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.