, this is my own addiction to anger and hate for my older son who fell and resulted in my fifty percent failure. Could I have brought my success rate to one hundred percent by knowing what I know now? I don’t think so. It has taken all three of us to get through this year successfully. There were mistakes, ups and downs, doubts, mistrust, anger and reason to think failing was inevitable. This journey is never easy for those forced to make it.
There were so many times over this past year where each of us has had occasion to feel lost. We were honest with each other and expressed our true feelings. We talked out whatever the issue until we somehow felt a little better about the matter. It was the total of these conversations of honesty and new found understating that kept up hope. Of course, our son was the basis for our success as well as his own. His ability to work through many stumbling blocks as well as his new-found tools gained from all those surrounding him at the rehab center and sober living facility were the key to our ability to follow along with him successfully. At the same time his mom and I did not wonder around in darkness as I did with my other son but rather chose to find help for ourselves by joining the local NAR-ANON group and reaching out in any way possible to learn everything we could towards understanding this dreaded disease. We listened to story after story of those going through the same struggle. We listened and learned from the mistakes and success.
Please don’t let me mislead you to think this is a simple formula or guarantee to success. Because the heroin and drug epidemic has expanded so rapidly, there are many more failures than success stories. There is much more sorrow than happiness. I myself did manage to spend time with the addicts as well as those around them. Listening to both sides taught me that the addict made a mistake for whatever reason but from that point on, the disease made the decisions to steal, lie and do whatever to necessary to continue. Our son has told me several times that he was never happy when he took drugs. It was more of stepping out from reality for a short time and escape from whatever unhappiness might be hidden deep inside. Each heroin trip eliminated that unhappiness but replaced it with a need for more time away from depression. How he managed to feed this need was by whatever means necessary. Every addict that I have met and spoken with has a horrible story to relate and all have remorse.Unfortunately, as parents, family and friends, we see only the bad involved.
The addict, especially those recovering knows full well what they’ve done. For me it was a grave fault not to understand addiction and that the son who succumbed to the disease was sorry but had gotten to the point where his mind would not accept help. For that he he became a fatality. I have said several times in my journal that I have nightmares seeing him on knees beside his bed, hands clutched and empty bottles of drugs and alcohol beside him. I only saw the bad. I never saw his suffering and most of all I failed to tell him I loved him, even from a distance. This will not happen with this son and if I have one point to make to those involved with addicts, please reach out and educate yourself and understand what addiction involves. It may save the addict but more than that it will save you a lifetime of heartache when you come to realize how addiction affects those we love.