Thursday, March 22, 2012


I decided since it was highly likely that he relapsed, but he swore up and down he didn’t, that I would say, in my mind "he has been mostly sober”.  At AA meetings, when he tells the group he is 270 days sober, I always silently change it to “270 days, mostly sober.”  What else could I do?  Insist that he start over at number one, when he insisted that he didn’t use?  I was glad that he thought of himself as being sober. 

He was about 280 days mostly sober when it was time to start the new school year at the high school.

I did not want him to go to that high school and I did not want to let him out of my sight.

I was so afraid.

During the entire summer, I felt like I spent my entire existence making sure that everything was just as right as it could be for him.

And now I had to let him go.

He said that since he hadn’t had hardly anything to do with any friends over the summer and hadn’t seen any of the kids he used to hang out with, straight or sober, for the last nine months, that he didn’t know what he would do when he went back to school.

I didn’t know what to think.

School alone has every trigger that there could be for relapse, but him saying that he didn’t know what he would do just made me feel so nervous.

I wanted everything to be just the way it should be so that he wouldn’t have a reason to relapse.  I know that sounds ridiculous and totally absurd, but every single part of my being does not want him to go back to using drugs.

And High school is the den of iniquity.

I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like for him.

Would he say, “I finally have some freedom and this is what I am going to do with it,” and then go right back to using drugs as if he had never stopped?

That’s what he did last fall after he was sick and stuck at home for 3 weeks.  His first day back at school, he was right back on the weed and whatever else he could get his hands on.

He went to his sophomore orientation day.  He had no one to go with and no one that he could count on to hang out with.

He had to be nervous, but he acted tough as if it were no big deal.

I surprised him with a cell phone.  I knew it would make me feel better if he had one.  And he had said that if he had one, he could call his sponsor or me, if he felt that he should talk to us rather than do something stupid.

He was excited about the cell phone for about two minutes.  As soon as he found out that it was restricted, he decided that he didn’t need it or want it and that was it.  He had been told many times that if I ever got him one, he would only be able to call or text certain people, and that there would be no internet access.  I guess he thought that was all right in theory, but not all right in reality.

When I tried to talk to him about it, he decided to strike out at me and hurt me. 

He said as sarcastically as possible, “Oh right, and when someone says, ‘hey man, give me your number,’ I can say, ‘No, I am not allowed to call anyone but my mom because she is my best friend.’”

Well, so much for thinking that for the most part, over the last few months, that we were pretty good friends.

It seemed like we had gotten back to normal in the past few weeks, even though I felt very cautious about letting myself open up.  I didn’t want to get stabbed in the back again. 

But, there is no such thing as normal.

Unless normal is knowing that he has an underlying thread of animosity about everything in his life.  And he was not afraid to let us know how mad he was about anything at any time. 

I know I have to stay detached and I know I have to not let  what he does get to me.  But, for me, that seems to be impossible!

He went to his half day orientation.

And didn’t take his phone.

Then, he got out early.  But, he couldn’t call me to come and pick him up because he had no phone!

While I was driving to the school, he was walking home.  Then, I waited and waited and he didn’t come out.

The longer I waited, the more nervous I got about where he was and what he was doing.  I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. 

He called me from his only friend’s house and said that I wasn’t home when he got there, so he went to his friend’s house to call me and ask if he could hang out with him for awhile.  (This friend is one year younger than he is and still goes to the Middle School).

I was so relieved to know where he was and that he was okay.  But, I was also mad because at this point I feel like HE NEEDS TO BE WHERE I KNOW HE IS GOING TO BE and if I am going to pick him up from school, then he better be there for me to pick up! 

He didn’t see what the big deal was.


He hadn’t even had one full day of school yet and I was getting attitude.

The first day of school just broke my heart. 

I got this text message during his lunch hour:

“Everyone is either a stoner, a jock, or a straight up nerd.  The only ones I fit in with are the stoners.”

I felt so bad for him.

