Friday, April 29, 2011

Finding Out the Truth part 2

The next things that I read were the first and final drafts of his Drug History Letters.  They mysteriously reappeared from the garbage dump!

Rough Draft
“When I was 12 years old I started smoking cigarettes because all of my friends did.  A little while later I started drinking beer and vodka. I drank a lot.  I started smoking weed when I was 13.  I really enjoyed it.  Then I tried lortab and aderol.  You could crush up the lortab and sprinkle it on your bowl.  When I was 14 I started doing X and GHB and LSD and coke, shrooms, and then I got caught.  My friend got in trouble and told his parents that everything was my fault and that he had nothing to do with drugs and then they brought me here.”

His therapist wrote these questions at the bottom:

When did you use?  (During the day, after school?)
How often were you using?
Times when you almost got caught?
How did you keep parents from figuring it out?

Final Draft
“I started using drugs when I was 12 years old.  I smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol.  My parents had no idea.  I always lied and told them I would never do that stuff.  My relationship with my family was ok.   I enjoyed doing things with my family.  I started smoking pot when I was 13.  I would smoke all the time in the shower before school, behind a dumpster during school, and in a tunnel after school.  I was high a lot.  That’s when my relationship with my parents started to get worse.  I didn’t really like my parents and I was very disrespectful towards them.  I kept smoking cigarettes and pot as often as I could.  When I was 14 I started to do harder drugs like ecstasy.  I did that quite a few times.  I have smoked it, snorted it, and swallowed it in my room and at school.  Then I tried mushrooms.  I really enjoyed that.  I have done that a few times.  Then I tried cocaine.  I did that at my dealer’s house.  I have only done it a few times since.  I have also done GHB at my friend’s house.  I have only done that once.  I have also done ridelen, aderol, and lortab.  I would crush them up and snort them or put it on my bowl.   I got most of my drugs for free because I would get drugs from my dealer to give to his clients at school and he would pay me with drugs.  I have mixed mushrooms and weed, alcohol and weed, ecstasy and weed, aderol and weed, ridelin and weed, lortab and weed, cocaine and alcohol, and ecstasy and alcohol.”


The usage list keeps growing and the details are not consistent.  I don’t know what to think about that.  Was he just in a hurry to complete the different assignments, not really caring whether he told the whole story or not?  Was he just writing down what he remembered it at that particular time?  Was he making things up?  It sounds like he used so many different drugs that maybe it was just hard to keep track of them all.  In his final draft he said that he has only done GHB once.  On his worksheet, he wrote that he was doing it once a week.  He said that he has done cocaine only a few times at his dealer’s house in his final draft.  On his worksheet he said that his favorite drug is cocaine because it is easy to hide and easy to use.  He wrote on his rough draft that he started smoking pot at age 13, not 14.  He also wrote that he has done LSD.  That was a shocking new addition.      

The reality of the direction that his life was going is so frightening.  Now that he was home and I had learned all of this extra information, I was concerned that he hadn’t made the necessary progress during residential treatment towards not wanting to use drugs anymore.  He used a lot of drugs!  He mixed a lot of drugs!  How long would he have lived if we hadn't found out when we did?  How would he find a way to live a life without them?

Every single new piece that gets added to the puzzle of his addiction intensifies my feelings of sadness. 

He was using so much.

He was “high a lot”.

And I never even noticed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finding Out the Truth (part 1)

We had an emergency meeting the next day with the therapist.  She convinced my son to give living with us another try.  He says he will take it one week at a time.

Taking it one week at a time will be fine as long as he is not just waiting for that one week when nothing goes right and he feels it is going to be a good time to start using again, whether it is during his outpatient treatment, or when he is released. 

It worries me so much.

While unpacking his bags, the next day, I found several packets of papers that were very enlightening and disturbing.  I did not tell my son that I found these papers and that I read them.  I made copies and put them back with his notebooks as if I had not gone through them.

The first thing that I read was a Drug History Worksheet.  I think he completed this before writing his Drug History Letter sometime during his first few weeks of residential treatment.

