Hello my name is (insert 25’s name here) and I am a drug addict.
I have done some very difficult things in my life: putting MrsL and 25 on a plane from Germany to the US 1 month after he was born and getting on a military transport two days later headed for Desert Shield/Storm, watching as 20 was struggling for his first breath after an emergency C-section because MrsL had dangerous toxemia, not being there as my Mom battled cancer not one but twice, not being by her side when she finally ran out of time waiting on a cure for cancer the second time, and finally having to keep 25 alive long enough for medical help to arrive. None of those compared to hearing 25 introduce himself in the way he did to our group session Sunday morning!
As I wrote about briefly last week, MrsL and I attended the family counseling session this past Thursday evening through Sunday. While it was very informative and provided both of us with a new found understanding that we were “parenting 25 to death…” it left us with more questions that will have to be answered over the next 5 weeks. Now, those questions pertain to his aftercare and Early Intervention Plan.
We only had one group session that included 25 on Sunday and 4 other clients with their family members from the weekend. Each of us, client and family member, had to answer 5 questions:
- What have I learned about addiction?
- What have I learned about myself?
- What changed would I like to see in our relationship?
- What boundaries or guidelines would I like to establish?
- What has been recommended for my own recovery/aftercare and what am I willing to do?
The family members were split up Saturday afternoon, after all of the presentations, to work on these separately but in a group. The intent was we could only read the answers we wrote on the paper given during the session on Sunday. No cross talk. No Q&A afterward. If after the session we wanted to explore them deeper we had to schedule a session with 25 and his counselor, which we are going to do.
As I said, I have dealt with loss and grief before. Growing up in a small southern town I had a large extended family so I saw aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and a parent all pass away. I can deal with grief.
What I realized this past weekend is that I need help with dealing with 25’s addiction. The hardest part was admitting, through analysis and retrospect, I was the CHIEF ENABLER keeping this vicious cycle spinning all because of the crippling fear of losing him (loving him to death)! Answering those five questions then reading them in a closed group setting was incredibly difficult yet comforting.
We were the last family to have to read our answers. Confession, I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I am the guy who cries at the movies, when I see a new born, or at weddings, etc (get the picture). I don’t hide it and am not afraid to show my emotions; however, this was indeed painful. I couldn’t even finish introducing myself Thursday night to the group without sobbing! So, sitting through 4 other families reading their answers to each other then 25 reading his answers to us had me an absolute wreck. However, a brief bit of sanity and easy feelings surrounded me and I was able to read my answers without stopping. Thanks to my Twitter family for sending out those comforting vibes. I truly feel like we have a new beginning; however, it is going to be a LONG DIFFICULT path for 25.
I have always believed in my heart that addiction is a disease and genetic. The first presentation Thursday night by one of the medical doctors on staff confirmed my beliefs. The part of the brain that is affected by addiction is also the part of the brain affected by OCD, Diabetes, Multiple Personality Disorder, and on, and on, and on. Addiction is triggered because the person has identifiable lower levels of dopamine and the drug use initially makes them feel “normal”. The old saying of “chasing the high” was explained in agonizing detail by the doctor then by a 41 year sober recovering alcoholic. The latter of the two explanations clicked with me!
The scary part is that there is this thing called PAWS: Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms that can last up to 2 years in heroin addicts. 25 is aware of this process and is developing tools to deal with them when they happen. One of the ways we are going to deal with it together: we are both going to get the semi colon tattoo when he finishes his treatment plan. He is going to put his on the inside of the wrist on the arm he used to inject himself. I haven’t decided where mine will be but it will have to be somewhere I can conceal while at work but visible when I need it…probably the inside of one of my wrist as well.
I have committed to renewing my spirituality…not religion! There are so many wonderful spiritual activities to fulfill one’s self (chastity being one of them in my eyes) and I am going to seek them out. One of my answers to question 5 was something 25 showed us during out last visit: meditation labyrinths. A brief search on Bing this morning found 18 within a 50 mile radius of our house and 3 with the traditional pebbles. I will be visiting one of them this weekend and MrsL and I will be attending our first Nar Anon meeting tomorrow night. We are going to make it a date night!
All in all, this was an emotionally and physically draining weekend! However, seeing 25’s progress and him voicing his desire to get and stay clean were great. He has been clean and sober for 46 days (yes I am tracking it as well) and I couldn’t be more proud to be his Dad!