I wanted to run right to the high school, take him out to lunch, and protect him from feeling like that.

But, I just texted him back and told him that HE is not a stoner anymore and that he WILL find friends who are in none of those categories because there are all kinds of people at school and in time, he will find good non-nerdy, non-stoner, non-jock friends.

We texted back and forth all during his lunch hour!

He actually used his phone!

That felt like progress.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This has been the hardest chapter to write. 
I think that relapse is one of the hardest things for the family members of the recovering addict to accept.  It can happen and everyone knows it can.  But, no one wants it to and it is heartbreaking when it does.
The next day my son acted just as lethargic and out of it as he had the previous day. 
I told my husband that we could not delay the inevitable any longer and that we were going to drug test our son that afternoon.  I didn’t want it to be positive, but I thought that at least we would know if we needed to find out if something else was wrong with him because this all-over-the-place behavior could not keep happening.  There had to be some kind of explanation for his out of control anger and actions.  We had no other ideas about what could be going on with him.  It was so much more than just being overworked and tired.  I did not want it to be a relapse because he had been doing so well.  But, you never know what is going to trigger a relapse and something about working in the garage, probably did.
When my husband got home from work, we called our son in from working in the garage and told him he needed to go pee in a cup.  He said he would, but I sensed some reluctance. 
I didn’t really know everything was going to spiral out of control in such a big way from that one test.
I have never seen a kid freak out and lose control like he did. 
As we were watching for the results, he made sure to reaffirm that there would be a positive result for amphetamines.  As if I didn’t know that.  It seemed to me that he thought something would be masked on a drug test by the fact that it would already show positive for amphetamines.  (Adderall, that he takes for ADHD is an amphetamine). 
The drug test showed positive for benzodiazepems and opiates.  (Not even amphetamines, which was weird). 
While we were reading the fine print on the drug test directions to figure out what benzodiazepems were, he asked us what the drug test showed and when we said that it was positive in two areas, he totally lost it. 
For the next 4 hours, all hell broke loose in our house.  I can’t even say heck, to put it mildly, because it was hell. 
He raged and yelled and screamed.  Then, he cried and sobbed.  He was convinced that now he was going to get sent back to rehab for something that he didn’t even do.
Neither parent had said anything at all about rehab.  We were still trying to figure out what the results of the drug test meant.  We kept trying to tell him that he wasn’t going back to rehab, we just wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on.
But, he wouldn’t listen. 
He said that the drug test was wrong and that he hadn’t used anything.  He wanted us to believe him and not the drug test.  He wouldn’t stop yelling and screaming F-bombs at us.  We couldn’t even get a word in edgewise.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.  It was like being in a movie that I wouldn’t even want to watch. 
I even tried just plain telling him to shut-up so that we could talk and then he came at ME very threateningly and told me to NEVER tell him to shut up again.  Wow.  Things were spiraling out of control and we couldn’t seem to stop them.
My husband stepped between us and told my son that he is not allowed to talk to me like that.  So, then he threatened my husband, which made me feel that I needed to get between THEM.  We were going around and around in a crazy circle.
One of us needed to go to the pharmacy to buy another drug test so we could get a second opinion.  I thought my husband should go, but he was nervous about leaving me alone with our son.  I didn’t really think my son would do anything to me, but I was pretty sure that something bad would happen between them if I went to the store and left the two of them alone together.
