Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Hardest Day of My Life

Putting my son in Rehab was undoubtedly the hardest day of my life up to that point.  I have nearly died in childbirth and my father-in-law was killed in a terrible automobile accident, but I can honestly say that leaving my son at that rehab facility was the most heart-wrenching thing I have ever had to deal with. 
Neither my husband, nor I could believe what was happening and where we were at with our son.  My husband was a champion, though, and immediately began making phone calls to find out what our options were. 
Our son may have thought that there was nothing that we could do about it, but we were not willing to leave it at that.
My husband spoke with our family therapist for recommendations on where we could get more help, with our bishop, and with several different rehab facilities.  The therapist thought that based on the depression getting worse and our son’s statement that he was going to continue using marijuana no matter what we said or did, that he needed to get inpatient help.
What a hard decision!
We finally found a facility that our family therapist recommended, that our bishop recommended, and that seemed to be equipped to provide help with drug addiction, depression, and even medical issues.  They had an opening coming up the next week.
Then, we had to get ready for his admission date.  I had to secretly buy all new personal care items, make sure he had enough clothes, and pack his bag without his knowledge.  Getting your child ready to enter rehab isn’t an inexpensive project and the entire time I was packing his bag, I was in tears. 
We told him that on Wednesday, we were taking him to have his depression evaluation.  He knew that his family therapist had scheduled one for him—and during our 3 hour admission interview with a therapist, medical doctor, and psychiatrist, he would be evaluated for depression -- so we were telling the truth on that part.
As we drove in separate vehicles to the facility, I just had to try to not think about what we were doing and where we were going so that I wouldn’t be in tears before we even got there.  Our son just sat in my husband’s truck on the drive there with his head down, eyes closed, listening to his I-Pod, so he didn’t even know where he was. 
We had to ring a doorbell to be admitted into the facility.  There were 2 signs on the door that said, “High AWOL Risk Alert!  Please keep all doors locked at all times.”  I had this feeling of dread when I saw those signs and wondered what my son would think about them when he saw them.  But, he walked in with his head down, which was his usual depressed manner, and did not even look at the signs on the door or see the sign on the building that said “Residential Treatment Building”.
At one point during the question and answer period, they sent us out of the room and just talked to him.  I thought they were asking him questions about his marijuana use and wondered what he was admitting to.  After the question and answer period with the therapist and doctors, they told us right in front of our son that they were recommending residential inpatient treatment to help him with his chemical dependence and depression.
He didn’t understand what they meant.  I started crying and asked them to explain to him what that meant.  When, he finally got it, he became angry, but sad at the same time.  He had tears streaming down his face as he jumped up out of the chair swearing and saying how he felt about it.  He asked us why we were doing this and when we told him that we were doing it because we care so much about him, he told us that he didn’t want us to care.  I thought my heart was going to break.  My husband was trying to be strong, but it was very hard for him, too.
When it was time for us to leave, we gave him hugs and told him that we loved him, but he wouldn’t respond.  He had totally shut us out. 
Walking out of that room and then out of the building was so painful.  It felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest as I left one of the most important people in my life behind, knowing that he hated my guts for it. 
In the parking lot, I just cried and cried on my husband’s shoulder.  He was crying, but still trying to be strong for me.  The sad thing was that he had appointments for work scheduled and I was going to be alone for the rest of the day.
I couldn’t handle it.  I called one of my best friends.  She asked, “How are you?” 
I sobbed, “Bad.”  And she told me to come right to her house.  I cried and cried the entire time that I was driving there.  I spent the rest of the day with her because I couldn’t bear the thought of going home to my house where my son would not be coming home from school, or would not even be home at all that night or for weeks to come. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

3rd Strike

Our family therapist thought that our son might have depression.  He was arranging to have our son tested.  He knew about the marijuana use and said that kids who are depressed think that marijuana will help their depression, but actually marijuana makes it worse. 
Before we could get him tested, he got sick.  This winter, there was a virus going around that gave people a bad cough that lasted for weeks and weeks.  Most of his coughing every day was between 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.  He would start coughing in the evening and just would not be able to stop, so he was awake ALL NIGHT long.  No one in the house was getting much sleep, but since he was awake all night, and still coughing some during the day, he couldn’t go to school.  Nothing worked to get him to stop coughing.
He started to get REALLY depressed.  Being shut up in the house, after having been grounded for a month, just really had an effect on him.  He wanted to give up on everything that he ever wanted to do or liked to do.  He would just isolate in his room and play the X-box.  Eventually, he even didn’t want to do that.
I tried my hardest to find things for him to do and to help him get over this sickness.  I took him to 3 different doctors during those 3 weeks, trying to help him.  It was a long three weeks. 
Finally, he was able to go back to school.  I was so happy and thought that after spending 3 weeks with me trying to help him in every way that I could, that we had turned a corner on how things were going.  I thought that he hadn’t had any chances to use marijuana during that time, so maybe he would stay clean.
When he came home from school that day, I stood right by him at the refrigerator while he was getting a drink.  I couldn’t believe it!  He smelled like smoke and his eyes were bloodshot.  I asked him if was cigarettes or weed, but he wouldn’t tell me and wouldn’t talk to me.
I was SO angry!
His first day out of the house in weeks, his first day back at school, and the first thing that he can think of to do is get high?
Of course, we drug tested him again and it was positive for marijuana.
Later that night, my husband was talking to him and our son said this, “I have been so bored and it gave me something to do.  I like smoking weed. I have smoked it for a long time.  I am going to keep smoking it.  AND, there is nothing you can do about it.”
Oh really?