1.  How old were you when you first started to use drugs?  Identify the three most important reasons why you decided to use.14.  I was angry.  I was bored, and I was pressured from friends.
2.  Who were you with when you first used drugs and where did this occur?  How did you get the drugs?My friend had some and we did it at his house.
3.  How did you feel physically and emotionally when you used for the first time?  What were you feeling afterward?I felt great tripping.   I just had a really bad headache afterward.
4.  Why did you continue to use?  What influenced your decision?I enjoyed being high and I was really bored.
5.  Explain the progression of your use.  Describe what led to you increasing or decreasing the amount you used or how often you used.  Describe the periods of time when you were using the most frequently or the highest amount.I always used in the morning, some weed or coke, more during school and a lot when I got home.
6.  What was the most you have used in a 24 hour period of time?A ton of weed, shrooms, and alcohol.
7.  What drugs have you used at the same time and what led to your decision to combine drugs?Alcohol, x, pot, cigarettes.  I wanted to be really high.
8.  How did you hide and cover up your use?  (at home, at school, from friends)Told my parents I was going somewhere with friends or I didn’t hide it and just came home stoned.
(At this point he had to list all the drugs he has used including alcohol and tobacco, what age and grade he started using, all the ways he has used the drug, how often he used it, and all of the places he used it.)
Tobacco & cigarettes, age 12, 7th grade, smoking, 2-10 a day, home, school, streets
Alcohol, age 12, 7th grade, drinking, 4-5 times a week, 2-3 times a day, home, parties
Pot, age 13, 8th grade, eating, smoking, 2-3 times a day, home, school, parties
Mushrooms, age 14, 9th grade, eating, 2-3 times a week, home, school, raves
Cocaine, age 14,  9th grade, sniffing
X, age 14, 9th grade, sniff, swallow, 3-4 times a week, raves, home                                            
Liquid GHB, age 14, 9th grade, drink, 1 a week, raves                           
Lortab, Adderal, Ritalin, age 13, 8th grade, swallow, 1 a week, raves, home                            
9.  What is your favorite drug?  Why is this drug your favorite?Cocaine.  It’s easy to hide, easy to use.
10.  What have you done to stop using drugs or to use less?Nothing
11.  What negative things have happened to you because of your drug use?  Write about how it affected friends, family, self-esteem, legal problems, health, sleep, etc.It screwed up my family life and got me stuck in this sh#* hole.
12.  What risks have you taken to use drugs or because you were under the influence?I could have OD’d or I could have been sold bad drugs.
13.  What benefits did you believe you got from using drugs?It is fun and it is something to do.
14.  How much were you spending each week on drugs?  If you had to buy all the drugs that you used, how much would they likely cost?50-70 a week.  I got a lot of my stuff for free and I dealt for my dealers.
15.  Have you ever given or sold drugs to others?  What drugs did you give or sell?  How much did you make?I was paid in drugs.  I sold everything I have done and DMT
16.  Have you ever helped someone else get hooked on using drugs?  If so, how do you feel about this?Yes.  I feel like crap.
17.  What reasons do you have to stop using?  How important is it for you to stop using?  Explain your answer.If I stop using I could fix the relationship I have with my parents but right now it is not very important to me.
18.  What needs to change in your life to help you stop using drugs (friends, job, school, values)?Nothing needs to change.  I just need to decide to stop using.
19.  At this time in your life, how would you be able to take care of yourself without relying on any support from your parents?Not very well.
In the beginning, we thought that he had a problem with marijuana.  Then, after we heard his drug history, we knew that it was much more than that.  Seeing it in writing and seeing how it progressed just makes me sick inside.  I wondered how he hadn’t overdosed, hadn’t caused more damage to himself, hadn’t been in trouble with the law, or hadn’t died.

I want to know whose house he was at when he was 12 and started drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.  Where did he get the over the counter medications?  I want to know what friend got him started with pot.  I wonder when he could possibly have gone to parties and raves.  I am just shocked that he dealt drugs to other kids.  Not only did he put himself at risk by using drugs, he put others at risk, too.

What happened to my boy?  Is he still in there somewhere?  Will I ever feel like I know him again? 

I want him to be whole and well and to commit to staying clean and sober for the rest of his life.  But, I know that is not how battling addiction works.

He has so much more to overcome than we ever imagined. 

We have so much more to overcome as a family.

But we are just the support team. 

The rest is up to him.

God, please help him.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First Night Home

It was not good.

I don’t know how or why, but it all just blew up into the worst night in our history, so far. 

I didn’t know what my son’s expectations were, but I just wanted happy feelings all around now that he was home. 

It sure didn’t turn out that way..

We met with the nurse and signed all of the paperwork to have him released.  Then, we had a short family therapy session.  The mood between us seemed pretty good even when the therapist prompted him to confess some other things to us.  He told us that he forgot to add the use of Spice and mushrooms to his Drug History. 