While my husband was gone, he called my son’s sponsor and told him that we were having a really bad day.  His sponsor was out of town, but he immediately sent some friends to come to our house to help us out.  They were going to bring us some 6-panel test kits that are used at sober living centers.  He felt so bad that all of this was going on and he wasn’t here to help our son through it.    
But he did call my son.  He tried to get him to calm down.  I think he probably told him that everything was going to be okay.  I know he also said that the drug test kits that he was sending to us would show the true results and that my son would have to accept them.  My son was adament that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and he seemed happy to comply with what his sponsor wanted him to do.  He was still so upset that he was crying the entire time he talked to his sponsor and kept saying that he didn’t want to go back to rehab.  He cried so much that he got physically sick and sounded like he was having an asthma attack, too. 
After he hung up, I tried to get him to use his inhaler so that he could breathe better.  He just swore at me and told me that he didn’t care whether he could breathe or not.  So much for seeming like he might have settled down.
While we were waiting for his sponsor’s friends to come, we used the drug test kit from the pharmacy.  It still showed positive results for Opiates (my husband bought the most expensive kit there was and then it didn’t even test for Benzodiazepems). 
I looked online to find out what drugs were in the categories of Opiates and Benzo’s.  Opiates could be pain killers like Lortab, but even harder drugs like Heroin.  Benzo’s are the class of drugs that Valium and Xanax are in.  Both would explain why he slept so much on Sunday, and how he was so tired, out of it, and lethargic on Monday and Tuesday.
The results of this 2nd test did nothing for his attitude.  He started yelling and raging again.  Was he angry that he got caught?  Did he think he could hide his relapse behind amphetamines/adderall on a drug test and then it didn’t work out for him because the drugs he took weren’t amphetamines?
I was so glad when his sponsor’s friends came.  They were very nice and helpful.  Both were recovering addicts.  One was a guy who was now working in a drug rehab center.  He talked to my son outside for awhile and seemed to help calm him down.  Then performed the drug test himself.  It showed the same positive results as the first test.  He told my son that he needed to accept that he had made a mistake and move on from there.  He said that this did not need to be a setback.  He told us to go ahead and send the Walgreen’s test to the lab and my son seemed to agree that he wouldn’t be able to argue with the results of that, but was still adamant that he hadn’t used anything. 
They both told my son that trust has to be earned back and that we have every right not to trust him.  He was nice to them and agreed with everything they said.  He is really good about saying the right thing and acting okay toward other people.
We hoped that everything they told him would help his attitude, but as soon as they left he reverted to the upset, angry, raging madman that he was before they came.  He would not stop insisting that he hadn’t used anything. 
Things did not get any better that night.  In fact they got even worse.
Throughout all of the arguing and yelling and peeing in a cup, he kept going out into the garage and trying to work.  It was like he had an obsession with getting in as many hours of work as possible, even though we were trying figure out what he had relapsed on and WHY! 
Then, something very coincidental happened. 
He “found” a container of old prescription bottles in the garage. 
As soon as I saw the container, my heart just dropped into my stomach. I could not believe it was in the garage and I immediately remembered why it was and what was in it.  Some of the bottles still had pills in them, and some didn’t.  There also should have been some Lortab and a bottle with about 2 Valium in it, too, but they weren’t there.  I was pretty sure that if had prior knowledge of that container of medication in the garage, then the Lortab and Valium were part of the equation, even though the bottles weren't there. 

