Dear Mrs. R – An Advice Series for Women of All Ages- This Week’s Topic Drug Addiction
I am so excited to bring you another installment of Dear Mrs. R. This week I address a Reader’s question about coping with her daughter’s drug addiction.
In an effort to protect my readers privacy, I will refer to only a First Name and Last Initial when posting to Dear Mrs. R. So, please do not worry about your confidentiality as it will be protected. That’s my promise to you! Also, I will not publish any question without the express permission of my readers.
This week I chose a question from Maria W., Maria asks:
Dear Mrs. R., I write you today with tears in my eyes. My name is Maria and my daughter is a drug addict. She is 25 years old and has been a drug addict for the last 8 years. It all started when she suffered multiple injuries from a car accident. She had 2 broken legs, a dislocated shoulder and a severe concussion along with multiple cuts and bruises. It was such a horrific accident. She was lucky to come out of it alive.
When she was receiving treatment, the doctors gave her quite a bit of pain medication, Oxycodone and Morphine to be exact. Of course, as a mother watching her daughter suffer I didn’t think twice about this. I just wanted my daughter not to have pain. She enter a rehabilitation center for her physical therapy as well as her mental therapy (she was very traumatized). She was doing fantastic and we brought her home to recuperate.
During this time her doctor started weaning her off the pain meds. She wasn’t very happy about it at all and would start arguments to try and convince me and her doctors that she still needed them. To make a very long story short, I began to realize that she has had a problem with pain pills before she was in that accident. In fact, I’m convinced that she was taking them while driving and fell asleep at the wheel.
She went back to school, part time at first, then full time. During this time, I noticed that she was not hanging with her regular group of friends. She started hanging out with people she just met who didn’t attend the same school. She would stay out late at night and sometimes not come home at all, for days. Then she stopped going to school. She would disappear for days at a time.
It wasn’t until I received a call from the police that my daughter had been hospitalized for an overdose that I truly felt that I failed her. I was beside myself, it all felt so surreal, like it wasn’t really happening. It couldn’t be happening to my daughter. Why didn’t I stop her? Why did I just sweep it under the carpet and not acknowledge she had a problem. I feel so guilty because I kept my head in the sand not wanting to admit to myself she had a problem.
As the years passed, we got her into a few rehabilitation programs, all of which she left never receiving treatment. She was living on the streets (her father refused her to come back home), she has suffered 2 more overdoses, she sold her car, stole my credit card and cash we keep on hand at home. She broke into the house several times.
I didn’t see or hear from my daughter for 2 years until the day I found her passed out on our doorstep with a needle sticking out of her arm. She once again overdosed.
Mrs. R, I don’t know what to do. I’m so afraid that the next time she overdoses she will die. She doesn’t want help, she just wants money. My husband and I have since divorced because he couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t handle me.
Today, she is back on the streets and I just received a call from her asking me to bring her some food because she hasn’t eaten in days. I agreed to meet her in town and took her to McDonald’s. My heart broke at what I saw. My once beautiful and intelligent daughter was merely a ghost of the child I knew. Her eye are hollow, her skin is gray, her hair and clothes are dirty. She has sores on her arms and legs. While we were eating I asked her if she was ready to go back to the rehabilitation center? She glared at me as though I asked her if she was the devil. She picked up her food, her backpack and ran out of the building.
I just sat there crying, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. I was shaking and hated myself for this happening. While I was driving home, I realized she had stole a small pocket watch I keep in my purse as well as $40.00 I had. I don’t know how she would have stole these things right out from under my nose.
I’m so sorry for the long drawn out email that seems to be all over the place. I really don’t expect anything to come of it. But, I want to at least thank you for reading it. When I hit send I felt a bit better maybe I just needed to vent and you were the next thing I saw on my phone. Thank you for that.
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I cannot express my regrets to you sincerely enough. I received your email, sat down and cried for you and your daughter. I know it came as a complete surprise to you that I replied right away. After our discussions, you didn’t expect anything to come out of it at all. Honey, that’s not how I roll.
I have been where you are … it’s gut wrenching … it makes you throw up … it saddens you in a way you never knew you could experience sadness. It rocks you to your very core of existence. I cannot express enough how sorry I am that you and your daughter have experienced such horror.
We have had telephone discussions and I spoke in detail about my journey with my son, nephew and sister. All of whom, where drug addicts. It’s never a pretty sight.