Also, during a truthfulness exercise in group therapy that day, one of the kids told everyone that the sore on his leg was from cutting, not from running into the basketball rack in the gym.  He confessed that he hadn’t really been cutting, but while stoned at some time, prior to his admission to the facility, he carved the word BUD into his leg with a PENCIL!  (Bud is a slang name for marijuana).  It became infected and took a long time to even begin to heal.  I had seen a bandage on his leg once when he was wearing shorts and asked him how he got hurt.  He told me that he kept running into a sharp corner on the rack that holds the basketballs in the gym.  He wouldn’t let me look at it and told me that the nurse checked it every day when she gave him a new bandage.  So, he had lied about it and now the truth was out.  He had done one more stupid thing and was going to have a visibly permanent scar from it.  As opposed to the scars from all of the other stupid things that he has done that we can’t see from the outside.

When we left after packing up the rest of his belongings,  he seemed happier than I had seen him in months.  The therapist thought that we were all going to be just fine.

While we were driving home, I asked him how he had been sleeping lately.  I did not know that asking him that one question would start the whole mood of the night spiraling out of control, but it did.

He said he had not been sleeping at all.  I asked him if he had tried meditation before trying to go to sleep.  Then, he started to complain about how meditation was stupid and asked us if we meditated.  We started to explain that we were actually reading a book about it, but hadn’t meditated, yet. 

He interrupted us and said that we could have just answered the question with a yes or no.  We didn’t need to go on and on about it.  He told us to stop talking about it.  We tried to change the subject, but were again told to just stop talking.  We felt like we weren’t allowed to talk about anything.  So, we drove in total silence from that point until my husband dropped me off at the pharmacy to get the new prescriptions.  They went to get a pizza.  They came back to pick me up and after I got into the truck, he apologized for “whatever just happened”. 

Okay, so we had one glitch, but it was still going to be great!  We would go home and eat the pizza and cheesecake that he requested for his first meal and have a fun night together. 

But, I guess I was just kidding myself because his mood didn’t change.

We were in the beginning stages of getting exactly what we had been dreading.  Every ounce of anger that he had felt against us in the last two months was in the process of being unleashed.

After dinner, he tried to play the X-box.  But, the LIVE account was not working so he couldn’t play his game online.  I didn’t know why.  He had last played the X-box on January 1st during a home visit and it was working then.  No matter what I did to fix it, nothing helped.  I tried going online and providing updated credit card information and I tried unblocking some parental controls.  I even told him that I could go to Target and buy an X-box LIVE activation card, but he said that wouldn’t work either.  He shot down every effort and every idea since nothing had worked so far.

I told him that we would just have to try to fix it the next day.  I was getting frazzled and we had used up all the time that he could have played it anyway that night.  He was so angry about that.

I suggested that he could probably just be happy that he was home for tonight even though he didn’t get to play the X-box.  I said that at least he had been able to eat the food that he likes and would be able to sleep in his own house.  His response to that was that the whole reason he was excited to come home was so that he could play the X-box and nothing else. 

He informed me in a not-so-nice way, full of not-so-nice words that life was going to be as boring as hell since the X-box was NEVER going to work again.  He said that he would not have anything to do until he was 18 years old and could move out.

As the night went on, he just got more unreasonable and rude about everything.  It seemed like, the minute that we drove away from the facility, he changed from the kid that the therapist thought was ready to go home, to the kid that had finally been released from prison and wanted to let us know how mad he was that he had been held against his will for so long. 

Around 10:00, when it was time to go to bed, he refused to take his sleeping pill and insisted that the pills don’t work anyway.  The doctor at the facility had been trying different strategies to help him be able to sleep and had just written a prescription for the medication that he had been taking in the facility.  So he must have thought it was helping.  Now, all of a sudden, the pills didn’t work? 

Now, next in his escalating state of unreasonableness was his plan was to stay awake all night since it was impossible to sleep anyway.  He refused to even lie down on his bed, turn off the light, or try to go to sleep.  We suggested everything that we have ever tried ourselves to be able to go to sleep, but he wouldn’t accept any of our advice.

Whenever we would try to just walk away from the argument, he would start in on us from a different angle on the same subject.  He refused to even go upstairs to the bedroom until I could come up with some miraculously entertaining thing for him to do to pass the night away. 

He told me that the attitude that he had that night is just the way that he is now.  He said, “When you have seen me on the weekends lately, you haven’t seen me the way that I really am now.” 

He complained about how he would never have anything to do, that there was no reason for anything, and that he had no friends. 

He said that we were going to regret sticking him in rehab because it didn’t help anything. 

He let us know that he thought it would suck coming home and that WE made it suck when we freaked out about meditation on the way home.  Really?  We freaked out about it by asking him if he had tried it and by telling him that we were reading a book about it.  That was it.  And, that was freaking out? 

