I received this e-mail today and thought it would be a wonderful read for many of you following our blog and dealing with your own addicted loved one. Samantha, a wise 21 year old woman graciously granted me permission to publish her e-mail. Every bit of it is very much worth your time to read.
Hello Dad and Mom (as you refer to yourselves on the blog),
You don't know me, but I feel as though I know you to some degree. I've recently found your blog, and have read the all of your entries with hope to find some inspiration, as well as a few answers. Before I go on, I want to say thank you for being so honest in your blogs, I know your life isn't merely a story and as of now there's not a set fairy-tale happy ending that you can put down for an ending. This is real life, and all you can do is take it one day at a time. Sometimes one hour at a time depending on the stress of the day.
I'm a 21 year old female, who is also in recovery. My drug of choice wasn't opiates, but it soon would have been had I not gotten the help I did when I was 19. I was a severe alcoholic by the time I was 19, at this time I started experimenting with drugs hardcore and my life was going nowhere. I was an honor roll student, graduated with a 3.9 gpa, all-star athlete;my life looked great, but I was far from happy. Drugs and alcohol were my life, they were the only thing that made me feel whole. I know now, it was all a fake happiness. I hate this disease more than anything, I've seen people get sober and change their lives for the better, while some I've seen lose their life to this disease.. it's so sad. I'll being going on 2 years sober September 1. I must say, there are days where it's easier than some, but some days I can only take it one hour at a time.
I can very much relate to some of the battles you're facing with your son. My ex-boyfriend was a heroin addict, and I must say it was the hardest battle I've ever faced. We met over a year ago, when he was claimed to be sober. Ryan, was 22 and grew up in Texas. His family sent him to Minnesota to seek professional help and get sober, however, Ryan hasn't been able to stay sober for a long enough time to return home. I've gone around the ringer with his drug-addiction, it literally has taken every part of me. Since his family was 1300 miles away, it put me in a tough position: do I stay to try and help him, so in case something happens at least he's not alone or do I walk away, but if something happens is it my fault. At 21 years old, these are tough questions to be asking. Somethings I've realized in being apart of Ryan's addiction is there's not much anyone can do. The addict must become willing on their own time. For as hard as it is, they are the only one's who can change. Sometimes I forget this part, because I so badly want Ryan to do this because why would he want to stay in the misery. But then I think about my recovery, and there is no one else making me stay sober, but me. I'm staying sober because I want to stay sober. My life was a living hell when I was using, I was desperate for change..
I really like how you made a checklist of the all rules in order to bail your son out. I can't stress enough how important it is to stay with your rules and boundaries. Often times, I get so frustrated with Ryan's parents because they enable him financially. They send him a weekly allowance of a few hundred dollars, pay for all his needs and don't expect nor stay put in their rules. They enable him to continue this lifestyle. Ryan sits at home, no job, no school, no 'true' friends, no expectations to do anything. His boredom leads him back down to drugs every single time. I always felt that if his parent's would stop enabling him financially it would push Ryan to his bottom a lot quicker, or to the point where he's ready to seek professional help because he can't afford his habit. Unfortunately, I can't control it. I share this story with you, because I pray that you stick to your guns, for as hard as it is you might be helping the addict more than you think. Sure there's always that fear of what if, there will be a lot of fights and manipulation coming from the addict's perspective. But let me tell you: it will soon end when they are ready. Had my parent's not stuck to their rules, I would have been out partying a lot longer, but because I knew they weren't going to bend the rules anymore, not matter how much I begged, cried, and pleaded, it was time I changed.
I can't say I know exactly how you feel, because I'm not a parent to an opiate addict. But I have shared many, many of the trials and tribulations that you've experienced. I've taken on the co-dependent role for Ryan, the girlfriend, the care-taker, and the parent. I feel bad about walking away, and apart of me didn't want to. His drug addiction pushed me away. I believe Ryan is using again, and I'm torn. Since I don't have any proof, I don't know if I should contact his parent's. I'd hate to stir the pot when I don't have solid proof. Seeing how it is from the parent's side from my own experiences, and reading your blog it's an awful thing to hear that of your child.
I pray for your family and for your son. Addiction is a painful disease that effects all members of the family, not just the addict. Addiction isn't even fun anymore, it robs the addict of joy, love, goals, and happiness. I pray that your son will seek help sooner rather than later and that your family can learn to heal. Just keep doing what you're doing, and remember stick to your boundaries!