Drug addiction is a disease. A disease that has become pandemic in our world. While I do believe we are all responsible for our own actions, I cannot blame your daughter, my son, my nephew solely for their actions. It goes so much further than that. The pharmaceutical industry, pill pusher doctors, pill farms all exist and they prey on those who are suffering mentally. They are the new drug dealers of our time.
With that being said, it’s very important that you know IT. IS. NOT. YOUR. FAULT. Drug addiction does not discriminate. It can hit anyone at any time. You have told me that your daughter refuses any help you have offered her. You say that she prefers to live on the streets and continues to use. Let me let you in on a little secret … she does not WANT to live on the streets. She does not WANT to continue to use. It’s the drug and the damage it has had on her brain. It has affected her thinking pattern, her ability to rationalize. It’s the beast that is inside her guiding her and begging her for more. She fights a battle every single minute of every single hour. She is at a point in her drug addiction that it won’t be until she has ‘hit her rock bottom’ before she reaches out for help.
In one of our discussions, you told me that your daughter has been away from home for years now. You do not enable her. You have closed the door and turned out the lights … and you are ridden with guilt as a result of it. Maria, I’m here to tell you that you ARE doing everything you can by not enabling her, by being there if she is willing to talk and get help. You should not feel guilty for these actions. Right now, the most important thing that you can do is TAKE.CARE.OF.YOU. … there are organizations out there to help you cope. Al-Anon is a wonderful organization for parents of addicted children. I have been to many of those meetings and each time I have always walked away learning something new about myself and my addicted child.
Depending on your financial state, you can ascribe to a drug addiction counselor for treatment. Speaking to someone who is knowledgeable about drug addiction can be life changing. They are wonderful people who exhibit a tremendous amount of patience and truth, who’s sole purpose is to help you put you back together.
As far as your daughter is concerned, she is the only one who can change her behavior. The old adage ‘you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves’ has been my mantra in dealing with addiction. As a mother of an addict, I always let my son know I will never give up on him. I will always love him no matter what. I will be there for him when he is ready to get sober. I will seek out treatment centers to send him to and attend all the group counseling meetings required. I will do anything, anything to help him get sober when he was ready.
Maria, I, too, received calls to bring my son food … we met in an alleyway, he was strung out, much like your daughter … he was living on the streets. He was dirty and sickly. I dropped off his food, told him how much I loved him and always asked him if he was ready to get clean before I left. All without passing judgment … only expressing love.
I remember one Winter, it was very cold that year … the shelters were full and folks were forced to sleep in the parks and alleys. I drove around town for hours looking for my child … not to bring him home … but to provide him with a clean, warm coat … with heavy socks and gloves … a hat and a backpack filled with canned foods and toiletries … I sat with him in my car to warm him up … we would talk and I always let him know how much I loved him and always asked if he was ready to get sober.
I always drove home with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart … but knew I was doing the right thing … he had to want to change.
I repeated these same steps with my nephew … and then one day I got a text message from him that said, ‘Aunt Carla … I think I’ve hit my rock bottom … I’m ready for help’ … you can bet everything I’m worth … I spun into action … set him up in a detox facility, got him a bed in a rehabilitation center and attended every visiting day and group therapy meeting I could. When he finished the program .. he went to a halfway house to start his new life … with therapy and NA meetings he has been sober for almost 2 years.
My son hit his rock bottom when he almost lost his arm to a staff infection he contracted by using dirty needles. He was on a runaway train and knew he would die if he didn’t get help … he has been sober for almost 4 years.
Maria, this is not an issue that has a clear cut plan to guide your daughter to sobriety … there in only love and the simple understanding that she has to want to get help all while fully knowing you will be there for her every step of the way. Until then … pray … a lot.
I’m always hear if you need a shoulder to cry on or to vent your frustrations, you can always count on me. xo
Although I have spoke extensively with Maria about the experiences that we share, you may be asking yourself why I opened myself up to you, my Readers. I do so because I’m a writer … I’m a writer with a story … my story is no different than those that I have heard from thousands of mothers and fathers with addicted children. I became a writer to use my words to help others … in hopes that by reading what I have to say I can make a difference in your life. Give you some form of hope … opening myself up isn’t easy for me … it’s necessary … you never really get over those feelings.
I don’t take the current sobriety of my boys lightly … I embrace those sober moments because everything can turn on a dime … things can go back to the way they were … at any given moment. I won’t tell you it’s going to be okay but I will guarantee you that I’ll be here if you need me … I’ll support and guide you to the best of my ability.
If you have a question you would like me to address, please send an email to email@example.com. I will do my very best to give you a well researched answer and hopefully together we can come up with a solution. There are no questions too big or too small!
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See you in the comments,