He just kept on arguing, and swearing at us in language that we have never heard him use before in our lives.  He blamed us for everything that had happened, because we wouldn’t let him do anything fun that night.  We were just making him go to sleep right when he got home from rehab.

That wasn’t the situation at all, but he was in such an emotional state that everything he said was becoming more and more absurd. 

As parents often do when they don't know what else to say, we told him how much we loved him and how much we wanted this all to work out.

Of course, his answer to that was that he didn’t want to work it out with us. 

The tirade got so bad that we actually called the facility and told them that all hell was breaking loose here and that he was totally out of control. 

We seriously asked if we could bring him back. 

I could not believe that we were at that point, but that is how bad it was right then. 

He said he would gladly go back because it was better than being here with us.

They said no.

He had only been home 3 hours and was already in a relapse cycle.  I was afraid to even go to sleep myself, when and if he did decide to calm down, because I didn’t know what he was going to do.  Eventually, I just let him watch movies in the family room while I sat on the couch.  I think he might have gone to sleep around 3:00 a.m.  It was a long, emotional night.

I don’t know what in the world happened.  It was like we did everything wrong while trying to do everything right. 

It felt like 2 months of any kind of progress toward a drug free life and a better family relationship was just flushed down the drain.

Three things contributing to the most awful night we had ever had with him up to that point. 

I asked him one question on the way home.

He wasn’t able to play the X-box. 

We expected him to go to sleep, like normal people do at night. 

Or was it four things?

Because now he was living with the evil parents who put him in rehab. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sleepless Night

We came home after hearing him tell us his drug history thinking that if we had any doubts about his need for rehab, we didn’t anymore.  He used so many different drugs!  It was unbelievable.  It was surprising to us that with that kind of drug use, that he hadn’t had any obvious consequences.  He hadn’t had any trouble with the law.  But, how many close calls did he have?

How could we come to terms with all of that in less than 24 hours?

He was coming home the next night.

All night we brainstormed on ways to prevent him from being as sneaky as he obviously had been for the last 2 1/2 years or so.

We thought could reactivate our alarm system.  We could install a motion sensor light in his room and in the hallway so that if he tried to sneak out in the middle of the night, or got up for any reason, the light would turn on.  We could put a new screen in his window, so that he wouldn’t be able to stick his head out of a hole and smoke.  We could take the lock off the bathroom door so that he couldn’t smoke marijuana in the shower, as easily as he had before. 

We could be suspicious wardens who watch him like a hawk, who never let him out of our sight, and who don’t trust him in any way.

Not only were we thinking in terms of trying to keep him safe, but we were trying to figure out how we were going to get along with him.  To say that we were very nervous about bringing him home would be an understatement.  Our family communication skills had not improved very much over the last 8 weeks.  In some ways, they got even worse.  We didn’t even know how to act around him.

We were also afraid that he would refuse to cooperate when it came time to wake him up every day to take him back to the facility for school and Day Treatment.  This has been an issue in the past, but also, he wasn’t currently having a very good interaction with his teacher at the facility.  He said that when we bring him home for Day Treatment, he would not go back there to school if things didn’t change with her.  The therapist assured us that she had talked with both of them together and that everything would be okay.  But, my son was still concerned and I was worried.

So, what if he came home, and we couldn’t get him up to go to school?  We would argue, he would defy, and the whole cycle that rehab and counseling was supposed to help him get out of would start again. 

I wanted everything to be better, not worse, after all that we had gone through in the last 2 months.

Looking back, we were thinking rather negatively about how he was going to act when he came home.  But, we didn’t know what his frame of mind was really going to be.  Would he come home, follow the rules, and continue to move forward positively towards continued sobriety, or would he come home and immediately try to revert to his previous behaviors?  Would he come home and really show us how he felt about us for putting him in rehab?  Gratefulness or hatefulness?

We were going to find out very soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it can’t get any worse.  Don’t ever think that it can’t get any worse.  Because it can.  You think you are at the bottom and that things are as bad as they can possibly get.  And then the bottom drops out and you find yourself at another bottom.  There is always another bottom.

At least there is when your 14 year old son is an addict.

I wrote thOSE things the night that my son quoted his drug history to us at Family Group Meeting. 

He was supposed to read it, not quote it.  He said that after he passed it off with the school teacher and therapist, he threw it away.  He claimed that he didn’t know he had to read it to us.  He never re-wrote it.  I’m sure he was hoping that he could just skip the part of the assignment where he told everything to us.  His therapist said that he really was terrified to tell us his drug history.