Friday, March 25, 2011


What do you do when you find out that your child has smoked marijuana?  Ground him. 
I hate grounding.  It punishes me more than it punishes him.  Then, I get to stay home with him while he tells me that there is nothing to do and I should let him play the X-box or think of some miraculous new thing to occupy his time that no one has ever thought of before. 
He was grounded expect for going to school.  No more walking to school and no more walking home from school.  He got to have a free ride from mom or dad both ways. 
We also made him stay after school for one hour every day to get help from his teachers and to try to get caught up in his classes.  School had only been in session for a few weeks and he was already failing and behind in everything.
Some people would tell us that this was a red flag that we should have watched out for as a sign of possible drug use.  It is true that this is a warning sign.
But, our child has had problems in school since he was in 4th grade.  For some reason in 4th grade, the main source of learning was completing worksheet after worksheet.  Our son started to show a problem with getting the information from his brain to the worksheet.  When he didn’t get them done fast enough for the teacher, she didn’t help him, or try to understand what might be going on, she assumed he was a lazy slacker and berated him constantly.  He lost his motivation completely.
From that point on, no matter what we tried, school became a constant source of conflict and struggle.  Getting assignments completed and getting good grades just got harder and harder for him and for us as parents trying to help him and motivate him.
One day, during the grounding period, when I went to pick him up from school, I caught him  walking back toward the middle school from the high school.  I listened to all of the excuses about how there were no teachers there to help him in any of his classes, etc. 
I also looked at the red, bloodshot eyes.
“My contacts have really been bothering me today.” 
Another of our struggles.  Since he began wearing contacts, he would refuse to take them out every night because putting them in every morning was painful and time-consuming.  So, actually, he often does have red, irritated eyes from his contacts. 
But, at this point, his red eyes were another red flag that we had probably been missing.
That day, I was very suspicious because I had been thinking about the red eyes, the overwhelming smell of Axe deodorant at times, and the random showers in the afternoon (“because we sweated a lot in P.E. and I didn’t want to take a shower at school”). 
Now that I had caught him where he wasn’t supposed to be, it was time to use one  of my new drug testing kits.
He tested positive for marijuana.
I was so angry because I trusted him to stay at school and do what he was responsible for.  He was lying and sneaking around and smoking marijuana, instead.
Obviously, we knew at that point that we had been lied to about how much he has used marijuana, and we felt so stupid.  It’s crazy because We didn’t ever feel like we had any reason to suspect him.  We trusted him and thought we knew how he felt about using drugs, drinking, and smoking.  We were always so proud of the way that he seemed to be a good example for his friends and told everyone how he would stand up for his beliefs and that his friends wouldn’t even swear around him because they knew he didn’t like to hear it.
We knew we had a bigger problem than we thought we had a few weeks before.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The First Day

“Yes, it’s mine.” 
That’s not the answer we expected to hear, when we showed him the light bulb pipe. 
We thought he would ask us what it was and where we got it.  Then, we thought he would get really mad at his friend “throwing him under the bus” to protect himself.  We were 90% sure that it belonged to the friend, not our son.
But, he said that it definitely was his. 
A marijuana pipe. 
Belonging to my son. 
This was one of the last times that we would hear the truth from him about drugs. 
If your child is using drugs, then your child lies. 
We just didn’t realize that at first.
He assured us that he and his friend had smoked marijuana one time and only one time.
Why did he smoke weed “that one time”?  According to him, we had a big argument and he left the house angry and just decided to go smoke pot. 
If your child is using drugs, your child will blame you, everyone else, and everything else for his drug use. 
We have had more than our fair share of teen/parent arguments in the last few years and we were actually going to family counseling to try to get help with our communication problems, but I didn’t know that there was a possibility that our arguments might have revolved around this unrecognized background activity going on in his life.  I just thought our arguments and conflicts had a lot to do with his oppositional defiance.  He has always had a need to feel like he is in total control of his life and has never liked being told what to do. 
We had a long talk that night about the dangers of marijuana and drugs.  He assured us that he didn’t like it, that he had never done it again, and was never going to do it again.    He said it didn’t really do anything for him, just that it made him feel a little different for awhile.
We were disappointed in him, but we believed him.
Sort of.
I ordered drug testing kits from Amazon that night.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why I Am Screaming Inside

Imagine the unimaginable.  Imagine that your child has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  The tumor has tentacles that weave throughout the brain and there is no way to remove it.  You have been told, though, that your child can live with this tumor with certain treatments, therapy, and coping skills.  You are also told that at any time, the tumor could flare up and cause problems with your child’s ability to function normally and may cause problems with family relationships, school, and activities.  It could even shorten your child’s life, but the doctors have no way of predicting when.  Your close friends and family offer their concern, love, and support.  You are so worried and scared, but you do everything possible to help your child.  You provide treatment and therapy.  You help your child with coping skills.  You devote your life to making sure that your child is as healthy and safe as can be, all the while watching for signs of any behavior changes.  It is a daunting task, but you will do anything to make sure your child has a great life.
Imagine the unimaginable.  Imagine that your child is an addict

Now imagine that when you try to get help for your child he hates you for it.