So what was up with vehemently denying out loud that he had used anything, but then magically finding a container full of evidence that there were drugs that he could have used in the garage?  What did that mean?
Was he trying to admit to relapsing without verbally admitting relapsing?
I could not believe that container was there.  I was SO MAD AT MYSELF! 

I felt so stupid. I had a recovering addict in my home.  And I had totally forgotten about a container of prescription painkillers and medication hiding in my garage.  How long had he known they were there?  When had he discovered them?  A year ago, a few days ago, or that day?  I had no idea.  But, it sure seemed like he knew they were there during the last few days.  I had exposed my recovering addict son to danger and didn’t even know it.
About 1 ½ years before that time, a family member of my husband was having some emotional and life problems.  She had supposedly tried to take her own life and ended up in the E.R.  But, the hospital didn’t want to admit her because she doesn’t have insurance.  So, even though we wanted her admitted to the psych unit, she had to be released to someone’s care.  She had already worn out her welcome with other family members, so we had to let her stay with us.  We did everything we could to suicide-proof our house, quickly.  I gathered up all of the prescription medicines and put them in a container to make sure they were inaccessible to her.  I remembered giving them to my husband to put in his safe.  I was not sure how they ended up in the garage instead of the safe.  Maybe we both decided to just stash them in the garage since we were in a hurry and meant to put them in the safe later. 
But, we both forgot about them--For one and a half years.
My advice now?  Never, never, never, ever keep prescription pain killers and medications just in case you might need them someday.  Once you have recovered from whatever they were prescribed to you for—dispose of them!  Keeping them is such a stupid, stupid thing to do. 
It was highly likely that whatever he had taken that day or in the past few days, came out of that container in the garage.  I was pretty sure that there were other bottles in it that weren’t in there when he showed it to me.  So where were the other bottles, or what else did he have access to out there? 
I felt like I had put candy in front of a kid who is not allowed to have any. 
But, it also made me really mad that he had taken something, whether it was right in front of his face or not. 
We told him that as of right then, he wasn’t going to be able to work in the garage anymore and he started ranting about how he wouldn’t be able to earn enough money to get his laptop if he didn’t work in the garage. 
Then, he decided that since he had earned all of the money he was ever going to be able to earn in his entire life, he was going to go buy his laptop RIGHT THEN and wanted me to drive him to Best Buy.
Seriously.  He just had 3 positive drug tests and freaked out on us for hours and then I was supposed to drive him to the store and reward him for his behavior?
I made the mistake of laughing at that idea.  How could he possibly think that after relapsing and raging at me all night that I would take him to buy a laptop?
So, he punched a hole in our pantry door while screaming and yelling at me for not being willing to take him to Best Buy.  I had the thrill and pleasure of being called a b!#@& AND a d!*k. 
It hurts my feelings SO MUCH when swears and me and calls me names.  At first I laughed because he called me
a d!*k, which is usually a name reserved for people of the male gender, but then I just started crying and sobbing.  My emotions had taken all that they could take for one night and I turned into a basket-case. 
The only thing I wanted to do was get far away from my son.  I said that I could not stand one more minute in the house with this child of mine treating me the way he was treating me and acting like nothing was his fault or responsibility.  I could not stop thinking about the awful things that he had said to me throughout the night.  As my husband was holding me, listening to me cry, something switched in my son.
He came and sat by us on the couch and became remorseful.  He tried to snuggle up to me and tell me he was sorry for how he acted.
Was he afraid that I would really leave, since I am his greatest advocate and the only one who sticks up for him or is willing to do things for him (in his opinion)? 
Did he realize that he had actually gone too far this time with his raging?
Or did he have another agenda for acting sorry? (Like still being taken to Best Buy)?
I didn’t know. 
I stayed. 
There was no resolution that night.  But, there was also no more yelling and raging.

I could only hope that he realized that he screwed up big time and that the thought of going back to rehab scared him enough that we will never have to go through another relapse experience again.

He really relapsed.
I know he did.
I just don't know why. 

P.S. (We sent the test strip in from the kit that we bought at the pharmacy to the lab.  The pharmacy kit did not test for benzodiazepems, which we did not realize at the time, but when we got the results back a few weeks later, it did show positive for opiates, specifically -- codeine.  And about two or three months later, my husband was looking for something in the garage for work that he hadn’t used in over a year.  When he found the box, it had some prescription bottles in it—Tylenol 3, Lortab, something that we couldn’t even read the label on, and Naproxen.  They were all empty, but one—it had one Tylenol 3 in it.  One of the bottles did not even belong to anyone in our family—the one that I couldn’t read what was actually in it.  The Tylenol 3 could have given the positive for codeine on the drug test.  Just more evidence that he had a stash in our garage.  We now have a key lock on the door that leads into the garage from the house.  He is pretty mad about that lock and can’t believe that we don’t trust him to be able to go into the garage if he needs to.  I am pretty sure that it is going to take years to feel like we can totally trust him, especially if we have any more of these relapse episodes).