He started out by saying that we were going to be blown away by what we were about to hear.  He was very articulate and told us things that did blow us away.  The bottom dropped out on our world as we knew it.    

Our son not only used marijuana, he used almost everything that you can think of. 

These are the notes I took that night.


13 – weed, 1 – 2 times a week, then all the time
Played around with Aderol, Ritalin, Lortab
Alcohol now and then

Ecstasy quite a few times

None of my friends that you know.

Car hopping, hooking people up, friends just had it.

The next night at family therapy, he added “shrooms” and spice to his list of drugs.  I wondered if he left out heroin, too.  Heroin is as readily accessible as weed, but the therapist assured us that he has not used heroin.

Translation:  my son started drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes at age 12.  He started smoking weed and took prescription drugs at age 13.  Then, added cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms, and spice at age 14.  He stole from unlocked cars (car hopping) and dealt drugs to other kids to pay for his own drugs.

We were so disappointed.
In him.
In ourselves.

2 1/2 years.  And we just found out about one drug—4 months before that night.

What did we miss?

Did I stop hugging him at age 12?  I don’t think I did.  But, now I think I didn’t hug him enough.  Did I give him a hug when he came home from school each day? 

I should have.

I should have smelled his clothes and searched his pockets every day.

It’s too late for that now.

I guess I could should on myself for the rest of my life and it wouldn’t change the reality now.

My son is really an addict.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


After almost 8 weeks of residential treatment, his therapist said that she wanted to discuss Day Treatment at our next family therapy appointment.  My husband and I started speculating on when she thought he would be ready for Day Treatment and we concluded that it would be about 2 or 3 more weeks.  We hadn’t even had an overnight home visit, yet.  All of the visits that we had up to that point had just been for a few hours, trying to have fun on holidays or birthdays.  None of the visits had any part of real life in them.  All of the other families seemed to have a couple of overnight visits before their kids went on Day Treatment.

So, when she said, "we will be releasing him next Wednesday," we were shocked.  Our immediate reaction inside was, “Too soon, too soon!”  But, we couldn’t say that out loud in front of our son.  As soon as I got home that night, I emailed the therapist and told her that I was freaking out about it.

We felt like we didn’t know what to do to be ready, ourselves, to have him come home.  But, nobody was going to gauge his coming home on our emotional state of being.

I wasn’t certain that he had really gotten over being mad at us and wondered if he was just putting on an act so that he could get released.  I had this fear that he would come home and start showing us just how he really felt about what we had done to him.  I didn’t think that he had come to the realization that we didn’t really put him in rehab, the depression and his own actions put him in rehab.  I hadn’t seen him take ownership of the problem that he created for himself.

We were worried that he if he came home too early, we wouldn’t be able to get along with him, and he would use that as an excuse to relapse.  Then, he might have to go right back into residential treatment.  We hadn’t ever heard him express any change of heart about any of his feelings.  We didn’t feel like he was in a good place, at that point, about how he was going to live his life in the real world.  I kept thinking about how he said that he would stay clean while in treatment, but didn’t know what he was going to do after that.

We had attended a presentation at the facility the week before where a therapist talked about the odds against these kids who are in treatment.  Parents were supposed to learn about the effects of drug and alcohol use on the brain, relapse cycles (what events might all come together to cause a child to relapse), and how many kids usually relapse.  These odds were frightening!  One third will relapse, One third will die from drug or alcohol use, and one third will go on to stay clean and sober.  If the point of the meeting was to help parents acknowledge the reality of how serious their kids drug problems were, they succeeded, and scared us to death about how our kids had more chance of not making it than making it. 

I want MY SON to be in the one-third category that succeeds and goes on to have a great life.  But, I don’t want any of the other kids that we have met to fail, either.

I also knew that he would have to read his drug history letter to us before he could come home.  The next opportunity for him to do that would be the night before she wanted to have him released.  The night before!  We would finally hear the truth and then have no time to process it or deal with any emotions about it before he came home.  I had the feeling that we were going to find out about a lot more than we knew about at first. 

I came to this conclusion when the therapist was helping him with a ‘relapse triggers’ assignment during a family therapy session.  They were talking about how walking by someone who was smoking a cigarette would be a trigger for him.  A trigger for smoking?  My son smoked cigarettes?  I thought to myself, “Did he take off all of his clothes, put them in a hefty bag, smoke his cigarette, take a shower, get dressed, and come home smelling like he had never smoked a cigarette in his life?”  I never noticed him smelling like smoke.  I think I might have asked him about it one time and he said that he had gone into a friend’s house where the mother was smoking and that was why he smelled like smoke.  I believed him because I knew that the mother smoked and I reminded him that he was not allowed to go into their house, especially when she was smoking. 

