So, here I sit in the middle of my not-so-clean house, not cleaning it. Yesterday was the final deadline for my summer class, it had been extended from last Friday. I really hate when the finish line gets moved, but there you go. I’ve been hanging on for this class to be over so I could get on with summer and all my grand summer plans, and this morning all I feel motivated to do is sit here. Gave each kid a bowl of oatmeal and now I’m just wallowing in the idea that I don’t HAVE to do anything. It will pass in a minute and I’ll get up and get on with my to-do list for the day. Wash the shower curtain in our bathroom, strip and wash the kids’ beds, scrub the upstairs bathrooms, go the grocery and pick up graduation gift for the last grad party of the season. Think about the fun the kids and I can have next week with no homework hanging over my head.
Life is good. My life is good. I am so aware of my blessings today.
Last week’s post about heroin lurking just on the edge of our world got a lot of hits. I am glad that folks are reading. I got feedback on Facebook, through emails, and even a comment here, about personal experiences of parents. My friend who wrote the piece I posted has written a bit more to share with you. I hope you will read it, too, and keep the conversation going. I can’t tell you how important I think it is to have this conversation. So many of us as parents are hanging on the idea that we can all somehow find the perfect book/blog/philosophy/guide/support group/whatever and we’ll be able to do this job perfectly. Or at least well enough that our children will be spared any pain, or bad decisions, or any of the pitfalls of life. I want to make the point again, with the help of my friend, that we’re all making mistakes and some of our children will get themselves into really bad places, whether it’s drugs, or something else. What I’m NOT saying is that it isn’t worth the struggle. I’m not saying that we should just accept the fact that some of our kids will turn into junkies and all we can do is hope it isn’t ours. I believe that talking about it will do two things. First, it will help remove the stigma felt by these kids who are trying to recover, and by their parents. Less judgement, more love, is always beneficial in healing. Second, it will increase awareness by those of us who don’t have a lot of experience with these things. A head in the sand never solved anything. Ever.
So, here is the next installment of a conversation I hope will continue.
How Did You Know?
How did you know? I’m not sure I did.
Why did you go looking? My gut told me to.
You invaded his privacy? I saved his life. For now…
Heroin is seductive; it lures you in and makes you its slave. It does not discriminate and invades families of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and cultures. Heroin provides an almost immediate emotional and physical pain free escape from reality. It is as instantaneous as social media. RAPID RESULTS. Something our young people have become accustom too.
Statistics are showing that there is a terrifying trend. More people under the age of 21 are trying heroin. In fact, there has been a sharp increase in first time heroin use in the 12-17 age group. #Staggering
How did this happen? Ohio waged war and shut down illegal pill factories. Unfortunately, they created a climate that was ripe and ready for a heroin epidemic. Pills became less available and costly. Think $80 for a single pill. My son, since rehab, has shared with me that similar to his experience, most of the heroin addicts he knows, started on pills. For my son, his dealer struggled to get pills, so his dealer turned him on to heroin. Here is a
FAST FACT: Did you know heroin costs about $5 a hit. That is cheaper than pot and way cheaper than pills.
Guess what else? Heroin is more accessible and easier to obtain than not only pills, but pot.
The tiny blackish-brown square of black tar heroin, wrapped in foil, placed in a sandwich bag costs about $5. The physical and psychological relief this little mistress provides is reportedly amazing. Euphoric. It gives instant relief to anxiety, depression, mania, physical pain and everything else. You just don’t feel.
Regular use changes brain chemistry. Not only does your tolerance increase, so more is the only thing you desire, but your brain chemistry changes so you think being high is normal. And you will continue to use more, so you avoid any withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include, goose bumps, watery eyes and runny nose, excessive yawning, loss of appetite, tremors, panic attacks, chills, nausea, muscle cramps, insomnia, stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, shaking, chills and profuse sweating and irritability.
So first, let me state, I am no expert, I am a mom. And my son’s addiction, although I know it is not all on me, it feels like an exceptional parenting fail. So please, no need for you to judge me, I am judging myself daily. So there is no perfect science in how to tell if your loved one is using.
What I know is that my son was dealing with some pretty challenging personal SHIT just before his heroin addiction. I could see he was spiraling and he did not want our advice or help. I also knew he was not coping well with his stress. There was excessive pot smoking. I discovered he was drinking my booze. And although there were fights and consequences, I know he could have cared less and I felt helpless.
Then I noticed a couple times some seriously glassy eyes. It was weird and it was a look I had not seen before. I don’t remember the puddley looking eyes with the tiny pupils. I thought to myself, whoa, he looks messed up. So I would ask if he was okay. How do you think he responded? He’s 20 and he would become volatile if I pressed, so I didn’t.
He was also pulling away from us. Isolating himself, spending time with his personal shit problem girlfriend and became more private and more withdrawn.
In my gut something was horribly wrong, I knew it, I felt it and people around me would talk me out of
it. So I gave it time. I gave it about five minutes.
Then I did it. I invaded his privacy. I went in to my 20-year-old son’s room and searched. It didn’t take much searching; I saw the baggie, syringe (sans needle), a small piece of foil, a spoon and a lighter sitting out on a chair. It was right out in the open.
(By the way, what this taught me was that there is no privacy in my house. If I suspect my child is in trouble or doing something troubling, I will search their things and be unapologetic because it could be life or death. It is not a betrayal, it is my house and my rules – I can search and I will search.)\So what were the signs? The signs sucked, I relied on my gut and his behavior. Did my gut tell me he was using heroin? No, but I knew something was happening.
What should you do? Every situation is different. Not every addict presents the same. There are some similarities though. They lie and they get really good at covering their addiction. They may bargain and make promises that heroin never intends for them to keep. They stop caring about everything, except heroin.
BE PRESENT, OBSERVANT AND TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.
What should you look for:
Pin Point pupils
Droopy appearance like every limb, including their head is heavy
Dry mouth and extreme thirst
Appearance lacks care altogether
Withdraws or other behavior changes
Baggies and foil laying about or in trash
Understand that addiction is a disease. It is complex and your loved one will struggle. Relapse is part of this struggle.
Understand the difference between support, enabling and meddling. This is tough, so rely on help from professionals and friends.
TALK ABOUT IT – tell trusted friends and talk about it. This hardship is too much of a burden for you to carry alone. Go to a meeting like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.
Remember, there is no such thing as recreational heroin use, get them to rehab. Find a program. If they have a family component, go to every meeting, rearrange your life for your family. This is important. Embrace taking things one day at a time. You need to live during this time too. Live and find joy in every day. Look hard for it, because it is there, even if it is to be grateful your loved one is safe and in a facility.