Our Stories Are Our Strength
COLLECTIVE JOURNAL: July 12-16, 2021
Reply to “An NC Parent”: I just read your story and I am so sorry you are having to go through all of this. Thank you for sharing your journey, through your words you have given such an in-depth heart felt and gut wrenching look at what it is like to be the parent of a child struggling with addiction. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have tried to explain it to people and have never been able to quite find the words that work. Reading your words I could feel all of the highs and lows, the hope and the sorrow, the fear and the moments of excitement, no matter how brief, those moments of hope tend to carry us from one to the next. I wish every politician could read this and feel every moment of the journey as you so accurately explain it. I wish that they could understand that this is not a financial or political issue but rather a very personal very human issue. An issue that needs to have every potential resource available, our sons, daughters, significant others, friends, everyone that struggles deserves no less. Again thank you for sharing your deepest feelings and telling others how real it is. I will be keeping you and your daughter in my thoughts. I also will be sharing the link to this story with others. Some who really need to get their heads out of their preverbal A**** and understand.
Many long years ago, I began to drink and to party, at around 18. Soon, I began finding very interesting boyfriends, and as my parents were well off, I was equipped with designer clothes and the best hairdressers. I also was given a new car for my birthday. I was spoiled as a youth. I saw nothing wrong with my drinking and nothing wrong with my father’s drinking. He worked every day and was home for supper on time every day. I was sent off to college, with my tuition and expenses paid for. One week before the end of the term, I decided to quit, because it was “too much work”, and instead I decided I would get married. My parents were dismayed, since they had never had these opportunities for education, but they arranged for a big wedding with all the bells and whistles. I had 2 babies in the first 2 years … (no work there, right?). Divorce was inevitable, since both drank. However, I had other dreams or fantasies in this world. During my twenties, I spent time with 8 “bad boys” (read narcissistic and antisocial). I married 2 of them and repented at leisure.
I had departed my faith life, and at the end of this mess, I told God that if He existed, I would make him a deal, I wanted nothing to do with God, and he should not have anything to do with me. I would leave God alone and he should not bother me anymore. In essence I threw my Higher Power out of my life. A few weeks later, I drank so heavily, 2 bottles of scotch, a bottle of red wine, a bottle of Irish Whiskey in hot coffee, and a bottle of brandy in about 5 hours, and I weighed 118 pounds. Dose by weight by time, blood alcohol was probably a .50. You are supposed to die at .30. I was crawling around on my living room floor and muttered “God help me” not really a prayer, more of an exclamation. At that point, I think He heard me, looked at His angels and said, “My, that is the most interesting invitation out of her that I have heard, I think I will take her up on it. I knew at that point that this was well beyond a simple “everybody overdoes now and then”.
I called my loving and long-suffering mother and asked her what to do, and she said to look up the number in the front of the phone book and call them (AA). I said I would and thought to myself “let’s not and say we did and it wasn’t for us”. But when i hung up the phone, I called anyway. My soon to be sponsor came to my door to see me, and I peeked thru the door hole and she was so well dressed and so pretty, that I thought to myself “that Bch never hurt a day in her life, what does she know”, but I let her in, and heard what she knew. She shared her story with me and she was my sponsor for years. I used to get annoyed with her when she was always saying things to me and later I would discover she was right….all the time! The first 2 years she saved my life. After that we were like sisters and best friends.
I am old now, having lived to be 80 and have 51 years of sobriety. I work in this field, because “in order to keep it, we must give it away”. In my early recovery, I had the opportunity to care for my mother for 8 years until she died in my arms in her sleep. I needless to say, have a close relationship with my Higher Power, God. My brother got recovery, and we had a good relationship. My father died before my recovery. My sons were and are proud of me. I love and have loved my whole family dearly. Amends have been made, forgiveness came quickly, and trust was earned. I do my job, but for me, it is not just a job. Early in life I took from it, and now I am able to give back and give to it. This is my calling and my commitment to the recovery of those who are still suffering. I will continue as long as my Higher Power permits me to function. At 80, I am not sure how long that will be, but hope it lasts until I am called Home.
I, also, am the parent of a child who has had addiction problems to multiple drugs. This started in her teens and continued to late twenties. It was hell. My empathy for her torture was so strong, I could feel it throughout my whole body, and it caused severe sleep issues and other health problems. Joining Nar Anon helped a great deal. Being able to share my pain with other parents and family members of addicts lessened the load and started helping me get my own life back. She went to jail multiple times, crashed cars, had broken bones, and came close to overdose death several times. All throughout, I always let her know I loved her and would never abandon her, but she could not live with me and I had boundaries. Her Dad took a different approach, old school, tough love style. This just did not seem right to me and we had many disagreements over the years. In the end, my daughter finally responded to the love and it helped her out of the muck and mire. Months in jail and rehab kept her away from the drugs long enough to start making better decisions. It took close to two years for her brain to start functioning well enough to work. I know that these short programs have absolutely no place in addiction treatment. They only encourage relapse and don’t come close to meeting the needs of this disease. We need a different type of treatment. We need the kind of treatment that truly addresses the needs of each individual. Our children that started using in their teens never had fully formed brains to begin with and they need a great deal of support over an extended period of time when they quit. In European countries long-term residential treatment is more the norm. “In most European countries, funding for residential treatment is provided by governments, typically in the context of a joint funding arrangement either between different levels of the government or in tandem with health insurance. (EMCDDA, LISBON, JULY 2014).”
There really does not seem to be any other way. We must have government funded healthcare for addiction disease. Profit motivated care will not work and has not worked. Please contact your elected representatives to support government funded programs. This is a national crisis and deaths are still soaring. My story, so far, has been a success because my daughter is now doing great. She is working and loves her job. She is creative and happy. Many of her former friends have not been so lucky. Many are dead or still suffering. Thank you for reading about my journey as the mother of an addicted child.
I was 60 years old when I completed a Master’s Degree in Counseling. I am now 72. I am a Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor. Every day, I work to educate DWI (and other) offenders about the choices they make (Prevention Research Institute Prime for Life program). I believe education about drugs and alcohol is the key to reducing the disease for our youth and is key to slowing the frequency of repeat offenders. My daughter died from liver disease (alcohol) at 41. She was beautiful and smart but that doesn’t matter when it comes to addiction and dependence. I tried everything to help but nothing worked. I have learned parents need to be present and active in their children’s lives and help them have focus and avoid boredom. I am working to get alcohol and drug education as a part of driving education in our state. One of my sayings, “If you don’t know where you are going, you may end up somewhere you don’t want to be.” Many of our young people do not have focus and purpose. We know how to take care of pets and plants to help them thrive – children need all that attention and more. We can make a difference! I am reminded of the story about the child who was picking up star fish and throwing them back into the water. The story goes, the adult says throwing one starfish back doesn’t matter. The child answers, “It matters to this one.” That is the attitude we can all take. We cannot individually save everyone, but every effort to help educate and re-direct one child matters. Be one who makes a difference! N M Faulk, NC
In response to “One Story from a NC Parent,” I would just like to say, please write more and write in many more places! You were able to take me back to the time when you met your preemie baby with the rosebud mouth. You made me feel your “visceral response” when you saw your daughter in shackles and a jumpsuit. You took me to more than one of your forays into Dante’s rings of Hell. Hah! You even took me to a cubicle on Mars. You made me feel like you should be given a license that would allow you to drop the F-bomb whenever and wherever you like. Thank you for writing!