Now, I thought, “What else don’t I know?”

I wanted to be able to discuss his drug history in family therapy before he came home to Day Treatment.  I hoped that at least we would be able to discuss it one time the night that they released him.  I knew that if we were going to be able to have a good conversation about it, we would have to do it with the therapist helping us.  I asked her if we could start talking about it in family therapy so that we would know what to watch out for, but she never answered me on that or on my concerns about him being ready for him to be released. 

It seemed like either the insurance company was telling the facility that he had been in residential treatment long enough, or that they needed to make room for a new admission, because they were sending him home and there was nothing we could say or do about it.  Ready or not.

I wondered if all of the other parents who bring their kids home for the first time are just as nervous about this as we were?  Was I the only one who was terrified?  Was I just overreacting?  Should I have been rejoicing that he had made enough progress to take that step? 

I wanted to be happy about it, since I missed him so much.  I just didn’t feel like he had made enough progress.

But, ready or not, he was coming home.

Monday, April 11, 2011


My time is not my own right now. 

My husband and I have dedicated 3 of our weekday evenings during this rehab experience to helping our son and our family.  It feels like we have become so busy that we don’t have time for anything anymore.  Hobbies, housecleaning, and even our other children seem to get neglected, (luckily they are both married adult children and should be able to cope with it).  Both my husband and I haven’t spent nearly as much time on business and work as we used to and as we still should.  Not only are the week nights busy, but I have spent a lot of time reading books on topics like parenting, how families are affected by drug use, and all of the information from the required parenting classes.

My husband and I have spent hours talking and thinking about how to get through this trial with a solid relationship.  We thought we were doing fairly well with that while he was in residential treatment.  One thing we did have during the first two months was more alone time together as a couple. 

One night a week for the first two months, we had parent training.  We spent one and one half hours that night learning parenting techniques and some of the behavior therapy skills that the kids learn.  We liked the parent training a lot.  It seemed to help just to be in a room with other parents who were going through the same things that we were going through.  Listening to them talk about the challenges that they have had with their kids made us feel like we were not alone.  Even though we have friends and family who have been supportive and who listen to us when we cry on their shoulders, somehow it is different when we talk to people who experience similar things with their kids.

We learned some acronyms for remembering how to handle interactions with our kids.  One that is easy to remember and works really well is called GIVE.  It stands for be Gentle, act Interested, Validate, and use an Easy manner.  This one is very helpful when things start getting out of control--if we can remember to use it.  When arguments start with our son, neon lights need to start flashing to remind us to use GIVE.

We also learned about Mindfulness, which is paying attention in a particular way, “being” in the present moment, and not just doing things on automatic pilot.  

We learned how we have 3 states of mind—reasonable mind, emotional mind, and wise mind.  Wise mind is a combination of reasonable and emotional minds and is the best frame of mind for communication with our kids.  I know that almost all of the time that I have spent yelling at and in conflict with my son—I was definitely operating in emotional mind only. 

On the same night, right after parent training, we have Family Group Therapy.  This meeting has been on-going one night a week throughout the entire time my son has been in the program.  We meet with all of the parents and kids who are being treated by the same therapist to discuss various topics presented by the therapist.  She goes over behavior therapy skills, talks about what has been going on with the kids in therapy, and teaches us how to communicate better.  This is also the group where each kid has to read their drug history letter to their parents.  Meeting with the other parents on a more one-on—one type basis and hearing the kids talk about the feelings that they have in front of their parents is very therapeutic.  Our son does not say very much in these meetings.  This, apparently, is his pattern in all of the group therapy situations that he participates in every day.  The staff and therapists have a very hard time getting him to share and talk about his feelings.  Every time he does share, I feel like writing it down, just to have proof that he has opened up, just a little bit.

The next night, we have Individual Family Therapy for an hour or more, depending on how things are going with our family relationship.  At first, these meetings were even shorter than the one hour that we should have had.  He was so angry that he wouldn’t talk at all.  His therapist  asked him how long he was going to stay angry and he just shrugged his shoulders.  She said that he was setting a record for how long a kid in treatment stayed mad at his parents.  My husband and I would silently laugh and think to ourselves, “Yes, that is my son.”  Then, after leaving for the night, my tears would come. 

We have spent most of our Family Therapy sessions discussing communication, limits, expectations, and rules.  I wish we could figure out how to function in these areas so that we could spend at least some time talking about the big issue—Drug Use!  Sometimes I think my son likes to have one of our other problems be the topic of the day just so that we won’t have the chance to talk about his drug use.  Our therapist is great, though.  She tries very hard to understand our son and helps us get through one week at a time, making a tiny bit of progress toward improving our family relationships.

The last night that we spend at the facility with our son is also one that we benefit from—the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  I never would have thought that in my entire life, I would have a reason to attend an AA meeting.  The meetings are run by an adult and many other adults attend, but the kids in the program get a lot of the focus.  Each week, one kid presents a topic for discussion, and then everyone gets a chance to comment on the topic and share their feelings.  It is very eye-opening to us as parents to see the people and hear what is said in this meeting.  Feelings are shared without reservation and all of the alcoholics/addicts help each other by talking about their experiences.  We understand more about what it is like to be an addict by listening at these meetings.  It also helps us to understand that staying sober is one of the hardest things that these people will ever do.  As we have become familiar with some of them, we feel very happy to see them each week and know that they are still making it.  This is where our son met his AA sponsor.  He is one of the adults who regularly attend the meetings.  This man has become a big part of my son’s life and has done so much for him.  We will never be able to thank him enough for his help.

While in residential treatment, we also visited our son on Saturdays and Sundays—sometimes taking him some food, playing games with him, and on Sundays reading religious based magazine articles to him.  When he was given a pass which allowed him leave with us for a few hours, we would take him out to dinner, breakfast, shopping, or even to get a haircut. 

One of the big impacts of spending all of this time on our son was also spending a lot of money.  We were always gone at dinner time, so we went out to eat every week.  We were happy to find a diner within 5 minutes of the facility that had good prices and a very diverse menu. We also ate a lot of fast food and—surprise-- I gained weight!  We spent money on drawing supplies, books, clothes, and other miscellaneous items that he just had to have.  He is a master manipulator and even in rehab can guilt me into buying things for him. 

We will do anything that we can to help him.

Including spending huge amounts of time and money. 

Rehab isn’t cheap.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


We already knew he had Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  I knew it before he was even diagnosed with it when he started family counseling before we even knew about the marijuana.  There are no medications for ODD, but when we admitted him to the program, we made them aware of it so that they would know one thing that they had to deal with right from the start. He has definitely given them an education in dealing with ODD.

He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.  I don’t add the H for Hyperactive, because he has never had a problem with that.  He does have trouble paying attention, but never to the point that anyone in the school system really thought he was ADHD.  All of his teachers just thought he didn’t care and that he was lazy and that this could be corrected by attitude adjustment.  So, yes, his main problem was motivation.  But, the psychologist at the facility said that if parents also knew that motivation is a huge part of ADHD, they would be able to understand that their child could be helped with ADHD medications.  He said to think of it as Motivational Deficit Disorder instead of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. 

That just explained this whole area of his problems in school and in getting anything accomplished--Motivational Deficit Disorder!  Why could we not have known this 6 or 7 years ago?  Just think of the help that he could have had in school, if he had been diagnosed with this so much earlier! 

Would we have had the school issues to the point that we have in the past?  Would we have had as many conflicts?  Would he have started using marijuana?

He began taking the prescription medication, Aderal.  After the first few weeks, when he was just mad that he was there and wasn’t willing to cooperate with any expectations, he began to try.  He noticed a big difference in the way he works in the school classroom.  He was able to get more done, pay more attention, and started getting better grades.  He has been so proud of all of the A’s that he has had on his progress reports.

He is in a small classroom with about 10 boys, total and is able to get more help and attention.  But, I think most of what he is doing to succeed in school right now is more because he likes how it feels to understand the work, and he feels a great sense of accomplishment every time he sees that he has earned another credit.  It is awesome to see this in a kid who never cared about school at all!

However, he does not get along with his teacher very well.  They clash on everything and I don’t know why.  She has to have patience and understanding for kids who have troubles and problems.  Otherwise, why would she teach school in a rehab center?  But, she doesn’t seem to have much patience and understanding for my son and his troubles.  So, to see him succeed in spite of that is another huge step in the progress he is finally making.

He has also been diagnosed with depression and has been taking the medication Prozac.  This has also helped very much.  It took about five weeks before we saw its benefits, but when it started working, some of his personality began to shine through.  Every now and then he made a joke, or shared a feeling, or just acted like he wanted to be around us.  It was a very good feeling after months of his being solitary and withdrawn. 

I think that seeing the real person inside him is going to take a long time, though.  There is a lot going on inside his brain.  He can only start to feel like he knows who he is again and know how to live life when all of the effects on the brain from drugs begin to reverse (which could take over a year), when all of the anger at being put in rehab can be let go of, and when all of the years of not feeling successful in school and life can be overridden by every small success and accomplishment that he makes. 

We also have a long way to go in repairing our family relationship.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I started having nightmares several times a week right after my son was gone.  They were always about him and even though I couldn’t remember anything that happened in them, I would always wake up terrified for him.

If I couldn’t go back to sleep, I would get up and type my thoughts or email his therapist, if there was something that I wanted to talk to her about, anyway.
I wondered how long the nightmares would go on.  They lasted for several weeks, then suddenly stopped.  I think they stopped after he made his first visit home.  Something must have clicked in my subconscious that he was going to be okay now and I didn’t need to be afraid anymore.

These are some of my midnight thoughts:
Have I lost him through this?  Not necessarily through admitting him to the program, but through the drug use, depression, and our attempts to help him?  I see the other kids at family group therapy and how they act toward their parents and I wonder if they were as mad at their parents as our son is towards us.  I wonder how long it took for the other kids to get over it because he doesn’t seem to be getting over it at all.  Is he going to be mad at us for the rest of his life?

It hurts to have him so angry now.  It hurts to not be able to give him a hug every day and tell him I love him.  It hurts to have him act like a brick wall when we are around him.

 How long will it take for him to realize that we had to do something when he got so depressed that we were afraid for his mental health?  And that we had to do something when he told us he was not going to quit smoking pot. 

When he made that declaration, was he really crying out for help because in some part of his mind, he knew it was getting out of control?  Maybe.

Is it so bad that we don’t want him to be depressed and we don’t want him to hurt himself, or die from using drugs?  We just want him to be happy and healthy and to have a good life.  
He thinks that being able to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, without us caring for him is what he needs to be happy.  But, he wasn’t happy when he was pushing those limits and trying his hardest to push us away.  He was mad at the world.

We have always tried to make sure he had a good life.  We have given him as many opportunities as we could.  He was allowed to try almost every sport and take any lessons that he wanted to take.  I would drive him and his friends anywhere that they wanted to go and usually wait patiently for hours until they were ready to go home again.  We have gone out of the country on vacation and have gone on many family vacations throughout the United States.  We have our own recreational retreat in the mountains where we can go and have fun as a family.  We thought we were doing everything we could to make him happy.

It was so hard when we started to have attitude problems with him.  As he got older, he started defying us on everything that we wanted him to do. 

I know I have handled things badly in the past and have been a parent who yells too much.  It is a reality that I am not proud of or happy about.  I just didn’t know how to deal with his oppositional defiance or with him not being motivated to do well in school.  I found that grounding him, giving him consequences, and taking things away didn’t work, so my last resort was always yelling.

It has been a daily struggle to try to be a better parent.  I have taken classes and read books about how to deal with oppositional defiance.  I have always tried to make up for taking the low road in conflicts by showing him more love, taking more interest in him, and doing things with him.  He usually has never stayed mad about the situation for very long.  At least I thought so.

I know that currently, the depression is a big part of how he is acting, but I also think that his oppositional defiance is playing a part in it.  When he knows that we really want him to do something, he will dig in and resist with all his might.  He wants to have all the control over his life.  In rehab, he feels like he has no control. 

Right now he knows that we want him to become well, to have a change of heart, and to be happy again.  So, of course he is going to resist.  He is determined not to give us what we want.

At parent group one of the things that we talked about is the philosophy that "they might not have caused their problems, but they are theirs to deal with".  This turns the control of the current reality over to them, but I think that he is so caught up in blaming us for everything that he isn’t stopping to realize that this problem of being in rehab is his to deal with now.

At this point, since he is still in a very angry phase, I don’t think he is feeling any remorse about smoking marijuana and isn't planning to stop.  He thinks that if we weren’t so hard on him about school, or following the rules, or wouldn’t have had arguments with him, or would have been able to provide constant non-boring entertainment, he wouldn’t have started using drugs. 

It is not fair that he blames us for his drug use.  He is the one who made that choice. 

Nothing about this is fair.  We trusted him. All of the talks and conversations that we had about drugs, smoking, and drinking left us feeling that we knew how our son felt about it.


Now we are waiting for him to complete a drug history letter to us.  I think that he hasn’t completed it because it is one more step toward realizing that he has to deal with his problem and because he isn’t ready to do the things that are expected of him in the program. 

I am also getting the feeling that he doesn’t want us to know whatever else he has done besides marijuana.  I am anxious to hear it so that I know what exactly what we are dealing with.

But, I am also afraid. 
I think the nightmares are just now my everyday reality.